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Non-native English speaker - what are my options in Asia?

 
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theBunk



Joined: 10 Oct 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:19 pm    Post subject: Non-native English speaker - what are my options in Asia? Reply with quote

Hey everybody!

First time poster here Smile As a non-native English speaker looking to teach English in Asia for a year or two (or more) I was wondering if you guys could give me some input on what my chances are to find employment, preferably legal, and which countries I should focus my efforts on.

Credentials:
BA in China Studies - University of Oslo
Incomplete MA in China Studies - Zhejiang University. Good grades but yeah.., incomplete
CELTA four week course (planned)
Five months experience doing language teaching
IELTS band score 8.0, with 8.5 in speaking and listening


China:
Seems like the natural and most realistic option. My BA is in China studies, I speak Chinese fairly well, I've taught elementary Chinese to Norwegian high school students for five months, and I've lived in China for about four years altogether so I know what to expect in terms of daily life there. The problem is finding a way to work there legally. I've heard that employers might be able to set you up with some kind of foreign expert or humanities visa and that you'd be able to work more or less legally on that. But I also hear that the government is cracking down on schools employing non-natives all over the country so I don't know... Also, Internet censorship looks about to become more draconian than ever, even blocking VPN's now. That's a big drawback for sure.

Vietnam:
Very interested in this place as well. Few opportunities for stable, serious teaching jobs though. Or..? I'd try to pick up the language and get to know local people as fast as possible if I went there. Thankfully the language seems to have a lot in common with Chinese, at least structurally.

South-Korea:
I like it a lot. Been visiting friends there a few times. Good food, good environment. Too bad non-natives are barred from teaching English there.

Taiwan:
Seems nice. But again, no NNES teachers allowed.

Hong Kong:
I lived there for half a year as an exchange student and I love it! Maybe my Chinese proficiency could be of some help finding work there?

Singapore:
If possible then sure...

Japan:
The dream! I'd be willing to put up with quite a bit just for the opportunity to live and work there for a while, even if it's out in the middle of nowhere.

The job market for entry-level ESL teachers seems very tight. My understanding is JET positions are extremely hard to get, and the eikaiwa market sounds like a real horror show. But maybe that's mostly the popular destinations like Tokyo, Osaka etc, and the situation in more remote areas is better? I'd love to get some input on this.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10829
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

theBunk wrote:
China:
Seems like the natural and most realistic option. My BA is in China studies, I speak Chinese fairly well, I've taught elementary Chinese to Norwegian high school students for five months, and I've lived in China for about four years altogether so I know what to expect in terms of daily life there. The problem is finding a way to work there legally.
....
Vietnam:
Very interested in this place as well. Few opportunities for stable, serious teaching jobs though. Or..? I'd try to pick up the language and get to know local people as fast as possible if I went there. Thankfully the language seems to have a lot in common with Chinese, at least structurally.
....
Hong Kong:
I lived there for half a year as an exchange student and I love it! Maybe my Chinese proficiency could be of some help finding work there?

Other posters will add their input about your target countries. In the meantime, you might check out the thread, (Non native) Newbie wants to teach abroad ! Advice needed.

Although your BA in Chinese Studies is culturally relevant to China, be aware that your degree and experience teaching Chinese to Norwegians won't be of interest to employers seeking someone who teaches English language skills. Your CV will need to focus on your understanding of TEFL and ability to teach EL. Otherwise, recruiters/employers will only see you as a non-native English speaker who teaches Chinese.

Also, it's great that you want to pick up the languages spoken in your target countries. However, that's not necessary for TEFL, and you're not likely to see ads stating a language requirement other than English. It's more important to have a basic knowledge of the local language relevant to the linguistic issues English language learners struggle with.
.
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suphanburi



Joined: 20 Mar 2014
Posts: 797

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your options are largely limited by your passport.

China is an option as are Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam.
Hong Kong is doubtful since you are a NNES (even with Chinese skills).
If your IELTS is current that takes care of one of the hurdles (language proficiency test).

The next issue is not being IN the country (China being the exception).
For China you will need to use a recruiter and get your visa from home.
For the rest of SE Asia you need to be here to be considered for employment.

Although you have part of your MA done as you have noted it is NOT done. All you have is a BA and potentially a CELTA. That puts you on the lower end of the scale for jobs and pay.

If you are willing to fund your own ticket here then you need to be here in the spring for the best options to find a position in SE Asia. The worst time to be job hunting is Dec - Feb (schools are shutting down or closed for their annual break). China is the exception with their school year on a similar academic calendar to the west.

Can you get work = yes.
Will it be well paid = no. You will be competing with the Filipinos and they will do the same job you do for 1/2 the money (still double what they make in their own country).

.
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theBunk



Joined: 10 Oct 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback guys Smile

suphanburi:
Well that doesn't sound so great.

I thought about getting a CELTA at either Apollo or ILA in HCMC so that'd place me in Vietnam for a couple of months at least.

Are there ways to boost my possibilities though, like other courses I can take beyond CELTA or getting more English teaching experience? Or am I forever doomed to low-rung jobs by my nationality/non-MA status?
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 727

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to Dave's!

A couple of questions: Are you in Norway now? And what is your timeline? You might do well to consider getting your Celta and then spending a year teaching English in your home country before heading for Asia. The experience will get your CV a second look. You'll still be a NNES, but you won't be a NNES without experience.

In your first post you mention wanting to teach in Asia for a year or two, maybe longer, but in your last you asked suphanburi if you are "forever doomed to low-rung jobs," which implies a career interest--and might conceivably change training/education recommendations.

Again, welcome!

.
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suphanburi



Joined: 20 Mar 2014
Posts: 797

PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

theBunk wrote:
Are there ways to boost my possibilities though, like other courses I can take beyond CELTA or getting more English teaching experience? Or am I forever doomed to low-rung jobs by my nationality/non-MA status?


The best way to get off the bottom rung is gain experience and that takes time (1 year of experience = 1 year of experience).

Teacher training (CELTA / TEFL with an observed practicum) and ongoing, continuous Professional Development will also add to your worth if you want more than entry level jobs. GOOD teachers with measurable results are ALWAYS in demand.

Networking on the job. In most of Asia it is not as much what you know as who you know (or more correctly, who knows you).

You are not doomed to entry level and low pay but you won't start off 1/2 way up the ladder either. You'll have to put in the time and develop yourself to get anything better.

.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 995
Location: US

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
be aware that your degree and experience teaching Chinese to Norwegians won't be of interest to employers seeking someone who teaches English language skills. Your CV will need to focus on your understanding of TEFL and ability to teach EL. Otherwise, recruiters/employers will only see you as a non-native English speaker who teaches Chinese.

I wouldn't say that the OP's experience teaching Chinese to Norwegians would be of zero interest to EFL employers. Of course, it would be of less interest than EFL teaching experience; however, in many ways, language teaching is language teaching, no matter the language. So, OP, don't leave that Chinese language teaching experience off of your CV, but rather talk about it in ways that aren't language-specific, such as your preferred language teaching methods and your responsibilities in that position that would relate to other teaching positions (e.g., making lesson plans, creating materials, designing assessments, etc.)
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10829
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rtm wrote:
I wouldn't say that the OP's experience teaching Chinese to Norwegians would be of zero interest to EFL employers. Of course, it would be of less interest than EFL teaching experience; however, in many ways, language teaching is language teaching, no matter the language. So, OP, don't leave that Chinese language teaching experience off of your CV, but rather talk about it in ways that aren't language-specific, such as your preferred language teaching methods and your responsibilities in that position that would relate to other teaching positions (e.g., making lesson plans, creating materials, designing assessments, etc.)

That was my point as well and will add that the OP also needs to downplay his/her obvious interest in Chinese to avoid potential bias if he/she applies for work in other Asian countries.

theBunk:

Definitely indicate your BA degree and Chinese teaching experience but omit the partial MA in China Studies. As a non-native English speaker, your CV should emphasize your basic competencies to teach EFL (in whatever country you end up in), while your cover letter reflects enthusiasm for TEFL. You will be able to better articulate your knowledge, skills and abilities upon completion of your CELTA course.
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theBunk



Joined: 10 Oct 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everybody for the suggestions, all very helpful Smile

AGoodStory wrote:
Welcome to Dave's!

A couple of questions: Are you in Norway now? And what is your timeline? You might do well to consider getting your Celta and then spending a year teaching English in your home country before heading for Asia. The experience will get your CV a second look. You'll still be a NNES, but you won't be a NNES without experience.

In your first post you mention wanting to teach in Asia for a year or two, maybe longer, but in your last you asked suphanburi if you are "forever doomed to low-rung jobs," which implies a career interest--and might conceivably change training/education recommendations.
.

Thanks!

Yep, I'm in Norway now. I thought I'd try and get on one of the CELTA courses starting in Jan/Feb at either ILA or Apollo in HCMC.

So here's the thing. Long term I was thinking I'd teach various subjects here in Norway. Full-time Chinese language teaching jobs are pretty sparse obviously, so if I can supplement that with some English teaching experience and my political science subjects from university I'll stand a better chance at getting a full-time position here.

With that said, I'm open for staying in China or Vietnam for a good while if I like it and can get myself a decent job down the road. I'm in no rush to embrace the hum-drum of everyday life here in Norway Razz

suphanburi wrote:

You are not doomed to entry level and low pay but you won't start off 1/2 way up the ladder either. You'll have to put in the time and develop yourself to get anything better.
.

Ah yeah, that I can do. I just got worried that employers wouldn't look past my nationality, regardless of what qualifications and experience I might have.


rtm and nomad soul:

Thanks for the tips! I'll definitely keep them in mind Smile
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suphanburi



Joined: 20 Mar 2014
Posts: 797

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theBunk wrote:
suphanburi wrote:

You are not doomed to entry level and low pay but you won't start off 1/2 way up the ladder either. You'll have to put in the time and develop yourself to get anything better.
.

Ah yeah, that I can do. I just got worried that employers wouldn't look past my nationality, regardless of what qualifications and experience I might have.


Employers don't care about your passport. Immigration on the other hand might. When you see ads that specifically state NES required it is usually an immigration issue. In some cases, legal work as an English teacher won't be allowed (no visa) and in other cases you simply need proof of proficiency (TOEIC or IELTS test).

Fly in and look around. Timing will be more of an issue (Dec - Feb are the worst times to be looking in SE Asia.

.
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