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Can teaching esl/efl last forever?

 
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PanamaTeacher



Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 278
Location: Panama

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2003 3:28 pm    Post subject: Can teaching esl/efl last forever? Reply with quote

HELP! I have a concern and I would like some opinions, negative or positive, it doesn't matter. I am a 45 year-old man and I have been teaching esl/efl in Panama for 7 years. I had some teaching experience in the US as well as 9 years of college (over-educated). I started doing it out of a need to make money temporarily, but I found it to be the best way to make a living.

What worries me now is that unlike other types of work, teaching esl/efl has not given me any sense of stability, at least in terms of having an income. In other words, I live from student to student and/or short-term job to short-term job. I sometimes go for several months with little money, but then things pick up again. Working in my field is not an option because my written spanish is only so-so, so I'm better off teaching.

The problem is that every month or so new people drop into the country, and they are willing to work for survival wages while they trek in the jungles for a few months. I am all for youth having its fling, so I don't resent them. Yet, this keeps salaries low at most schools, because school owners know that someone will take that job making $3.00-7.00 an hour at a language school or $300-700 a month if it is a private elem/high school. Usually these folks work illegally for 3 months on a tourist visa (but not at better schools). At most schools the semesters or levels last 8 weeks and owners don't care about a high turnover rate since money not education is the primary motivation. In fact, I sense the owners are predators living of the new arrivals.

I want to "settle down," mentally at least, but I am worried that because there seems to be a preference (at least here in Panama) for hiring younger teachers with less experience, I may find myself unemployable at 50 or 60, if I try to make a career out of teaching esl/efl. I have read many postings in this forum, and I know that most of you agree that experience is a plus. However, teaching seems to be sort of like acting and there are fewer roles for older "stars." (Mr. de Mille, I'm ready for my close-up now--Norma Desmond)

What I want to know is this: Can a person teach esl/efl forever, or is there a point where age is such a handicap that one becomes unemployable. Does anyone know of someone that has prospered as an esl/efl teacher after 55 or 60. Or is it stupid for me to yearn for stability, should I just enjoy it while it lasts? If anyone wants to be harsh, that's OK because I would be happy to know that my secret fears are nothing but humbug.

Thanks for any help. Smile
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1452

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2003 6:58 pm    Post subject: Can teaching EFL last forever? Reply with quote

You've raised a very interesting question. In my opinion, the short answer answer is "yes." TEFL is a growth industry (one of the few, it seems), with demand for teachers especially high in the Orient, and I imagine it'll remain so for years to come.
How the market in Latin America will develop is a different matter.
I'd say that whether there's a place for you depends largely on your teaching qualifications. Do you have any? If not, I don't think you're too old to get some. My attitude is that if you want to offset any age disadvantage, the best way is to be better-qualified than the young bloods. Given your experience I'm sure you'd sail through a TEFL/CELTA course. But why stop there? Why not continue and invest in something more advanced, making yourself more appealling to potential employers?
As for settling down, does that mean that you'd rather stay in Panama, or would you be willing to move further afield? Do you have a wife and family to consider? Your preferences and commitments could restrict your mobility and prospects.
Age and age-ism have been discussed on other fora. Have a look at some of the opinions expressed there.
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PanamaTeacher



Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 278
Location: Panama

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2003 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your response graham. I agree with you that I should be able to survive in the field if I want to, I just wanted a second, independent opinion. TEFL is a growth industry here in Panama, several new schools have opened in the last couple of years (Berlitz, ESL Language Centers, Wall Street Institute, English Learning Centers come to mind). The problem is that with the economy down and the proliferation of new schools my business of giving private classes to beginners has been destroyed.

As for teaching qualifications, I was a substitute teacher in the US for 5 years to pay my way through school, but I never took any education courses. I agree that it would be great if I were better-qualified than the younger competition, but no one in Panama has ever asked to see my credentials (not even a HS diploma) and they don't seem to care about TEFL or CELTA certificates. I do know that working at a university or top private school is out of the question for me.

I am basically committed to working independently for the rest of my life as much as possible. What I do now is concentrate on high-end classes--tutoring for the SAT, TOEFL, GMAT exams and helping kids with literature, science, history, economics homework after school.

As for settling down, yes I want to stay in Panama, it is like a foreign country and the US combined. I love being here. I am not married, which is funny because I came to Panama hoping to get married. But my income is so unstable that I don't think I can afford a wife.

I have looked at the other postings on age, but I did not see any that answered my specific question. What I want to know, I guess is do all teachers feel as financially insecure as I do? Is this something I will have to accept as a trade-off for the freedom of teaching out of the US? I am fine now, I just wonder if it will last. I guess you are saying that it depends on me. If that's the case then I'll be OK. Thanks again for your time. Smile
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1452

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2003 8:39 am    Post subject: Panama Reply with quote

I hope the downturn in your business is due more to the economic situation than to the presence of Wall Street, Berlitz etc. They already rip off too many students.
Maybe you need to market yourself more aggressively?
Financial security and TEFL salaries only seem to go together in Arabic countries.
Good luck!
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PanamaTeacher



Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 278
Location: Panama

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2003 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham I looked in the other boards and I see that the questions i raised have been completely covered. I feel stupid for asking my question, but I never did this before. Thanks for your help. It helped me focus better. Smile
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grahamb



Joined: 30 Apr 2003
Posts: 1452

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2003 4:14 pm    Post subject: age Reply with quote

You´re welcome; No need to feel stupid.
All the best.
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Dilton



Joined: 12 Aug 2011
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did it turn out, PanamaTeacher?
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 476

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilton wrote:
How did it turn out, PanamaTeacher?


PanamaTeacher's last post on eslcafe was in 2003. I'd be surprised if he still follows discussions here.
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Guy Courchesne



Joined: 10 Mar 2003
Posts: 9403
Location: Mexico City

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Can teaching esl/efl last forever?


Lasted a little over 8 years at least...
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Vecchia



Joined: 05 Jun 2009
Posts: 54
Location: Sao Luis, Brazil

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If anyone is interested, here is a recent article about an American guy who headed over to Panama City to find an ESL job. It`s nowhere near as hard as people say it is...

http://thepanamagringo.com/2011/07/19/a-day-in-the-life-of-an-esl-teacher-in-panama/

http://thepanamagringo.com/2011/07/12/calling-all-esl-teachers-finding-a-job-teaching-english-in-panama-is-not-as-difficult-as-it-seems/
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Mr. Kalgukshi
Mod Team
Mod Team


Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 6018
Location: Anxious? Stressed? Repeat the following 300 times daily: A wet robin never flies at night.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some postings have been deleted.

Please do not confuse this board with ones where members do not become ex-members because they choose to be insulting or otherwise offensive and inappropriate in their comments.

More than one ex-member has made this mistake here.

As in this case, Report Posts regarding such comments are most welcome and will actually be acted upon by the Mod Team.
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