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A non-native speaker with many questions...

 
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Arne85



Joined: 08 Mar 2013
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:50 pm    Post subject: A non-native speaker with many questions... Reply with quote

Hi all,

Having been unhappy in my current job for quite some time, I have decided to give my life a new direction and to take up something I've always thought I might enjoy and be good at but have never really attempted - teaching. At this point, the ESL world seems both incredibly exciting and very confusing, so please bear with me as I go through my questions.

Let me start with some background information on myself: I am a 28 year old German native speaker currently living and working in London, where I have been for the past 2 1/2 years. I have a BA in British and American Studies from the University of Konstanz, Germany, and an MA in Comparative Literary Studies with a focus on American Literature from Goldsmiths College in London. In addition, I have lived in both the US and Canada as an exchange student. Thus, I believe my proficiency of English to be very high, though CELTA admission boards may beg to differ.

Which leads me to my first question. After careful consideration and thorough research on this forum (among others), I have decided I should bite the bullet and get CELTA certified rather than relying on a 120 hour online TEFL course to do the trick. These online courses seem to not be very popular or seen as very useful, and I would rather get a proper qualification and do this right. Thankfully, I have the possibility of doing the course in Hamburg, Germany, where I could live rent-free. I was thinking about taking the course in August, as this would give me time to prepare for it over the spring and summer months as well as to save up some extra money. But here's my question: What will I, as a non-native speaker, have to prove in order to be accepted to the course? How 'tough' will this initial screening be, and how can I best prepare for it?

Provided that I do get accepted and (fingers crossed!) that I do pass the course (which I realize will be very tough), how do you guys see my chances of finding a good job in Asia afterwards? I mean this both in terms of timing (as I know that, for markets like Japan for instance, hiring season is in February and March) and in terms of certain countries' willingness to hire non-native speakers. I've read, for instance, that you need to have been taught in a school that had English as the main language of instruction for 12 years in order to work in Japan, which would automatically disqualify me. I am fairly open about where to go, though I am not massively keen on China or Korea. Japan would be my dream but, for reasons stated earlier, this seems unachievable.

Finally, what are the odds of finding a job from Germany? The CELTA (and the new laptop I would need to buy) are going to take up nearly all of my savings and I won't really be able to sustain myself for a few weeks in Asia while looking for a job. I realize this will differ from market to market and that for some (like Korea) it might be easier than for others, but do you think this is something I can at least hope for or will I definitely need to save up even more money if I really want to find a good job out there?

I know this has been a very long post and I really appreciate anyone who took the time to read this - I look forward to your replies!
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2681
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When working for a smaller dispatch AET company (Wing) at public schools in the Chiba area of Japan, I had a colleague from Indonesia who did not have English half as fluent as yours, and whom I very much doubt had been schooled during his K12 years in an English-speaking country. So it may be possible for you to somehow swing at least some part-time work there. (I say part-time because the guy seemed to cover for any of the more regular [white or western] AETs who were sometimes ill or absent rather than being a main AET himself). I wish I'd had a chance to talk more to the guy and see what his main activity or source of income was. Thinking about it he may have been married to a Japanese LOL.

Then, private language schools may offer classes for languages other than English (i.e. you don't necessarily need to teach just English, although that is probably the most in-demand language still). You'll need to research this yourself, especially whether they'd offer visa sponsorship or not (assuming that such work would be mainly just part-time only). Perhaps try to find the German equivalent of a book like Susan Griffith's Teaching English Abroad (which explains the various visa regs for native English speakers) and/or Work Your Way Around the World, so that you can see what options are available if need be to more the German/~ teacher.

By the way, have you heard of the JET Programme? From what I understand, Germany is a participating country.
http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/aspiring/countries.html

In China I had a very fluent and capable Dutch colleague who was offered and taught Business English classes no problem (no complaints).

Regarding your chances of admission to the CELTA course, I think it will be at the discretion of the individual training center, but if the (now defunct?) COTE (Certificate for Overseas Teachers of English), which seems to have been superceded by the ICELT, was anything to go by, the entry requirement relevant here was to possess a level of English equivalent to the FCE (which is a level you obviously have). For the CELTA I think the requirements are simply that you be at least 18-20 and have an education which would permit entry to and performance at HE level (which you also have already).


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:49 am; edited 5 times in total
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:34 am    Post subject: Re: A non-native speaker with many questions... Reply with quote

Arne85 wrote:

Provided that I do get accepted and (fingers crossed!) that I do pass the course (which I realize will be very tough), how do you guys see my chances of finding a good job in Asia afterwards? I mean this both in terms of timing (as I know that, for markets like Japan for instance, hiring season is in February and March) and in terms of certain countries' willingness to hire non-native speakers. I've read, for instance, that you need to have been taught in a school that had English as the main language of instruction for 12 years in order to work in Japan, which would automatically disqualify me. I am fairly open about where to go, though I am not massively keen on China or Korea. Japan would be my dream but, for reasons stated earlier, this seems unachievable.

Finally, what are the odds of finding a job from Germany? The CELTA (and the new laptop I would need to buy) are going to take up nearly all of my savings and I won't really be able to sustain myself for a few weeks in Asia while looking for a job. I realize this will differ from market to market and that for some (like Korea) it might be easier than for others, but do you think this is something I can at least hope for or will I definitely need to save up even more money if I really want to find a good job out there?


I see 2 questions:

1) what are my chances of finding a job in Asia?
This has 2 parts:
a) employer issues.
b) immigration/visa issues.

2) what are my chances of finding a job while sitting at my home in Germany?


1)
<a>Some employer's won't care. If you are proficient and capable they will hire you.
Some do care and won't hire you because of your passport, your accent or some other perceived reason. It is the nature of EFL as a privatized industry and there is nothing you can do about it.

<b> This one is country dependent.
SOME countries (like Korea) will NOT allow you to work as an English teacher because of your passport. There is no option. It is not possible for you to obtain employment as a teacher in places like that.

Some countries (like Thailand) will allow you to work PROVIDED you can provide proof of English proficiency (TOEIC, IELTS, TOEFL).

Some countries require you to hold a degree in English or Education in order to qualify for a visa and necessary permits. Your graduate level studies won't matter.

2) again, this one is country dependent. Places like China and Korea do the majority of their hiring from abroad and use of a recruiter is common and often required. In other places like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. then it is a boot-on-the-ground kind of affair. USUALLY, Nothing decent will be found from abroad. You need to fly in, do your job search and get work.

With cases like that it is best to do some research ahead of time since TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
15-90 days before the start of the academic term there is more than ample work to be found and your chances of employment will be about 100% within30 days.
30 days after the start of term your chances rapidly drop to very low numbers and the qualify of those jobs is questionable at best (there is usually a good reason they are looking to hire a replacement teacher 30 days after school starts and it isn't always the fault of the departing teacher.


When you are looking at jobs, look at the whole remuneration package AND then consider based on comparison of the NET SAVINGS at the end of the year and NOT based on the base salary. The extras (things like housing, airfare, 10 weeks of paid annual vacation instead of 10 days, medical insurance, extra allowances for extra curricular activities, COST OF LIVING in a given country, etc.) in the remuneration package can make a huge difference.

Good luck to you.

.
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Arne85



Joined: 08 Mar 2013
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:12 am    Post subject: Re: A non-native speaker with many questions... Reply with quote

tttompatz wrote:

This one is country dependent.
SOME countries (like Korea) will NOT allow you to work as an English teacher because of your passport. There is no option. It is not possible for you to obtain employment as a teacher in places like that.

Some countries (like Thailand) will allow you to work PROVIDED you can provide proof of English proficiency (TOEIC, IELTS, TOEFL).

Some countries require you to hold a degree in English or Education in order to qualify for a visa and necessary permits. Your graduate level studies won't matter.


Thanks for your reply! So, other than Korea, which countries will not hire any non-native speakers on principle? And would my BA in British and American Studies qualify as an "English degree" for those countries who have this as a prerequisite? This is obviously something I need to consider before I decide to sign up for the CELTA and quit my job Wink . Any guidance is much appreciated!
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3854
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:00 am    Post subject: Re: A non-native speaker with many questions... Reply with quote

Arne85 wrote:
And would my BA in British and American Studies qualify as an "English degree" for those countries who have this as a prerequisite?

No. Your degree would have to be relevant to English language, linguistics, or teaching/education. A degree in English literature doesn't always make the cut either.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Japan will not hire you "on principle". Although you have degrees (and many countries don't care what they are in, including Japan), you are considered a non-native speaker. You have 2 options in that regard:

1. If you fit the range of ages required, you could try for a working holiday in Japan. Good for a max of 1 year. You could work anywhere, FT or PT, as long as the employer thought you were qualified.

2. Get a work visa for Japan, but you'd have to prove that 12 years of your education has been all in English. I think getting hired (which is what's needed first) will not be as hard as getting the visa in this case.

If you don't have more than a few weeks' cash, don't come to Japan. If you can get hired from abroad, that will be so much better. The problems is, for Japan, not that many employers recruit from abroad. You'll have to hustle to find the ones who do a Skype interview (or JET program).

fluffyhamster wrote:
When working for a smaller dispatch AET company (Wing) at public schools in the Chiba area of Japan, I had a colleague from Indonesia who did not have English half as fluent as yours, and whom I very much doubt had been schooled during his K12 years in an English-speaking country. So it may be possible for you to somehow swing at least some part-time work there.
What exactly was his status, fluffy? You can't start out on a work visa and work only part-time.

And, to teach a language other than English, Japan requires that you have 5 years of teaching experience for that language.
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Arne85



Joined: 08 Mar 2013
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone! Seems like Japan and Korea are out of the question for me at this point. In general, how much difficulty will I face as a non-native speaker in ESL world? Is there any chance that I can start out in an Asian country like, say, Thailand or Vietnam, and eventually end up teaching in Europe (provided I get more qualifications along the way)?
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arne85 wrote:
Thanks everyone! Seems like Japan and Korea are out of the question for me at this point. In general, how much difficulty will I face as a non-native speaker in ESL world? Is there any chance that I can start out in an Asian country like, say, Thailand or Vietnam, and eventually end up teaching in Europe (provided I get more qualifications along the way)?


tttompatz wrote:
Some countries (like Thailand) will allow you to work PROVIDED you can provide proof of English proficiency (TOEIC, IELTS, TOEFL).
600 TOEIC (reading and listening portion of the test) or equivalent (5.5 IELTS, etc) is the score to beat for Thailand and is required for all non-native speakers who seek "legal (have visa and work permit) employment).

Some countries require you to hold a degree in English or Education in order to qualify for a visa and necessary permits. Your graduate level studies won't matter.


"Degree in English" as in being an English Major NOT as in "taught in English".
Indonesia is a prime example.

.
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JN



Joined: 17 Jan 2008
Posts: 167

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You mentioned about getting a job in Germany. Good that you're getting a CELTA. I'd say part-time jobs are probably possible to find and, assuming you are German, i.e. have an EU Passport, you could maybe find any other kind of job besides teaching English to supplement until you can get enough work. I don't know how much you'd earn, but it's probably possible for you to get a job in Germany. I know at least 2 English teacher's personally who are free-lance and are surviving just fine. I'm not sure what their quals are, though.
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it'snotmyfault



Joined: 14 May 2012
Posts: 527

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been in China a little over two years now and I've met people here who are teaching English from:

Russia
Poland
Holland
Bulgaria
Czech Republic
Belgium
Philippines

The type of jobs has varied from dodgy kindergartens to training schools to universities.
Whether they were working here legally or were treated on a par with native speakers or not I couldn't say, but they were definitely working here.

So there's always China
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1831

PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

China certainly. I know several Russians with a good command of English who teach in China; so if Russians can do it, I don't see why Germans shouldn't. And if you get the CELTA, then you're likely to be stronger in terms of your skill set than some of the others who have learned English but haven't much of a clue methodologically.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The visa issue may arise in China too.

I know a Polish guy with BA / MA in Education / CELTA and his visa was secured by presenting a fake university degree from America. He has been turned down by other jobs because not every employer is prepared to bend the rules this way.

Of course China is possible .. but its unlikely to be as open to a non-native as a qualifying native speaker and one can expect to encounter hurdles in some places.
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