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Flexible but Untrained Couple, General Advice Welcome
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Corvus Marinus



Joined: 05 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Mississippi

PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:17 pm    Post subject: Flexible but Untrained Couple, General Advice Welcome Reply with quote

I hope it's okay just to open a new thread like this.... Direct me elsewhere as you see fit.

Here's the situation. My fiancee and I are interested in teaching English overseas in the near (or very near) future, and are at a loss about where to start. I've spent some time browsing the internet, and sent in an application to English First and an inquiry to a language school in Irkutsk (no response yet to either), but I'm still struggling to process what my first steps should be. My fiancee is preparing for the wedding and letting me try to work this out for both of us.

These are the interested parties, to be married November 30, interested most ideally in jobs starting January/the spring (though if we have to wait we'll still be interested):

Me
Age: 22
Education: B.A. in History with a minor in Creative Writing, M.A. in History
Teaching experience: None
Language experience: College year each of Latin, Koine Greek, and German
Employment history: 4 years National Guard Bureau (civilian office work)

My fiancee
Age: 25
Education: B.A. in English and Creative Writing
Teaching experience: Less than a year of 3rd grade, some tutoring
Language experience: College year each of French and Spanish, 2 years of Koine Greek
Employment history: Restaurants, nannying, private school teaching (see above)

Both of us are fairly well-read, articulate, detail-oriented people with a solid grasp of English literature, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. (which I realize is no qualification in itself). We're in Jackson, Mississippi, right now. I plan to start a doctoral program in history in a few years, but we've realized that now is the time to travel, before jobs, further education, and children make it difficult, and we'd rather take our time and not completely drain our savings--and getting some teaching experience would be nice. Since we are only thinking 1-2 years of this, neither of us is particularly eager to spend money on TEFL training unless we are subsequently able to earn back what we spent.

As far as location or pay--we're mostly in this for the general international quality of the experience, so as long as we can break even or almost break even, we're not picky about salary. We're also not really particular on where in the world we end up. For a while I was interested in Teach and Learn in Georgia, and still am. I like the idea of Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Central Asia, out of historical/geographical interest, but above that, we'd like a good "starter" location, preferably not overwhelmingly urban, and if we ended up in South America or South Korea or somewhere random, we'd ultimately be okay with that.

Go ahead, be brutal, and tell me if this is not possible. But if it is, I'd greatly appreciate some practical steps and advice from more experienced travelers for sorting out what to do next. Thank you!
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9135
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For Central Europe (where US citizens can legally get work permits, though it's a hassle) you would need a CELTA or equivalent cert, simply because almost every teacher on the job market has one. Less would just put you at too much of a disadvantage. If you decide to try this job market, be aware:

jobs are not found from abroad (except in rare cases of teachers with special quals or very rural schools); you need to pay to get over here and get set up, and interview in person.

hiring season is end August through September; contracts Sept/Oct through June, little work in July/August.

You are correct that knowledge of the language does not equate to understanding how to teach the language. Your English/Creative Writing studies won't put you ahead of all the other candidates in this area.

I do not believe you are qualified for any but the absolute dodgiest jobs in the Middle East; suggest that you post on the regional board below for detailed info.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3005
Location: Mesopotamia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I do not believe you are qualified for any but the absolute dodgiest jobs in the Middle East; suggest that you post on the regional board below for detailed info.

The combination of a lack of experience, zero TEFL training, and your young age isn't likely to get you a poke from even the dodgiest Saudi contracting companies. Generally, the better employers in the region expect to see a related MA + a few years of experience at the university level.
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MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 206
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The ME is NOT the best place for a first teaching experience and the other posters are right, you will only be offered jobs by dodgy agents with your present qualifications. Best advice is to get yourselves a CELTA each, then look around.
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 133

PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I also think you both should get a CELTA.

Also, why not look for volunteering opportunities in Jackson to teach in order to at least get a little experience? It will give you an idea whether you'd like teaching or not, after all you could do it and realise you don't like it.
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Corvus Marinus



Joined: 05 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Mississippi

PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I figured the Middle East would probably be impossible, based on what I'd read online. But I thought I'd throw it out there on the list of regions that most interest me. We are more interested in the general experience than ending up somewhere specific, which is why I posted here rather than trying one of the regional forums. I was wondering if there might be good beginner opportunities in Russia or China or somewhere else that might accept educated-but-not-trained native English speakers. Poking around online seemed to suggest that demand is great in some areas, such that it is quite possible to go about short-term without TEFL certification and on minimal wages, but most of the information was vague, and I really need concrete steps at this point.

As noted, I do have a Master's in history, and my chief long-term career goal is to become an university professor in my field, so my interests are definitely oriented to teaching and education. Jackson, where my fiancee and her family are located, has unfortunately proved not the easiest place to find adequate work (teaching or otherwise), and I have not found local opportunities for getting TESL or TEFL certified short of doing it online. Getting certified with CELTA or something similar would be okay if we could manage to earn back the costs (or most of them) within a couple years or so. Would this be a reasonable expectation, even admitting the variable nature of the market?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3005
Location: Mesopotamia

PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Corvus Marinus wrote:
Getting certified with CELTA or something similar would be okay if we could manage to earn back the costs (or most of them) within a couple years or so. Would this be a reasonable expectation, even admitting the variable nature of the market?

I'm not sure what you mean by the "variable nature of the market," but having a CELTA (or equivalent) will open more job opportunities in more countries. By contrast, you'll be limited as to where you can work if you have an online/substandard TEFL cert. Something to consider if you're concerned about earning back your investment.


Last edited by nomad soul on Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1819

PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Briefly: Yes, this board was exactly the right place to come. Being able to use grammar effectively is not the same as understanding its structure and being able to teach it. With neither qualifications nor relevant experience, few employers will be interested and even if they are, when you and your students struggle, none of you are likely to enjoy it. Get the quals: CELTA or Trinity TESOL are the ones with the widest international recognition (generally trusted because they are regulated).
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 843
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Corvus Marinus,

Correct, there is demand everywhere. A job is a job, and some (many) TEFL employers have terrible hours, poor support, and overall unpleasant conditions. I'm sure you would hate to end up somewhere miserable, right? Sometimes people have a romantic notion of teaching English abroad and lump "teaching English" into the same boat. I suppose you could consider food service in the same manner - do you want to work at a high-end resort? Or a crappy McDonalds?

Pick where you would like to go (assuming you can legally work there), take the CELTA together at that location, study hard, and then enjoy! What kind of history interests you? Perhaps a location that ties in with that will help you in the long-run as well, making any costs associated with CELTA well-worth it.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1819

PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although it might be a cheaper option to do CELTA/Trinity at home, if you live near a training centre. Usual rent/mortgage/whatever. If you do it abroad, you may end up paying double for accommodation. And plenty of people study at home and then get jobs; it's a bit of a myth that you have to be there (although the latter is advantageous, obviously). Personally, I think you get a little better skilled teaching a multilingual class, as you would do in your home country; you get better at mime eliciting etc.
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MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 206
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't go down the 'online' route to get qualified, many places don't recognise online qualifications as they don't have the necessary observed teaching preactice component.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1819

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MuscatGary wrote:
Don't go down the 'online' route to get qualified, many places don't recognise online qualifications as they don't have the necessary observed teaching preactice component.

100% agreement.
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damn_my_eyes



Joined: 13 Jul 2013
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To recoup the cost of doing a CELTA in one or two years would be quite an effort in a lot of the countries where it's easy to find entry level work.
Presuming you both want to have a reasonable social life, do some traveling etc..

If I was your age and money was an issue plus I knew I was only going to teach for one to two years I'm not sure I'd fork out for an expensive course such as a CELTA.

There's lots of things to consider though and remember....

Wherever you go you'll have a class full of students looking at you expecting you to deliver.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 401
Location: US

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Corvus Marinus wrote:

As noted, I do have a Master's in history, and my chief long-term career goal is to become an university professor in my field, so my interests are definitely oriented to teaching and education. Jackson, where my fiancee and her family are located, has unfortunately proved not the easiest place to find adequate work (teaching or otherwise), and I have not found local opportunities for getting TESL or TEFL certified short of doing it online. Getting certified with CELTA or something similar would be okay if we could manage to earn back the costs (or most of them) within a couple years or so. Would this be a reasonable expectation, even admitting the variable nature of the market?


There might not be many local options for getting TESL work or TESL certification, but there there are related things you could do. You could volunteer as an assistant teacher at your local literacy council, public library, refugee center, or other place that offers adult ESL classes (e.g., it appears that the Jackson Public Schools organize adult ESL courses). It would be good experience if you want to work as a paid ESL/EFL teacher in the future. You could ask at a local university whether you could sit in on some TESOL courses (e.g., it looks like Mississippi College has undergrad and graduate certificates in TESOL/ELL). You could ask at the ESL centers at the local universities if you could sit in on or observe any classes (it looks like many of the colleges/universities in Jackson have ESL programs). These wouldn't give you certification, but they would give you some experience or knowledge, which is better than you have currently.

Also, you have indicated that you don't have much preference about where in the world you go, but do you have a preference as to who your students are (i.e., age range)? That would also affect where in the world you would want to target your applications, as opportunities differ in different places.

Lastly, as someone else mentioned, you might want to try to dovetail your historical interests and your location for EFL teaching. History is one of the most over-supplied fields currently, so in order to be a history professor, you're probably going to have to get into one of the top history PhD programs, and I'd guess that many of those top programs wouldn't like a 2-year gap in your CV, especially after your masters (i.e., getting a masters in a subject and promptly leaving that field could be seen as lack of dedication). If you can spin your EFL experience well (e.g., developing proficiency in a language needed for your research, or making use of archives in the country of your focus), then it can be an asset.
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Xie Lin



Joined: 21 Oct 2011
Posts: 288

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, Cormorant,

Although you have asked about teaching English, do you particularly want to teach English, or do you simply see it as your path to an international experience? If the latter, you might consider teaching history rather than EFL. If you have an interest in Mexico (or a number of other Latin American countries) you might want to consider private biilingual schools which hire content teachers. Browse the Mexico board, and look for information regarding teaching at a colegio. A small number of top tier schools require applicants to be licensed teachers; but an MA in your subject will adequately qualify you for most of the rest. Your wife will be competitive for teaching English at the same schools, since her degree is in the subject. (Ditto other posters recommendations that she get some TEFL training as well, however.) If interested in this approach, research Mexico's system of prepa/university dual campus schools (the prepa feeds students into the uni)--one of these schools could be a possibiility for the two of you. As an added advantage, pay will be much better than you'd get at a language school. The probable downside will be dealing with student behavioral issues.

Something else to consider anyway. Good luck to you!

.
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