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Career minded. CELTA, then 1st job. Where?

 
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dolly llama



Joined: 08 Apr 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:02 pm    Post subject: Career minded. CELTA, then 1st job. Where? Reply with quote

I need a career. I am honestly pretty desperate. Despite moving mountains to find even a *job* here in California, I keep striking out and think it's time to move on.

I've been thinking about TEFL for over a year because it seems like a unique opportunity to truly create your own career. Cheesy as it sounds, I also really dig the chance to help kids/adults learn such a crucial life skill and, in a small way, help to connect the world through language. I enjoy teaching, enjoy people, and enjoy new cultures.

What's stopping me is fear. I'm older than your average TEFL'er and a little bit more risk adverse. I am not looking for a gap year, but a way of life for the next 10 or so years.

I want to do a CELTA course first (Thailand? China? I don't know.) and then look for work. After a year or two to get on my feet, I would like to go for my M.A. I also have an option in my back pocket to come back to the US for a few months and get a teacher credential somewhere "quick and easy" like Texas.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. My question is, given my goals and timeline, where should I start this journey? I think I would prefer Thailand for the climate and friendliness of the people. China's pollution puts me off and I seem to imagine my life there as more isolated and lonely. I'm really worried about this aspect because I don't have a lot of support or friends. If China is the place to go to get some good experience and save a little Oh Shit money, I'll do it.

South Korea would be my Plan C.

Stuff that matters-
35 year old female
B.A. in History
White, American, looks young and generally considered attractive

Stuff that probably doesn't matter-
Private ESL tutoring experience (nothing formal, no classroom)
Have lived overseas before (Middle East and Europe)
Military veteran

CELTA in China or Thailand? Or are there places I'm totally ignoring?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4019
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So where to start... First off, your age isn't an issue; there are very young teachers who begin their teaching careers fresh out of university, while others, like myself, end up changing careers to TEFL a couple of decades or more after working in other fields.

If you're sure TEFL is your career path, then pursue a standardized, entry-level English language teaching qualification like a CELTA, SIT TESOL, or Trinity CertTESOL. You won't be limited as to where you can teach to gain those first years of experience and you'll be in a good position to compete for the better jobs worldwide. Moreover, taking any one of these cert courses in the country you're interested in allows you time to acclimate to the culture while receiving your teacher training and support. Plus, you'd receive supervised/observed teaching practice with real language learners.

Korea is a popular first destination for newbies due to the savings potential (see http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/). But definitely give the Thailand and China discussion forums a look for more info about teaching and living in these countries.
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D-M



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 80

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

China probably wouldnt be a good place to take a CELTA or similar course. My main objection would be the visa issue. A legal working visa is tied to an employer, and the majority of these visas need to be processed outside China. Its very hard, often impossible, to change a tourist visa in-country. There is a likelihood that you will have to leave China to gain legal paperwork. This could mean a short trip to Hong Kong, which is best case scenario ... or it could mean returning to the US to apply for a visa before returning to China again. And that could be expensive.

Unless you are in China and transferring jobs ... most jobs are applied for from your home / another country.

You also need to be aware that many China jobs arent great in terms of career. The skills learnt from something like a CELTA arent always the standard practice in English classrooms in China. What you learn could be wasted as CELTA is really entry level ... and mentoring and support in the right job is still needed after.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4019
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

D-M wrote:
You also need to be aware that many China jobs arent great in terms of career. The skills learnt from something like a CELTA arent always the standard practice in English classrooms in China. What you learn could be wasted as CELTA is really entry level ... and mentoring and support in the right job is still needed after.

D-M makes a very good point, especially if/when you expect to teach in other countries. For example, for positions in the lucrative Middle East (Gulf), an indication of teaching experience gained in China on one's CV will likely turn prospective employers off. Something to keep in mind regardless of where you hope to teach 5+ years from now.
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psychedelicacy



Joined: 05 Oct 2013
Posts: 62
Location: Qatar

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Cheesy as it sounds, I also really dig the chance to help kids/adults learn such a crucial life skill and, in a small way, help to connect the world through language.


Excellent. The key to success in this (and, I suppose, any) job is the belief that it's important. There are a lot of cowboys, losers and backbackers to be sure, but generally the belief that it's actually an important job to be taken seriously, that just "anyone" couldn't do it properly, is quite important.

I think I might've just sounded very pretentious, but oh well.

Quote:
What's stopping me is fear. I'm older than your average TEFL'er and a little bit more risk adverse.


Doesn't matter. If anything, 35 is ideal.

Quote:
I am not looking for a gap year, but a way of life for the next 10 or so years.


Good.


Quote:
I want to do a CELTA course first


Good. You should.



Quote:
South Korea would be my Plan C.


I started out in Korea (Seoul public schools, 4 years). I recommend it, although from what I hear the public school jig is pretty much up. Not sure though. If it's still going, I would look into it.

I don't recommend Thailand at all, especially to a woman. It's full of drunks and sex pests from the West and it's a gross scene. Granted it's a big country and the sleaze isn't everywhere, but it's something to ponder, certainly.

I've no advice on where to do CELTA, I'm afraid. I was lucky and did mine at my local college in 2004-5. If I were you and had a little money to spare, I'd go off on a little adventure to an International House or British Council somewhere.

All the best.
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JoeKing



Joined: 30 Apr 2008
Posts: 422

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:00 am    Post subject: Re: Career minded. CELTA, then 1st job. Where? Reply with quote

dolly llama wrote:



What's stopping me is fear. I'm older than your average TEFL'er and a little bit more risk adverse. I am not looking for a gap year, but a way of life for the next 10 or so years.

I want to do a CELTA course first (Thailand? China? I don't know.) and then look for work.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. My question is, given my goals and timeline, where should I start this journey? I think I would prefer Thailand for the climate and friendliness of the people. China's pollution puts me off and I seem to imagine my life there as more isolated and lonely. I'm really worried about this aspect because I don't have a lot of support or friends. If China is the place to go to get some good experience and save a little Oh Shit money, I'll do it.

South Korea would be my Plan C.


CELTA in China or Thailand? Or are there places I'm totally ignoring?
Ok, you're just asking for opinions, right? For the CELTA, go wherever you get the best combination of good deal and good location. Best for you, of course, but while I like China for work, I don't really like it as a great place to get your CELTA. You mentioned climate and friendliness, so why not try Thailand, or VN, or Indonesia?

As far as China for work, yes, pollution is a concern. When you start to consider job offers, just try to google information about the city's pollution level. I live in a relatively smog free city in China, but we did have a few days of very bad smog the likes of I have never seen before. But then it passed.

I am not sure where you got the part about isolation and loneliness in China. Sure, if you are teaching in some outpost in the middle of nowhere. But the bigger cities and even second tier cities are pretty cool -I think others will agree with me on this.

Not that I am touting China - South Korea is not bad either, and one of the best paying countries - not sure why it is your plan C. After reading your post I actually think you would do well there.

Anyway, China and South Korea are the only two countries where I have lived and taught..I can't really comment on other places.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Age: no problem. Sure, there are plenty of younger TEFLs but there are plenty a lot older too.

I would suggest that unless you really want that part of the world, places like China are not for building
a TEFL career. The work expectations there do not really fit with your CELTA (or Trinity TESOL) training.

As for where to train: if you can do this for less money by training at home, do it. While there are
employment advantages in training where you want to work, this is only good if you truly know where
you want to be. In any case, if you are able to train at home or staying with a kind friend elsewhere in the States,
I'd do it as the savings from not paying for accommodation are likely to be quite large. Also, teaching in a
multi-lingual classroom, in my opinion, leads to a wider skillset.

I don't know much about Thailand, but I believe there is a good market there.
Russia is worth considering, as the locals are really keen on developing their English, there is a competitive
market and you can work your way up. Wherever you go, count at least year one as a time to gain experience with
your main employment, not as a big earner.

Try to avoid the EU. As it is much less hassle for employers to take on Brits and Irish teachers than
to apply for visas for Americans. (Although I am told that some parts of central Europe are more
amenable than the West. Don't ask me thougn, not my area.)

Attributes:
Age: as I say, this is not an issue for you. (In fact, it isn't an issue for most people in TEFL.)
B.A. History: some advantage as you come from a 'literate background'. However, it is not a killer qual.
Hate to say it, but yes, being young, white and attractive looking will definitely help. (My point about
skin colour is that racism is blatantly acceptable in several countries.)
American: This varies.

Experience:
Tutoring: certainly better than nothing. I would add it to your cv, as it suggests that you have
some insight into areas such as the teaching of grammar.
Overseas experience: useful. Cite it. Schools do occasionally suffer from people who don't adapt.
Military veteran: don't kill me. Erm, well, there may be some employers who happen to cater
to armed forces, and - just a wild guess - you might try to find out if any foreign armed
forces take teachers of English (although check it out with your authorities first, in
case it contravenes your federal (or state?) laws - I don't know, I'm not American.)
However, these are rather outside chances. More important, it is just possible that some countries
may see you as being potentially as an intelligence person, so perhaps if it is somewhere
with poor relations with the West, you may want to play it down rather than up.

China - as I say, unless you want to become a China hand, it is unlikely to be the place to build a TEFL
career, as the jobs there appear to rather different from those in much of the rest of the world.
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dolly llama



Joined: 08 Apr 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, this was exactly what I needed!

I don't know where I picked up the idea that China was cold and lonely. Maybe just a misconception. I am so thankful for the advice that China on a resume may put off employers down the road. And the China visa situation is definitely something I want to avoid.

South Korea is Plan C for a few reasons- time-wise for getting all the required docs for the visa (...personal situation, I might be functionally homeless in a month or two and will need to GO!). Also, I'm from a warm part of the US and the cold Korean winters will really bum me out. I also feel like SK is a bit more insular, socially, and I want friendly people around me to start. Maybe another misconception.

Will poke around Indonesia and Vietnam threads.

Like most newbies, I know that first year will be tough and I'm trying to mitigate some of the emotional stuff I think I will go through. Will be leaving a long term, live-in relationship and have broken heart stuff going on. Maybe it doesn't make a difference where I am, but I want as soft a landing as I can get for that first year.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9354
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just thinking aloud here, and do not mean any disrespect. But travelling abroad to teach for the first time can be enough of an emotional roller coaster at the best of times. After some heartbreak, it might be even harder to settle in somewhere new. And there is that all saw about it being better to be going to some place rather than running from somewhere.

Needs careful thinking through is all I'm sayin'....

Best of luck with whatever you decide in the end.
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