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Progressing an EFL Career vs. Other Interests
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PO1



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 126

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:51 am    Post subject: Progressing an EFL Career vs. Other Interests Reply with quote

Since this was brought up in another thread, I decided to make a new topic here. I think there's an idea amongst many EFL teachers now that they are not so much interested in getting better and better EFL jobs, but have more focus on other interests in Japan (martial arts, traveling, nightlife, etc.)

While there is an idea that some people feel they are stuck in dead end EFL careers, some aren't necessarily resigning to that fate, but embracing it. If they are comfortable in their lifestyle and have many interests outside of work, it seems like a pretty content way to live.

Some may see this as a bad thing (stagnation, settling, etc.) but I feel this happens everywhere. Just because someone stays at a certain kind of job doesn't necessarily mean they are lazy (although it can), but maybe they just prefer the security they're offered so they can pursue other interests.

Thoughts?


Last edited by PO1 on Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 445
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is some of that. I think some people think they know how to teach, so go on automatic pilot.
I think some people are really more motivated by things outside work, but I find this with some people who are single.
Some people actually want to teach and have humility since they know there is more to learn about teaching.
Half of teaching is learning. It is a Japanese proverb.

I grow tired of teachers who really just do enough not to get fired. Do your job, then do what you want in your free time, but some teachers just live for their weekends. It is a kind of arrested development. Live for your vacations.

Some people get stuck and never do something else. I guess they get addicted to the expatriate lifestyle.

On the other hand, as Steve Jobs would say, be foolish. After marriage life changes and there is pressure just to make money.
For people who just stay in the USA, like my brother, he is stuck with two kids. He just has to make money and take care of his own kids.
His only solace is getting drunk.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 887
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:12 am    Post subject: Re: Progressing an ESL Career vs. Other Interests Reply with quote

Here's how one person I know (who shall remain nameless) put the case for not investing in your ESL career:
Quote:
You'd be crazy to try and build a career in ESL. It's a fine way to earn a living when you don't speak the local language, but long term, it sucks.

And our employers seem to think the same. You disagree? Okay then. Come back when you've got a contract for more than 1 year, and we'll discuss it some more.

It beats me why any ESL teacher would view this as more than a temporary gig.
I can't say I agree with every word, but he has a point.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9126
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Come back when you've got a contract for more than 1 year, and we'll discuss it some more.

It beats me why any ESL teacher would view this as more than a temporary gig.


So, I've been teaching full-time since 1998 and I have a secure university position. Why in the world would I view this as more than a temporary gig? Rolling Eyes

Of course, this isn't an inevitable outcome for all EFLers, but there are career choices and options in the field.


Last edited by spiral78 on Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 445
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because you do not work in Japan.
The vast majority of positions in this country are for one year contracts.
Younger teachers are valued more for their inexperience since people think that they are easier to control.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 887
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
Quote:
Come back when you've got a contract for more than 1 year, and we'll discuss it some more.

It beats me why any ESL teacher would view this as more than a temporary gig.


So, I've been teaching full-time since 1998 and I have a tenured university position. Why in the world would I view this as more than a temporary gig? Rolling Eyes

I was hoping somebody like you would come forward to make the opposing case. But I was also hoping you'd have a little more to say...
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 445
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usually she does but not this time. I think she is in Canada or eastern Europe.
It really does not compare with Japan.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9126
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Because you do not work in Japan.
The vast majority of positions in this country are for one year contracts.
Younger teachers are valued more for their inexperience since people think that they are easier to control.



The vast majority of jobs in Europe and Canada are also for entry-level teachers. The vast majority of jobs worldwide are logically of course for newbies on one-year or less contracts. My point is that there are options for people who want to pursue real careers in the field. Glenski, for example, who used to hang about here quite a bit, has a long-term secure university position in Japan. It's not the norm anywhere, but it's possible most everywhere.

I do only occasional project work in Eastern Europe, by the way. I am not an expert on that part of the continent.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 887
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:
Younger teachers are valued more for their inexperience since people think that they are easier to control.
Are you sure about that?

I've heard that claim repeated many times, but nobody's yet told me why I should credit it over any other explanation for the youthfulness of most new teachers.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 445
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That has been my experience at a university and high school in Tokyo.
It really seems that there are the inexperienced and those with a lot of experience.
Some people get squeezed in the middle, as there are fewer opportunities for decent work.
Getting tenure in Japan is not easy to get.
Usually being good at Japanese is a prerequisite. Thus, since many teachers are not proficient in Japanese, might as well hirer younger teachers since they can be paid less.
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Big_H



Joined: 21 Dec 2013
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Progressing an ESL Career vs. Other Interests Reply with quote

PO1 wrote:
While there is an idea that some people feel they are stuck in dead end ESL careers, some aren't necessarily resigning to that fate, but embracing it. If they are comfortable in their lifestyle and have many interests outside of work, it seems like a pretty content way to live.


I strongly relate to those two lines. It may be sounding like a new, wet behind the ear teacher's ramblings, but I believe in being in a position of trust and using it to guide learners to grow. And if I get that rare chance to leave a lasting impression along the way for a few of those students, be it love for languages, other cultures or realizing heights that they can reach if they work hard enough, then all the more reason for me to keep going.

I highly suspect that some wouldn't relate to dreams that aren't as ambitious sounding as taking the world by storm, opulence, fame and the rest of the Hollywood inferred charades.

This isn't to say that I have don't have ambitions, but leading a career which I'd be extremely skilled at and enjoy doing isn't something everyone gets to say these days. I can just as easily claim to people who perceive TESL as a mediocre profession that they are not ambitious enough to inspire students into reaching their full potential. But I'm not in the business of writing off other people's ambitions but rather inspiring them; and teaching while specifically living in Japan is my own ambition.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 388
Location: US

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
So, I've been teaching full-time since 1998 and I have a secure university position. Why in the world would I view this as more than a temporary gig? Rolling Eyes

Of course, this isn't an inevitable outcome for all EFLers, but there are career choices and options in the field.

Yes, there are options for a career in TEFL, and you (and many of us) are an example of that. But, you've said many times on here that that additional qualifications have allowed you to 'progress' to this type of position. The question in this thread, as I understand it from the OP and the other thread that this discussion began on, is whether there is anything inherently 'wrong' about people who stay in what are essentially entry-level positions for an extended duration, or even forever (e.g., eikaiwa or ALT positions), and getting fulfillment not from their job but rather other interests outside of work.

Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with people using such a position in order to pursue other activities outside of work, provided that they still do a decent job, and don't do their students a disservice. However, the way society is set up, such a job probably will be difficult to maintain long-term (many schools won't want to hire a 55 year-old ALT for a 25 year-old JTE), and likely won't provide the resources that are often necessary in order to support a family. That said, if both spouses work, don't have many children, and don't live in a very expensive area, many entry-level EFL positions might be enough. In that case, no, there's nothing wrong with staying in that type of position if one is content.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9126
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't disagree. I also know some people who've been in EFL relatively longer term with only entry level quals, and who are indeed content with their lot.

I was only taking exception to whoever it was who posted that the job sucks long-term. Not necessarily true.
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PO1



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 126

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know several people with their "feet in two worlds" so to speak. Meaning they still have a strong connection to their home country, but also love to live abroad. This doesn't mean they don't have a passion for teaching, its just that they do it in shorter stints so they can go between Japan (or another country) and their home country. This approach makes them happy because they get the best of both worlds: the ability to live and work abroad while also maintaining connections at home.

Other people I know have strong outside interests. Teaching is one of those jobs that typically gives lots of holidays. This is less true for some eikaiwa jobs, but for the most part I'd say you get a good deal of time off. This allows a lot of opportunity to pursue outside interests in Japan, which for most is traveling about.

Climbing a ladder to a better career is not always everyone's top priority. I applaud those who get more certifications and study Japanese to get better jobs, but that's a huge time and money investment that some may not be able to manage. This doesn't mean their lazy or stagnant, just content.

Growing up the dream was always get married, have kids, get a good job, retire, and live out your twilight years enjoying the house you paid for and traveling. While that's still an admirable goal, this is not necessarily the status quo anymore. I actually find a lot of people I know came to ESL to escape that very likelihood. Maybe some don't take the career seriously, I don't know, but for me I've always enjoyed teaching on some level. I hope that shines through for my students.
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Solar Strength



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 552
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:
There is some of that. I think some people think they know how to teach, so go on automatic pilot.

I think some people are really more motivated by things outside work, but I find this with some people who are single.

Some people actually want to teach and have humility since they know there is more to learn about teaching.

Half of teaching is learning. It is a Japanese proverb.

I grow tired of teachers who really just do enough not to get fired. Do your job, then do what you want in your free time, but some teachers just live for their weekends. It is a kind of arrested development. Live for your vacations.

Some people get stuck and never do something else. I guess they get addicted to the expatriate lifestyle.

On the other hand, as Steve Jobs would say, be foolish. After marriage life changes and there is pressure just to make money.

For people who just stay in the USA, like my brother, he is stuck with two kids. He just has to make money and take care of his own kids.

His only solace is getting drunk.


Wow! A lot of honesty - and accuracy - in this post.

However, I disagree with the comments about "living for the weekends" or "living for the vacations."

Yeah, that's normal. Go back to the U.S. and people cant stop talking about their upcoming trip to Mexico when standing around the water cooler. I don't think EFL is any exception in this regard.

Also, who gives a shit? If the Ts are teaching what they are supposed to and getting along with staff and students, then I would not begrudge them for having interests in Jujitsu or Judo outside of class, etc.

Besides, your employer doesn't give 2-shits about you.
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