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Job market and education options in Montreal vs. New York

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:26 pm    Post subject: Job market and education options in Montreal vs. New York Reply with quote

I apologize for the long post! I have lots of little questions so if you can answer any little bits it will be much appreciated. Thank you for reading.

Hi there,

I am now facing some choices, and I really would like to get my options straightened out before the university application season ends because I do not want to miss it and have to spend another year in my non-career job.
For a little background on my interests, I decided a while ago that a career in teaching English as a Second Language would be right for me, but I am not interested in teaching overseas like a lot of people do when they go this route. I am looking for a much more normal teaching career, probably a public gig with good job security, one that I can continue until I retire.

First issue: My boyfriend and I are pretty solid at this point and so I am thinking of our future in terms of where both of us will be in the long run. He is interested in relocating to the NYC area whereas I would like to stay here in Montreal if possible. We have yet to decide where we will end up, but if the ESL market is much stronger in one than the other then it will be good to know, since I definitely want to pursue something that will not leave me unemployed. I have accepted the fact that teaching salaries are not great but I hope to at least have a stable lifestyle.

1. How is the market for ESL at the secondary level in Montreal and New York, if someone here knows? I would imagine it would be strong in Montreal, since most people don't speak English as their first language and I believe English is required at least up to a point in Quebec schools. I know there are also a lot of immigrants in New York who would need to learn English, but do middle and high school aged kids often come to NYC who need help with English? Could I expect to have a secure job teaching ESL at the secondary level in New York or is it a niche thing that only a few people in an area would do?

2. How is the market for teaching adults in Montreal and New York, and is there such a thing as a secure job teaching adults? I find it really appealing to teach in a public school, be in a union, have tons of job security, etc., but I suppose that doesn't exist for people who teach adults? That isn't a huge deal but I also don't want to have to hold down multiple part-time teaching gigs in order to make ends meet. I would like a full-time position that I can rely on. Is there enough demand in Montreal and/or New York to make that happen?

I still need some help understanding the path to teaching as someone who has a B.A. in an unrelated field. In Canada they are pretty adamant about having a B.Ed. in order to teach in public schools, and the one-year programs in Ontario as well as the master's for certification in Montreal require you to have majored in English, Linguistics, etc. (not to mention that I have not found any ESL certification programs in Ontario!). If I did stay put to do my B.Ed. here in Montreal it would take three or four years, but the tuition would be very cheap (~3k/year).

3. If I decide to stay in Montreal, should I bite the bullet and do that, or is three to four years for a second bachelor's just crazy? And how employable would I be in New York with a B.Ed. in TESL from Quebec?

I could avoid that in one of two ways: I could get something like McGill's TESL Certificate and perhaps an M.A. in Second Language Education, but this route would not make me a certified teacher.

4. Can someone tell me how employable I would be in a private school, for children or adults, in Montreal or New York, after this certificate? How about after the master's? Is there a decent chance I could even get a tolÚrance (exemption) to teach in public schools and get certified later?

Another option would be for me to just go to New York for my education, regardless of where I end up. Things there are completely different in that you can get a master's to become a teacher without any background in English or teaching.

5. Should I just go for this even though I don't want to leave Montreal? Can someone tell me how well such a degree from New York could cross over to certification in Quebec?

Sorry to bombard you with questions. I am sure I want to be a teacher at this point and I just really want to find my path to it without wasting more time or money than I should be. A lot of these options are confusing since I don't have any practical knowledge of how they will work out. Thank you so much for your advice.
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Joined: 10 Oct 2008
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Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take it from your post that you're a Canadian citizen? Keep in mind that while you can travel visa-free to the United States, you have no right to work or reside there. (You'd think the US and Canada would have something like EU citizenship or the Trans-Tasman Agreement, but no.) This means that you're in a similar situation as you would be working in the EU.

However you do have a slight advantage under the North American Free Trade Agreement. (I'm assuming here that your spouse is also Canadian.) If you can find a company willing to hire you, you can gain the right to work as a NAFTA professional, since "teacher" is a qualifying profession, and a baccalaureate is suitable to qualify you.

According to the Department of State
Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry. Learn about requirements and more on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Canadian citizens can also review information regarding TN visas through U.S. Embassy Ottawa's website.

The problem, which you ask about, is actually finding work. That's trickier, since usually TESOL teachers in the US have an MA or higher, and the US already has plenty of TESOLers who've returned home and don't want to get a "real" job yet. I know a foreigner who taught ESL, however 1. she started out as a French teacher and 2. she was in a small town, not New York. I will say that it's unlikely that you'll find work from abroad. My suggestion would be to go to NYC, ask around, knock on doors, and if you get an offer (or the subject of being Canadian comes up before then), explain the NAFTA professional option, and ask for a letter of invitation. With the letter, go back across the border, and enter as a NAFTA professional.

The teacher certification question is trickier. I only know the teacher licensure requirements for my home state of Massachusetts, and though I tried googling New York's it suddenly occurred to me that that's something you should do yourself if you're interested. I will say though that I think NYC's graduate program admissions are more liberal than Quebec's. I've never heard of any state requiring a specific undergraduate degree to get a Master's in Education.

Keep in mind that I'm suggesting applying as a NAFTA professional, because if you want to get a work-sponsored immigrant visa to teach English in the United States, even if you had an MA TESOL, your chances are probably nil. If you want to get sponsored to teach a language, you should consider doing a US grad program to teach French, since that's still (inexplicably) the second most popular foreign language in the United States, and at least in my high school, all of our French teachers were foreigners, at least originally. Oddly though, despite my school's relative proximity to Canada, none of them were Canadians.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in Montreal too and I have a related degree but not BEd.

There is a 3rd option that you are probably not aware of (it is new) which is McGill's MA in Teaching and Learning (with TESL option - there are other options too). It comes with public school (elementary or secondary) certification. Give them a phone call and you can also view the McGill website for details. It's 1-3 years (depending on your courseload) and gives you both the graduate degree plus the certification required.

The BEd will be an additional 3 years of study (even if you have a related degree), I've already spoken with McGill about it and it is the worst option if you already have a BA.

I wouldn't bother with teaching/certification in NY if you are Canadian. It's a lot cheaper here, the new McGill option gives you the best of both worlds, and the obvious is that it's far cheaper to live here. Go to NYC and have fun if you like, but for the career stuff, I'd stick to MTL.
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Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live on the south shore (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and TESL teachers are in very high demand here. There's a big demand for TESL in Montreal itself but outside Montreal and throughout the province, the demand is even higher.

Come live la vie rive-sud! Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've lived and worked in both cities in the ESL industry. I lived in Montreal for 3 years working at a couple of language schools and later in New York at language schools and then in public schools. But, I did have the added advantage of having duel citizenship.

In Montreal, my employment options were limited because I had overseas experience teaching in Japan, but no BA in education, no certification, and no MA to speak of. So, I was only getting responses to my resumes from language schools. My initial job search when I came back from Japan in 1999 was about 3 months to get 20 hour a week job at a language school...

Colleagues of mine who were doing a MA in applied linguistics or TESOL were also getting adjunct jobs at colleges and universities in Montreal. They said the competition for a full time position was fierce. They said public school had many more opportunities.

So, although my experiences are not recent ones, if you stay in Montreal I second the suggestion to pursue an MA in TESOL that also gives you public school certification. This is also the best qualification if you move to NYC where most teachers have an MA or need one to work permanently at a public school.

If you move to NYC (and I can talk from 10 years of experience living there up to 2011), you will need a lot of start up money to begin with. If you manage to get through the work visa hurdle, the general rule of rent is that the desirable, trendy, and safest places to live tend to be very expensive. This does not mean you will need to live way out or in a dangerous neighborhood, but will mean you should expect to live in Queens or Brooklyn and take a good half hour train ride into the city (presumably where you will work) each day. Some brave souls ride bikes all year round which you could do...

Craigslist tends to be reasonably reliable for finding shared places to live. Actually, renting a place to live is ridiculous - requires a letter addressed to yourself at a US address in the United States to open a bank account, a utility bill and brokers fee and 1 1/2 months rent up front to rent a place. You can get around a lot of this by sharing a place through something shared on Craigslist, or an owner who rents a place over Craigslist and does not care about all these other antics...

Rent for a shoebox studio could be about $800 a month. For a 1-bedroom apartment it could be $1400 a month on up... It is an extremely disheartening fact about living in NYC...

Finding work tends to be much much faster than in Montreal. Language school work, or working for a tutoring company are easy ways to find work with adults (and children) - although the pay range varies with a low of $16.5 an hour at one place I worked, to a high of $27 an hour at another place I worked. There are also some not for profit literacy centers that offer adult literacy classes and may offer something more full-time (see about this. Again craigslist is your good friend for finding ESL jobs to get you started at least...

In terms of public schools. If you can get in (and I strongly advise going through the NYC Teaching Fellows program - as they heavily subsidize your MS TESOL program and almost guarantee work placement), will likely place you in a school with high needs children (high demand for that). Likely you will be an ESL (special ed) teacher. I did that for nearly 5 years, but the politics drove me out. But, several of my colleagues have thrived in the NYC system for years. The retirement benefits are excellent as are the vacation days.

Without the NYC Teaching Fellows program (say for example you are trying to transfer your MA from Montreal into the NYC system), you will have to take teaching proficiency test, and they will comb your coursework to see if you covered all the equivalent requirements. There are different stages of licensing from Initial up to Professional Certification - so likely you'd at least meet the Initial stage meaning you could work, but may need to do a few courses while you work.

The political climate in the NYC schools is often very tempermental with teachers caught between union vs. school administrators and being lambasted for being on one side or the other. Some schools are better than others though, but be aware that politics is crazy. What's expected of you and your work in the classroom may completely change from year to year. In my own experience, one year they wanted original handouts. The next year it was - only use authentic work created by the students. The next year it was collect data on student goals and create activities to develop their skills towards these goals. You get the picture....

But if you can deal with all this, you can make a pretty good living as a teacher in NYC... provided you find full time work. (If you can't - alternatives are to sub your way into a school that needs you.............)

Good luck!
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your very informative post Timothy...

I wonder what the advantages are of a public school job over language schools/tutoring. Here in Europe the language schools seem to be the best places to work, no?

I'm fresh out of my CELTA qualification, and having a Canadian passport, I'm slightly been having dreams of trying to work in NYC. Wondering if I'd be better of panhandling with my guitar...

So what do you think? Is it possible to work your way into the language school circuit there and make a reasonable living?
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