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Is TEFL a viable career anymore?
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chuckMC



Joined: 15 Apr 2015
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 2:49 pm    Post subject: Is TEFL a viable career anymore? Reply with quote

Today I received a message from someone whose profile name starts with D and ends with the polish word for beer.:p He said that TEFL is not a good career choice because of limited prospects globally. Is TEFL a good career choice? Is it a growing or declining industry? What advice would you give the young ones who are just entering this TEFL business?

I just want to see what you guys think about this.

Thanks
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The poster you describe has what many of us consider rather extravagant (even pretentious) tastes, which we've all heard about repeatedly on this forum. He seems to particularly enjoy opportunities to write about the expensive things he can blow money on in Poland thanks to his work in the ME.

Sure, EFL can still lead to a reasonable long-term career for people who are willing to put in the time and energy to upgrade their qualifications from time to time. In fact, there are expanding opportunities in some areas for jobs that are well above and beyond entry level (and not only in the ME and Asia, either!).

It also remains a good short-term interim gig for people who want to see a bit of the world.


Last edited by spiral78 on Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
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reddevil79



Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 234
Location: Neither here nor there

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn’t say that it’s no longer viable as a career, but the industry is certainly changing and it seems as though requirements across the board increasing, which is no bad thing. More and more governments are requiring that teachers have degrees and the requisite qualifications in order to qualify for work visas. I’ve read many a post here from teachers in their respective regions that the days of walking into schools and landing jobs through being a native speaker are numbered. I’ve also noticed in the past couple of years teachers gravitating towards online teaching and working from home.

The TEFL industry is so big it’s impossible to generalise; what’s true for one region may not necessarily apply to another. While there’ll be fewer opportunities in one place, there’ll be more in another expanding market eager to recruit more teachers. I think it’ll always be possible to carve out your own little niche, it might just take longer.

I agree wholeheartedly with Spiral78 that putting in the time and effort to get further qualifications is worthwhile. I get tired of hearing or reading rants from ‘teachers’ who expect to live like a prince and yet have no qualifications whatsoever.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15330

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe better than a zero-hours contract at minimum pay. There are lots of graduates doing that in the UK.
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 459
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
The poster you describe has what many of us consider rather extravagant (even pretentious) tastes, which we've all heard about repeatedly on this forum. He seems to particularly enjoy opportunities to write about the expensive things he can blow money on in Poland thanks to his work in the ME.

Sure, EFL can still lead to a reasonable long-term career for people who are willing to put in the time and energy to upgrade their qualifications from time to time. In fact, there are expanding opportunities in some areas for jobs that are well above and beyond entry level (and not only in the ME and Asia, either!).

It also remains a good short-term interim gig for people who want to see a bit of the world.


Sounds like sour grapes to me from people who don't have the disposable income to enjoy certain luxuries in life. If you are working hard and earning good coin which you are not spending for large parts of the month, then of course you deserve to treat yourself.

Are you suggesting that he treat himself and his wife to a cheapo student veggie burger in a hip meeting place for 20 somethings? The poster in question is in his 40's and, unlike many TEFLers, can afford to live a lifestyle above the level of a student.

Why wouldn't you want to upgrade the type of restaurant you eat in? Just walk around any mid-sized medieval town in Western Europe in the summer at lunchtime. There will be several restauarants packed with families or groups of families with loads of kids in tow - probably staying in a campsite down the road - and there will be one or two where the seats are more spaced out, the chairs and tables not plastic, and the clientele more refined. The second type is €20 a main. The first is €7.50. Which would you choose? One of them resembles a McDonalds kids' party while the other has the potential to be a pleasant lunch-time experience.

Is that being flashy? No. The real wealth, no doubt, would look down on both.

The point? You get what you pay for. Many people on this site convince themselves that chewing on an old leather boot is what clever people do. Only idiots pay 'a small fortune' to eat a steak with a high marble score.

And you talk of qualifications. I work in a department of 150+ with a min of a MA TESOL. The number of people with doctorates is growing each year. The 'doctors' that stay, however, are still stuck in the classroom.

Unless they can make a name for themselves in one field or another, or can come up with a novel and marketable technological platform for the classroom, the reality is that they are competing for 'head' positions with hundreds or thousands of others. For many, the best financial route is to continue in the classrooms in the ME. In a few years time, they will be the ones best positioned to retain their jobs, while those with just an MA will be forced to fight over the scraps.

Yes, it does give them an opportunity to have a uni job in their home country, but from a UK perspective, with the pay running at around £30,000 to £45,000 per annum, and house prices (1 to 2 hours from London) running at £300,000+ for a barely satisfactory home, they will need to have the money for a house before returning.

How long would it take for them to save that in Europe?
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1638
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:49 am    Post subject: Cheers PC Reply with quote

The guy PMed me about working in the ME. Maybe he was shocked when I told him he'd need a lot of experience as well as certs.

More and more TEFL teachers about, state schools teaching kids how to speak English at younger ages, non-native teachers getting better and better, austerity, low oil prices, wages stagnating, places getting more expensive.

What would your intelligent guess be regarding TEFL prospects? I think it's a totally dumb thing to get into now. I'm too old to change. Les jeux sont faits.

I reckon even in the Middle East, we've got a decade tops.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1202
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:58 am    Post subject: Extravagantly Inaccurate Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
The poster you describe has what many of us consider rather extravagant (even pretentious) tastes, which we've all heard about repeatedly on this forum. He seems to particularly enjoy opportunities to write about the expensive things he can blow money on in Poland thanks to his work in the ME.
Not just extravagant tastes, but in many instances the prices he quotes are just plain wrong. They're often 2-3 times that price you'd actually pay in Poland. He's been called out on this before (usually by delph) and then claims he's actually not sure which restaurant/shop it was but it wasn't a really fancy one.

It's one thing to enjoy the finer things in life; it's another to constantly flaunt your wealth and tell everyone that TEFL Poland will be instant noodles and gawking at the net because a decent meal costs 100+ zloty.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11451
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

chuckMC wrote:
Is TEFL a good career choice? Is it a growing or declining industry? What advice would you give the young ones who are just entering this TEFL business?

Obviously, the stronger your qualifications, the more opportunities you'll have. But for staying power, get a relevant degree, teaching license, and experience to teach American k-12 curriculum, which will allow you to teach English (or better yet, math or science) in top international schools worldwide.

Optionally, an MA in Instructional Design or Educational Technology will open doors worldwide. Since the Gulf was mentioned, an instructional designer with Saudi Aramco easily earns a 6-figure salary exclusive of benefits. That's taking your career down a slightly different path but would allow you to work in education or corporate.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sounds like sour grapes to me from people who don't have the disposable income to enjoy certain luxuries in life. If you are working hard and earning good coin which you are not spending for large parts of the month, then of course you deserve to treat yourself.


Hmm. I happen to have a very good job, and have had for over a decade. Very generous holiday, nicely appointed office, and I can definitely afford to live quite well. My pension will allow me to do basically everything I enjoy. But I don't need to flaunt that on the boards at every sliver of opportunity. Now, I'll go treat myself to a very nice long lunch on the cobblestones of 'my' European city Rolling Eyes

My MA and years of experience have served me very nicely and I really enjoy my job - and have said the same thing since 2003. I get to go to interesting occasional projects abroad, and attend conferences across two continents.

I wouldn't be pretentious enough to suggest that newbies can't achieve the standard of living that I have Rolling Eyes

Nor do I feel compelled to tell you exactly what I'm eating and drinking, and its cost (or the name of the nice hotel where I stayed on my latest holiday) ad nauseum.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1638
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:17 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

Enjoy the grapes.

The only time Delph ever called me out, he'd not read something properly.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The only time Delph ever called me out, he'd not read something properly.


And that's relevant here in what way, exactly?
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1562
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dragonpiwo is an honest bloke, so I do not dismiss what he says offhand.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1638
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:12 pm    Post subject: yep Reply with quote

Cheers.

I live in Poland , so how I can be 'wrong' , you tell me? I just don't eat and drink in places where everyone is 23.


Last edited by dragonpiwo on Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Berlin's in Poland these days?
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simon_porter00



Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 505
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Getting back to the OP. And don'the worry i'm not going to scream at you again so take me off the block list, the only way to make a career in TELL in Poland is to get entrepreneurial and fast. Career progression in a private school is a non starter. Career progression in a uni notoriously difficult if even possible. Public sector probably not DD would know best. Where does that leave you?

You can grow your own clientele and stay small, but that's a per hour existence. You can start your own school by employing a few people in which case you're earning on the back of them or go in big with a school building etc but there are plenty of risks. In my opinion unless you've got a unique selling point you'll always be fighting for scraps at the table with the boys big schools.

Is a TEFL career possible? It's difficult, very difficult and if you're not entrepreneurial dammed near impossible. Even then, I've been on my own for 8 years or so and all my 'development' is down to me. If you can't be arsed you'll be stuck in the same rut which also leads to despondency.

If you have something to offer a day work hard, monetarily you'll do well (you have to keep on reinventing the wheel every few years though) but careerwise it'll always be a struggle.

If I were you and I had to stay in small town, the only profitable market that's left (not niche English) is kid's English. There's HUGE money in kid's English and it's a massively under exploited market in Poland.
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