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First entry in to the Middle East teaching market?
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Geostride87



Joined: 18 Dec 2015
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:34 am    Post subject: First entry in to the Middle East teaching market? Reply with quote

Hello Everyone!

My wife and I are fairly new to the EFL teaching world, and had a few questions for those of you with experience in middle eastern countries.

First, a bit about us. We're both native english speakers from Canada. I have a bachelors in Science (Geology) and a Diploma in Petroleum Engineering, and have worked in the Oil and Gas sector on and off since 2008 as I completed my degree. My wife just graduated from a bachelors of Science (biology), and has worked as a behaviour therapist with autistic children.

With the downturn in oil and gas industry in the last year or two in Canada, my job situation was pretty grim, and we decided to use the time to travel and see the world, and, based on our personalities and interests, we thought teaching would be the best way to do it. We did our TESOL certification in Canada (60h in class, 60h online with a 'business specialization'). Soon thereafter, we received an offer from an agency in Thailand, and have been teaching at a primary school here (in Thailand) since April. So we're NOT licensed teachers by any means, and like I said, still fairly green to this industry.

My questions for you guys are:

- Given our backgrounds, where would be the best place for us to try to enter the EFL market in the Middle East? Is it realistic to look for work in countries like Saudi / Kuwait / UAE / Oman / Qatar?

- I've been looking at postings on this site, as well as recruiting sites like "Footprints" and "Desert" Recruiting. I'm sure there are others out there....does anyone have any suggestions?

- If our experience and background don't qualify us to teach in the ME, how many years of experience should we aim to have before applying?

I want to be clear that I fully understand we don't meet the qualifications of most of the postings that I've seen on the job board. We're not licensed teachers, nor is our education background in TEFL. But I thought I'd reach out and ask about the possibilities of getting a position something similar to what we're doing right now in Thailand, Primary or Secondary school teaching. I'm also curious if my experience in oil and gas might be an asset at all?

Why do we want to leave Thailand? It's actually been great here so far, but we've both got student loans to pay off back home, and it's pretty hard doing that when earning in Thai Baht!

Your comments and advice would be greatly appreciated! Cheers!
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11375
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geostride87 wrote:
I want to be clear that I fully understand we don't meet the qualifications of most of the postings that I've seen on the job board. We're not licensed teachers, nor is our education background in TEFL. But I thought I'd reach out and ask about the possibilities of getting a position something similar to what we're doing right now in Thailand, Primary or Secondary school teaching. I'm also curious if my experience in oil and gas might be an asset at all?

Why do we want to leave Thailand? It's actually been great here so far, but we've both got student loans to pay off back home, and it's pretty hard doing that when earning in Thai Baht!

Given your minimal TEFL experience and lack of k-12 science teaching and TEFL qualifications (online certs/coursework are not accepted), your best bet is to look to China for work. You both may even be able to land positions teaching science, despite the lack of licensure. I suggest you post over on the General Asia and China forums.

That said, you could certainly look for oil-related opportunities that capitalize on your specific Canada experience. It's not a red-hot market right now in the GCC but definitely check out the employment sites for Qatar Petroleum and Saudi Aramco.
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Geostride87



Joined: 18 Dec 2015
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciate the input...it's sort of what I was expecting anyway. I do know of exceptions to the rule, but I'm guessing those are rare.

Just a question about your comment about online coursework...and not that I'm going to try and be deceptive about this, but my certification does not say anything about the online component....it just says 120 hour tesol. Given that there are hundreds of 'schools' that certify in TESOL and TEFL...how do employers know if there was an online portion or not?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11375
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geostride87 wrote:
I appreciate the input...it's sort of what I was expecting anyway. I do know of exceptions to the rule, but I'm guessing those are rare.

Just a question about your comment about online coursework...and not that I'm going to try and be deceptive about this, but my certification does not say anything about the online component....it just says 120 hour tesol. Given that there are hundreds of 'schools' that certify in TESOL and TEFL...how do employers know if there was an online portion or not?

There are exceptions to some extent; a sketchy Saudi contracting company might give you a second look. But that's a road you really don't want to go down.

In terms of TEFL certs, employers require a CELTA or equivalent in-person 120-hour course that included at least 6 hours of supervised/assessed teaching practice. Qualifying credentials do get reviewed and authenticated during the visa application process. In fact, even a TESOL-related MA gets rejected if it entailed any online coursework.

If you both had gotten Canadian licenses to teach science, you would have had quite a few teaching opportunities open to you. But given your present financial situation, obtaining licensure isn't feasible, which is why you should give China a look. Be sure to indicate your flexibility --- that you're willing to teach science and not just EFL. Otherwise, try the oil companies.
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Geostride87



Joined: 18 Dec 2015
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Geostride87 wrote:
I appreciate the input...it's sort of what I was expecting anyway. I do know of exceptions to the rule, but I'm guessing those are rare.

Just a question about your comment about online coursework...and not that I'm going to try and be deceptive about this, but my certification does not say anything about the online component....it just says 120 hour tesol. Given that there are hundreds of 'schools' that certify in TESOL and TEFL...how do employers know if there was an online portion or not?

There are exceptions to some extent; a sketchy Saudi contracting company might give you a second look. But that's a road you really don't want to go down.

In terms of TEFL certs, employers require a CELTA or equivalent in-person 120-hour course that included at least 6 hours of supervised/assessed teaching practice. Qualifying credentials do get reviewed and authenticated during the visa application process. In fact, even a TESOL-related MA gets rejected if it entailed any online coursework.

If you both had gotten Canadian licenses to teach science, you would have had quite a few teaching opportunities open to you. But given your present financial situation, obtaining licensure isn't feasible, which is why you should give China a look. Be sure to indicate your flexibility --- that you're willing to teach science and not just EFL. Otherwise, try the oil companies.


Okay, that makes sense.

We'll certainly look in to China, as well as Korea and Japan. We're keeping our options open, but ME certainly would've been nice, and we're pretty familiar with the culture, so it wouldn't be too much of a culture shock.

Aside from oil company websites, are there any specific job boards that you would recommend I check to explore the oil and gas route?

Thanks again for the input and advice!
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11375
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geostride87 wrote:
Aside from oil company websites, are there any specific job boards that you would recommend I check to explore the oil and gas route?

I'm female, so none to personally recommend aside from Saudi Aramco's and Qatar Petroleum's job boards for positions that fit your Canada oil experience. Also do an Internet search using oil gas jobs middle east. But like N. America, the industry has slowed down due to falling oil prices (see http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=114656).

Anyway, definitely post on the Korea (http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/), China, and Japan forums for the best teaching prospects that pay enough for both paying down your student loan debts and socking aside some savings.
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Geostride87



Joined: 18 Dec 2015
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once again, I appreciate you taking the time out and replying! In addition to ME job boards, I'll be looking more in to China / Korea / Japan etc, and checking out those message boards as well Smile
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 742
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep in mind the same phenomena that drove you from Canada is occurring - only more so - in all of the Middle East.
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danshengou



Joined: 17 Feb 2016
Posts: 434
Location: A bizarre overcrowded hole

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With your background, I would skip TEFL and try to get into a petro-related gig in the ME. While the jobs aren't as abundant as they used to be, you should still be able to find something. Check out Qatar, for example. The income potential is obviously much higher than TEFL.
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Geostride87



Joined: 18 Dec 2015
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spanglish wrote:
Keep in mind the same phenomena that drove you from Canada is occurring - only more so - in all of the Middle East.


Really? I would think that the Oil Industry in Canada was hit much harder, given the cost of extracting our crude is much higher than that of the ME. Our heavy oil break-even point, therefore is much higher. But there may be other factors that I don't know about. I know that in Canada, the recovery is supposed to be much slower, as compared to the rest of the world.

Quote:
With your background, I would skip TEFL and try to get into a petro-related gig in the ME. While the jobs aren't as abundant as they used to be, you should still be able to find something. Check out Qatar, for example. The income potential is obviously much higher than TEFL.


Well, from June 2015 to February 2016, most of the oil and gas related applications I sent out were to the Middle East. I did not hear back from a single one. There were / are too many highly qualified professionals who had either already been laid off in North America, or pre-emptively made the move to the middle east before things got worse in Canada and the US. Therefore, I'm competing with those with 10+ years of experience, along with Masters or PHD level qualifications.

That being said, I still regularly check job postings in the ME for oil and gas as well, and apply to any that I may have a chance at. Still no bites haha Mad

Teaching english has actually been a welcome break from oil and gas, which was pretty stressful in the economic climate leading up to all the layoffs. I'm content teaching english right now, my wife and I are both enjoying it....the plan is to just assess and evaluate the opportunities as they come. Hard to plan for or predict what we'll be doing 5 years from now haha!

Thanks again everyone!
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 742
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geostride87 wrote:
spanglish wrote:
Keep in mind the same phenomena that drove you from Canada is occurring - only more so - in all of the Middle East.


Really? I would think that the Oil Industry in Canada was hit much harder, given the cost of extracting our crude is much higher than that of the ME. Our heavy oil break-even point, therefore is much higher. But there may be other factors that I don't know about. I know that in Canada, the recovery is supposed to be much slower, as compared to the rest of the world.

Quote:
With your background, I would skip TEFL and try to get into a petro-related gig in the ME. While the jobs aren't as abundant as they used to be, you should still be able to find something. Check out Qatar, for example. The income potential is obviously much higher than TEFL.


Well, from June 2015 to February 2016, most of the oil and gas related applications I sent out were to the Middle East. I did not hear back from a single one. There were / are too many highly qualified professionals who had either already been laid off in North America, or pre-emptively made the move to the middle east before things got worse in Canada and the US. Therefore, I'm competing with those with 10+ years of experience, along with Masters or PHD level qualifications.

That being said, I still regularly check job postings in the ME for oil and gas as well, and apply to any that I may have a chance at. Still no bites haha Mad

Teaching english has actually been a welcome break from oil and gas, which was pretty stressful in the economic climate leading up to all the layoffs. I'm content teaching english right now, my wife and I are both enjoying it....the plan is to just assess and evaluate the opportunities as they come. Hard to plan for or predict what we'll be doing 5 years from now haha!

Thanks again everyone!


Look at oil revenues as percentage of exports and percentage of GDP and you'll see that it is far lower in Canada than in oil-dependent Middle Eastern countries, hence the greater vulnerability to oil price swings.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 17605
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2016 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spanglish wrote:
Look at oil revenues as percentage of exports and percentage of GDP and you'll see that it is far lower in Canada than in oil-dependent Middle Eastern countries, hence the greater vulnerability to oil price swings.

Exactly!!

In spite of the fact that this oil plunge was started by Saudi Arabia purely to try to kill the tar sands and the Bakken Fracking boom, it has hurt their economies much more. So it goes when you have only one source of income for the national budget.

VS
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hash



Joined: 17 Dec 2014
Posts: 446
Location: Wadi Jinn

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all due respect, and without trying to sound callous, I think you are putting your head in the sand and keeping it there.

Are you in fact, giving up on your career in the petroleum industry? That's what it sounds like to me. Not that I'm advising against such action - from the little I know, it seems to me the "oil" industry is NEVER going to come back to what it once was.....and you yourself mentioned that there are hordes of better qualified than you personnel waiting on the wingtips in case things pick up (they won't).

As you know, in technical fields you pretty much have to keep up with tech developments almost on a daily basis, keep in training, work in the field and so on. I don't think you can just "go off" somewhere for a couple of years to Southeast Asia and then come back into your field and be taken seriously by any employer. (No one in the petroleum field is going to be impressed that you were teaching English in Thailand for a couple of years).

My point is - if you're going to enter the ESL teaching field either at home or abroad, you better start thinking about "credentials" and qualifications. A TEFL "certificate" is nearly useless in the sense that you'd only be qualified for the lowest paying jobs.....anywhere. How long will you be satisfied with that? A year? Two? Then what?

Remember, the road you are treading on now has been trod by countless others before you in similar circumstances. In every case, they eventually had to bite the bullet they were avoiding. To me, that sounds like the crossroad you're at now. Good luck.
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 742
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hash wrote:
With all due respect, and without trying to sound callous, I think you are putting your head in the sand and keeping it there.

Are you in fact, giving up on your career in the petroleum industry? That's what it sounds like to me. Not that I'm advising against such action - from the little I know, it seems to me the "oil" industry is NEVER going to come back to what it once was.....and you yourself mentioned that there are hordes of better qualified than you personnel waiting on the wingtips in case things pick up (they won't).

As you know, in technical fields you pretty much have to keep up with tech developments almost on a daily basis, keep in training, work in the field and so on. I don't think you can just "go off" somewhere for a couple of years to Southeast Asia and then come back into your field and be taken seriously by any employer. (No one in the petroleum field is going to be impressed that you were teaching English in Thailand for a couple of years).

My point is - if you're going to enter the ESL teaching field either at home or abroad, you better start thinking about "credentials" and qualifications. A TEFL "certificate" is nearly useless in the sense that you'd only be qualified for the lowest paying jobs.....anywhere. How long will you be satisfied with that? A year? Two? Then what?

Remember, the road you are treading on now has been trod by countless others before you in similar circumstances. In every case, they eventually had to bite the bullet they were avoiding. To me, that sounds like the crossroad you're at now. Good luck.


I agree with all of the above except the odd font.
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Geostride87



Joined: 18 Dec 2015
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hash wrote:
With all due respect, and without trying to sound callous, I think you are putting your head in the sand and keeping it there.

Are you in fact, giving up on your career in the petroleum industry? That's what it sounds like to me. Not that I'm advising against such action - from the little I know, it seems to me the "oil" industry is NEVER going to come back to what it once was.....and you yourself mentioned that there are hordes of better qualified than you personnel waiting on the wingtips in case things pick up (they won't).

As you know, in technical fields you pretty much have to keep up with tech developments almost on a daily basis, keep in training, work in the field and so on. I don't think you can just "go off" somewhere for a couple of years to Southeast Asia and then come back into your field and be taken seriously by any employer. (No one in the petroleum field is going to be impressed that you were teaching English in Thailand for a couple of years).

My point is - if you're going to enter the ESL teaching field either at home or abroad, you better start thinking about "credentials" and qualifications. A TEFL "certificate" is nearly useless in the sense that you'd only be qualified for the lowest paying jobs.....anywhere. How long will you be satisfied with that? A year? Two? Then what?

Remember, the road you are treading on now has been trod by countless others before you in similar circumstances. In every case, they eventually had to bite the bullet they were avoiding. To me, that sounds like the crossroad you're at now. Good luck.


I appreciate the input.

By no means am I giving up on my career in O&G. In fact, I've kept in touch with previous contractors, whom I have a very good relationship with. We're all in the same boat right now. The oilsands, in which almost all my experience has been in, have been hit pretty hard. When things start to pick up again, whenever that may be, I do hope to go back.

I've also looked at further education / training related to my field....courses in GIS, Industry software etc. But all that isn't cheap, and for a couple who are still paying off student loans, it's not a realistic option at the moment. Nor is affording the high cost of living in city I'm from in Canada, when neither of us have any real work.

So yea, we're in SE Asia for the moment, trying to figure things out. It just so happens that we're also enjoying teaching. It certainly beats sitting at home, sending resume after resume out while burning through our savings.

At some point we're going to come to a crossroads and decide between a) going back to oil and gas b)committing to the ESL industry and upgrading our certificates to something more substantial or c) branching out or building on our education from back home (ie - GIS). But I think it's too early to project any of that right now.
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