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TEFL Professionals: the one thing you wish you knew?
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MsHoffman



Joined: 18 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 9:23 pm    Post subject: TEFL Professionals: the one thing you wish you knew? Reply with quote

Greetings TEFL Professionals,

I'm about to start applying to my first TEFL position, and I have a question for you all:

What's the one thing you wish you knew before your first overseas teaching job? I've been teaching English to adult learners for 11 years in the U.S. but I know that doesn't prepare me for living overseas. So what do you wish you knew prior to your departure?

I realize this could be a country-specific question but I haven't settled on which country I'm focusing on quite yet. So I suppose it's more of a general "knowledge and attitude for working abroad" kind of thing.

Thanks for reading,
MsHoffman
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1411
Location: 1748'N 9746'W

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TEFL and ESL in the US are kind of two different beasts.

Case in point, what do I wish I'd known before my first TEFL job?
I wish I'd known how to teach English.

I'm guessing you have that covered. Many of us learned along the way.
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 738
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:04 pm    Post subject: Re: TEFL Professionals: the one thing you wish you knew? Reply with quote

MsHoffman wrote:
Greetings TEFL Professionals,

I'm about to start applying to my first TEFL position, and I have a question for you all:

What's the one thing you wish you knew before your first overseas teaching job? I've been teaching English to adult learners for 11 years in the U.S. but I know that doesn't prepare me for living overseas. So what do you wish you knew prior to your departure?

I realize this could be a country-specific question but I haven't settled on which country I'm focusing on quite yet. So I suppose it's more of a general "knowledge and attitude for working abroad" kind of thing.

Thanks for reading,
MsHoffman


Being organized and heartless regarding pay is better than being warm and flexible.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11422
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I wish I'd known how to teach English


The third conditional for expressing regret is pretty useful to know, as MF models here:-); the title of the thread bugs me, I admit. Sorry to be picky, but this is a forum for teachers of the language!
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10841
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think most teachers wish they had packed enough of their favorite or necessary items (e.g., branded personal products, specific medications, etc.). Not everything can be easily found or purchased abroad.
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Chris Westergaard



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 215
Location: Prague

PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2016 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make an effort to learn the language immediately. People assume that just by living abroad, they'll learn the language. That's almost never the case. Sign up for lessons in the language now. It makes the experience so much better if you can speak the language a bit.
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MsHoffman



Joined: 18 Sep 2016
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris, I couldn't agree with you more! I am mostly looking for positions in Latin America, so I've been working on my Spanish every day.
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 738
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2016 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris Westergaard wrote:
Make an effort to learn the language immediately. People assume that just by living abroad, they'll learn the language. That's almost never the case. Sign up for lessons in the language now. It makes the experience so much better if you can speak the language a bit.


It's a great point; I devoted many years to formal study of Spanish and moved to Colombia early so I could take more courses before starting work.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That what seems like a great experience in your twenties can become a bit of a drag in your thirties. My advice to any new teachers would be to do it for a couple of years then move on. Unless your heart is really in it, of course. For me, there are only so many times I can teach FCE...
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1520
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:36 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

If only I'd known that it was going to be such a dead end in life. In my 20s, I just wanted to travel but things change, you have kids and life gets expensive. The days of going to the Middle East are coming to an end. My advice would be to do it for 1 year and then go get a 'normal' job, which will allow you to do what adults do and one in which you will probably be respected. EFL teachers are not respected by employers anywhere although their students might tell them they are funny etc. It's not a career, it's a number of sideways steps across a cesspit. And, don't think your colleagues will be all cool traveler types as mostly, they will be freaks and drop outs.
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Colombo



Joined: 01 Jul 2016
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@dragonpiwo...totally agree...the very term (TEFL Professional) is somewhat of an oxymoron
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 1304
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of us have "good jobs" back home. It requires locally recognized higher qualifications (and persistence). Yes, if you come back with an irrelevant degree and CELTA, it probably won't work. So, I suppose that some should know that starting out with higher qualifications (BEd TESL, BA Applied Ling, MA TESL, K-12 certification) is not overkill if you know you want to teach.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

santi84 wrote:
Some of us have "good jobs" back home. It requires locally recognized higher qualifications (and persistence). Yes, if you come back with an irrelevant degree and CELTA, it probably won't work. So, I suppose that some should know that starting out with higher qualifications (BEd TESL, BA Applied Ling, MA TESL, K-12 certification) is not overkill if you know you want to teach.


Of course these positions exist but, at least in the UK, I'd never want to do them. Many of them require a level of effort and qualifications that would be better spent on other pursuits. Like I said, each to their own, if teaching English is your calling and you can still find the same kind of enthusiasm that deserted me a long time ago, good for you. Luckily, I've managed to move into teaching in an area in my field of study though I still teach English at university level.

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from starting but I'd strongly encourage anyone to treat it more as a career break than an actual career.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Colombo wrote:
@dragonpiwo...totally agree...the very term (TEFL Professional) is somewhat of an oxymoron


Haha. Very true. It's not a respected position at all (if that kind of thing is important to you and I think it is to a certain extent)
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:19 pm    Post subject: Re: erm Reply with quote

dragonpiwo wrote:
If only I'd known that it was going to be such a dead end in life. In my 20s, I just wanted to travel but things change, you have kids and life gets expensive. The days of going to the Middle East are coming to an end. My advice would be to do it for 1 year and then go get a 'normal' job, which will allow you to do what adults do and one in which you will probably be respected. EFL teachers are not respected by employers anywhere although their students might tell them they are funny etc. It's not a career, it's a number of sideways steps across a cesspit. And, don't think your colleagues will be all cool traveler types as mostly, they will be freaks and drop outs.


Most people I know older than their twenties are just doing it out of circumstance (married to a native in a particular country or they have kids and the hours suit them). It's not generally respected. Every single one of my colleagues at the university I work at feels like they've underachieved. Maybe it's just my university, but I feel it's the prevalent attitude.
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