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TEFL Professionals: the one thing you wish you knew?
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spiral78



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

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
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.


This isn't my experience in Germanic regions or further East in Europe. My colleagues across the region over the past 18 years have nearly all held graduate level qualifications, do ongoing research into interesting and relevant stuff, get published, attend conferences and present at them, and are pretty well respected by other university faculty (and we are faculty, by the way). In my experience, if you're happy living an academic lifestyle and are willing to get the quals to land the jobs, it can be a really nice long-term gig.

May not be the same everywhere, obviously!!
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1519
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:04 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

My current TEFL salary is 75,000 English pounds pa tax free plus food and digs.
This kind of gig is so rare it's like finding the yeti. Most of you will end up in dead ends moving sideways, worrying about how you are going to pay for your ticket home.
When I'm not here, I live there in Eastern Europe where I once worked at a uni. Giving lectures on things that are total nonsense like VARK or NLP doesn't pay the bills and is nothing to shout about. I've sat in endless workshops etc which have had no practical value at all.
Do this for a year to transition out of college and travel. Then, go get a real job.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
Quote:
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.


This isn't my experience in Germanic regions or further East in Europe. My colleagues across the region over the past 18 years have nearly all held graduate level qualifications, do ongoing research into interesting and relevant stuff, get published, attend conferences and present at them, and are pretty well respected by other university faculty (and we are faculty, by the way). In my experience, if you're happy living an academic lifestyle and are willing to get the quals to land the jobs, it can be a really nice long-term gig.

May not be the same everywhere, obviously!!


That's fine if you've had that positive experience but even somebody who does a fair bit of research is still going to spend at least some time teaching the past simple to beginners. Like I said, each to their own but I wouldn't recommend spending time and money getting graduate qualifications unless you're as passionate about it as you are. I like my job, but it's not my life or something I'm particularly interested in.
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spiral78



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

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but even somebody who does a fair bit of research is still going to spend at least some time teaching the past simple to beginners


I haven't taught a student under B2 since 1999:-) Students with lower levels of English either aren't accepted as university students, or don't stick around.

However,, as you say, this isn't a typical path for ESL teachers and these jobs aren't thick on the ground, so I acknowledge that duplicating my experience isn't a wide open path for newbies.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 995
Location: US

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
I haven't taught a student under B2 since 1999:-) Students with lower levels of English either aren't accepted as university students, or don't stick around.

However,, as you say, this isn't a typical path for ESL teachers and these jobs aren't thick on the ground, so I acknowledge that duplicating my experience isn't a wide open path for newbies.

So, basically, you're saying that your experiences have little relevance to most ESL/EFL teachers.

From what everyone has been saying here, it seems that many people get into EFL teaching as a short-term way to see the world, but then never get out of it and find it increasingly difficult to do so over time. In many situations, other teachers or people in the community may not have much respect for EFL teachers, especially where the main qualification for the job is speaking one's native language (but also sometimes even when one has graduate degrees). For most, EFL teaching will pay the bills and provide an OK lifestyle, but that's about it. To get a decent job, one needs to invest substantial amounts of time, energy, and money gaining additional qualifications and acquiring in-demand, specialist skills, and even then, that investment likely doesn't provide as good of ROI as many other ways to spend that time, energy, and money. But, if you actually enjoy teaching, it can be worth it.
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spiral78



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

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

Quote:
So, basically, you're saying that your experiences have little relevance to most ESL/EFL teachers.


In the sense that few people are going to do exactly what I have done, that's correct. However, along the way I've gained quite a lot of knowledge and experience about the profession and the region that are relevant even to newbies Wink
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joe30



Joined: 07 Jul 2016
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I'd done a PGCE before I ever set foot abroad - since only post-qualification experience counts on the international school payscale, and you get more money with one even as a beginner anyway.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
Quote:
but even somebody who does a fair bit of research is still going to spend at least some time teaching the past simple to beginners


I haven't taught a student under B2 since 1999:-) Students with lower levels of English either aren't accepted as university students, or don't stick around.

However,, as you say, this isn't a typical path for ESL teachers and these jobs aren't thick on the ground, so I acknowledge that duplicating my experience isn't a wide open path for newbies.


I can find teaching more advanced students equally as boring!
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spiral78



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

PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, I guess sometimes beginners or lower ints can be quite fun - I wasn't touting advanced students as more interesting. Just stating that that's who I teach.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10831
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

joe30 wrote:
I wish I'd done a PGCE before I ever set foot abroad - since only post-qualification experience counts on the international school payscale, and you get more money with one even as a beginner anyway.

The advice to stay home and get certified/licensed in k-12 before heading overseas isn't new to these forums. Ditto for getting a valid TEFL cert prior to teaching. In today's competitive TEFL market, taking shortcuts can easily derail prospective teachers' dreams of moving up the TEFL ladder.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 183

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
Oh, I guess sometimes beginners or lower ints can be quite fun - I wasn't touting advanced students as more interesting. Just stating that that's who I teach.


My point was more that unless you're really passionate about teaching English then even a position that involves research will get a little repetitive. I'm not having a go, I just think people should go into it with their eyes open. Positions like yours are few and far between and involve graduate qualifications that, in many cases, would be better being done in another field. For me, it's just an easy gig and I'm not going to look back with pride on my career at this point though maybe that will change.
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joe30



Joined: 07 Jul 2016
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
joe30 wrote:
I wish I'd done a PGCE before I ever set foot abroad - since only post-qualification experience counts on the international school payscale, and you get more money with one even as a beginner anyway.

The advice to stay home and get certified/licensed in k-12 before heading overseas isn't new to these forums. Ditto for getting a valid TEFL cert prior to teaching. In today's competitive TEFL market, taking shortcuts can easily derail prospective teachers' dreams of moving up the TEFL ladder.


Yeah, basically 3 years of teaching that isn't going to count for anything (payscale wise) once I've finished the PGCE course. Ends up working out as a lot of cash foregone both in the future (salary scale wise) as well as working for lower EFL wages in the past rather than in a international school with housing etc provided.

Assuming 3 additional years on the payscale yields $3,000 extra a year (which is fairly standard, conservative even) then over a 30 year career that's $90,000 that's been foregone, as well as the additional $10,000 or so a year one could have earned in each of the 3 years just from having a PGCE to begin with. So well over a $100,000 mistake, and plenty of people make it.

Nothing that can be done about it now mind, just have to live with it.
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santi84



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

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All jobs can be boring and repetitive though. Sometimes people get enchanted with the prospect of life abroad that they forget home is often just the same thing (same stuff, different day). I had a not-so-brief (six years) stint in emergency services and even this most exciting career involved repetition in the end. Teaching basic word order and writing 10 promise-to-appears a night isn't too much different.

A job is a job, I guess!
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 560

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To counter some of the other stories in this thread, I wish that I had known about the potential of the EFL market in my local area earlier. I wasted quite a bit of time deciding whether or not to get started. When I did eventually dive in, it quickly became apparent that it was the right decision, possibly one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I understand I'm in a minority, having found satisfying and well-paid EFL work, but despite the general downturn in the EFL market, it's important to note that there are still opportunities out there.
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RedLightning



Joined: 08 Aug 2015
Posts: 99
Location: United States

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:28 pm    Post subject: Re: TEFL Professionals: the one thing you wish you knew? Reply with quote

MsHoffman wrote:


What's the one thing you wish you knew before your first overseas teaching job?
MsHoffman


You can't escape the BS/nonsense of Western academia
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