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On the ground report from Sydney

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Joined: 23 Nov 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:12 am    Post subject: On the ground report from Sydney Reply with quote

Hello. This forum can occasionally be lacking in recent reports, so here's mine.

I've been in Australia for 6 months on a working holiday visa. Most of that time has been spent working in Sydney. I've got a CELTA and roughly a decade of experience.

There's plenty of work. I used and I'd been offered a job in Sydney before I even arrived. Within a few days I had another interview and ended up taking the second job.

Standards are very low. The private institutions are pack-em-high-and-keep-em-happy in their approach. ESL at that level in Sydney is really just a parasitical industry making money off the back of visa regulations for foreign visitors.

I've worked at two schools in Sydney and know people here who have worked in plenty of others. I've first or second-hand experience of schools in the CBD, Bondi, Manly and North Sydney.

First of all, it's very easy to find work. If you've got a CELTA and a working holiday visa, you're more or less in. Job interviews here are not job interviews. They will go through the motions of asking you a grammar question, but mainly it's a case of 'When can you start and what hours can you teach?'. Employers value experience with Cambridge exams (at least say they do) but I know people who have been hired here who have never taught them. To find work use or or just Google schools and email them directly.

Once you're in work you'll find many of your students are here on student visas which require them to be in a class. Most of them don't really want to study, they just want to work. That's understandable, but makes for difficult conditions in the class. I've found high numbers of Brazilian students along with Japanese, Koreans, Chinese and a few Europeans thrown into the mix. Some students are there to study, but many are not. This can be difficult as students will usually need t oattend at least 80% of the classes to keep their visas. So, often you'll have four or five students who have been working all night and will turn up exhausted and more or less sleeping. Usually they're pleasant enough and happy to just be in the class and do nothing, often sleep. Clearly this is not a good condition for a teacher trying to teach a class of 15-20 students. Expect little support from the school. As long as the students are paying, they're fine.

That said, I have taught some very pleasant classes here and the nationality mix can make for an interesting experience for students and teachers.

Expect your school to mis-sell the Cambridge exams to students. I've had many students excitedly tell me they're moving 'up' to a Cambridge class and it's usually very clear from a quick chat about it that they've had the class and exams badly misrepresented to them. ESL here is not an industry with integrity. I was asked to push students hard towards the Cambridge exams in both of my jobs here, but just didn't do it as it usually wasn't appropriate.

Financially it's fine. I'm a single guy and I've been paid about $45 an hour. Working full time I've found that enough to rent a room in a nice house in a decent part of town, have a decent social life, see around the area. Not enough if you have a family or are looking to save money, but enough to just enjoy yourself for a few months.

Overall my advice to anyone considering doing ESL here would be to go for it if you're a working holiday type. Better than working in a cafe or picking fruit. You'll need to put up with a pretty low-level teaching industry with questionable practices, but you'll get paid and it will allow you to enjoy living here.

I've not taught in any other cities in Australia so can't speak for them. I'll be leaving here in a few weeks to go back to work for a previous employer. Looking forward to working for a proper school again, but Australia has been an enjoyable experience.

I have friends here who have masters degrees and Australian passports and live in other cities. They obviously have access to better jobs at universities etc.

So, basically, anyone who's considering an ESL working holiday in Sydney, that's what's going on.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^^^Nice write up, Sammy, many thanks for taking the time to scribe it.

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