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Questions from Someone with Zero Teaching Experience
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Vegetivita



Joined: 26 May 2017
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:14 pm    Post subject: Questions from Someone with Zero Teaching Experience Reply with quote

Hi all, I only discovered I have a passion for teaching about 1 year ago and I'm itching to begin as soon as possible for various reasons. As a result, I intend to move to my country of choice (Vietnam) early next year without a bachelor's degree in teaching and attend a TEFL class in Ho Chi Minh City. However, I am a high school dropout (though I have earned my GED), with no teaching experience whatsoever. Am I making a huge mistake?

Here are two major skills I should have but don't:
-I have a difficult time identifying nouns/verbs in complex sentences.
-I tutor some native Vietnamese friends through Skype and they have a tendency to leave out the words "a" or "the" (ex: "I went to store" should be "I went to the store"). I can tell them the correct way but I don't know how to explain it to them.

I'm actively seeking an English tutor to help me learn the above things before I move to Vietnam, but I'm curious what everyone's opinion of my situation is. Given my gaps of knowledge in the above paragraph, how likely is it that I could fail the TEFL course? Am I a fool for planning to move abroad with zero experience? Is it a mistake to plan on getting my TEFL certificate abroad, rather than in my home country?

I would appreciate any and all advice; thanks in advance.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10829
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You really should post your questions on the Vietnam forum.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11420
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you're brave, for sure!

Concrete info: identifying nouns and verbs is extremely basic.
Nouns name things (a post, a pen, a forum) and verbs name actions (to write, to contribute). Nouns can be one or many and have plural forms (posts, pens, fora). Verbs indicate tenses (past, present, future, ++ wrote, contributed ).

Articles (a, an, the) are not basic. Native speakers pick these up through early language learning (by developing the relevant intuition) but correct article use is one of the highest level skills for non-native English speakers, and, in most cases, is one of the last things they come close to perfecting. Consider this sentence, which I heard from a 3-year-old the other evening: "Look, daddy, the dog has a light!" When you think about the complex choices required in 'the' and 'a' in this seemingly simple sentence, you can see why non-native speakers would struggle.

In terms of a career in EFL or ESL, without a BA degree, your options are extremely limited. There is quite a lot of competition for jobs these days in almost every job market, except maybe some very rural locations, and employers can afford to check the boxes in terms of academic qualifications when the other candidates pretty much all have them. That's not to mention many regions of the world where you cannot legally get a visa to teach without the degree.

If you're really serious, the best scenario is to get a degree; otherwise you will forever be stuck at the very bottom of the barrel with dodgy employers, unless you get very, very lucky.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15080
Location: Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

English has articles. Some language do not. Articles are - "a", "an" "the"

Have you ever learned a foreign language ? Learning a foreign language is often a good way of getting insight into how the grammar of your own language works. Another route is to make a formal study of Grammar through PARSING, analysing sentences in their basic units.

Other advice is get a college degree.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10829
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since Vietnam is your target for both your TEFL training and teaching jobs, you especially need to find out if you qualify for legal employment.
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 727

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum, Vegetivita!

Two things:

First is that Vietnam requires a B.A. for a work permit to teach legally. If you read the Vietnam subforum you will see that a lot of schools do hire a lot of teachers without work permits. BUT, you should be aware that you would be working illegally if you follow this route, and that you would not have access to the better jobs or employers. I can't give further advice, because I have not worked in Vietnam, but do your homework--starting with a thorough reading of the Vietnam subforum.

Second, and easier to answer: grammar is the part of TEFL knowledge that most lends itself to online learning, or self-instruction (cracking the books!) If you have average intelligence and a reasonable command of the language, you can learn everything about grammar--well, not everything, but certainly as much as you need to start. There are a number of grammar courses online to choose from. For example, here is Ontesol's 65-hr grammar module which can be taken on its own. I like it because it is one of the few tutored online courses, which makes it much more useful and helpful. Having a real live human tutor adds greatly to the experience in my opinion.

https://ontesol.com/celta-certification-course-grammar/

Bridge offers their own self-taught course for about the same price. There are MANY others out there; these are just two reputable providers that I know of. Whether you take an online course, or buy a few good textbooks, this is an easily solved problem. (The lack of a degree is a much bigger hurdle.)

Again, welcome!

.
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santi84



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

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no legal work in Vietnam if you don't have a university degree (assuming you don't qualify for any other visa).

Are you making a huge mistake? Well, I think you can set yourself up for success by considering a better long-term strategy. Explaining nouns, verbs, and articles (a/the) are so basic that you will likely be overwhelmed when it comes to the gritty stuff (mood, aspect, IPA).

I really recommend you consider a college degree, or at the very least, consider entry-level linguistics/TESL courses at a university (along with volunteering in local ESL classes, an extra conversation practice partner is usually a welcome sight!). You could try and take a CELTA (which is a common TEFL course) but your lack of grammar knowledge will probably not get you in. "TEFL" is a generic term for a course that may or may not pass you, I have no idea if you would pass or not.

I understand you have the itch to teach (and that's fine), but if you can't teach the basics, I'm not sure how you intend to keep any job you get. Students will not be pleased if you can't explain elementary concepts. Think long-range and go for it if you think it's the path you want!

I agree with Scot about learning another language and also Scrivener's Teaching English Grammar.

Good luck!
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 727

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ditto Santi's idea about finding some volunteer ESL work. This is an excellent suggestion. Before you start investing in flights and TEFL courses and moving to the other side of the world, get some local experience to be sure its for you. I don't know where you are located, but there are many community-based programs for ESL learners that will accept and often train volunteer teachers. Most start off by having you observe and then assist an experienced teacher.

.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10829
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Assuming you're American (or Canadian), contact your local community college and ask about classes that focus on basic English. That will help you develop English skills and boost your confidence. But better still... you can always start with an Associate's degree via a community college and then transfer to a BA program, if you're willing to commit to getting a degree.
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sigmoid



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, first of all, you should read through the threads on this Vietnam forum.

Quote:
I tutor some native Vietnamese friends through Skype


Are these friends in Vietnam? If so, that's a big advantage in terms of living there.

As for grammar, no one can dismiss its importance for English teachers but actually, you almost never teach grammar. Local teachers explain grammar; foreign teachers model pronunciation and correct mistakes in order to build good habits and confidence. All the grammar you need to know is on the internet. Study it there.

In my opinion, there's a heck of lot of demand for native speakers throughout Vietnam. Most of it is teaching kids, usually with a TA (teaching assistant), how to say things like "This is a pen" and whatnot, not the forms of the verb 'be' or the use of present simple tense. They will repeat and see a picture of a pen or a real pen. Most likely, after that, you will follow up with something like "That is a chair", with the chair being located a suitable distance away from you, etc.

In other words, you will get some work, most of which in VN is freelance, part-time, temporary and paid hourly. Search for "Vietnam teaching jobs" and you will see some of the details in the ads.

As others have pointed out, education/training is always a good idea, to give you more options and self-confidence.


Quote:
Is it a mistake to plan on getting my TEFL certificate abroad, rather than in my home country?


No, it isn't. Many people do that.

Anyway, thoroughly research and network online. I'm still in touch with a number of teachers I met through this forum and later in real-life, who helped me out when moving to a new country.
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Vegetivita



Joined: 26 May 2017
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the quick replies and great information!

Quote:
Vietnam requires a B.A. for a work permit to teach legally.

I was not aware of that. Suddenly I am much less confident about going without a degree.

In addition to having no teaching experience, I also have no traveling experience so I don't fully understand visas/work permits. As a non-Vietnamese citizen, I would have to return to my home country (U.S.) once my travel visa expired, correct? But if I had a valid work permit, I could remain there indefinitely?

I took a peek back a few pages on the forum to see if I could find threads regarding teaching without a work permit, but I couldn't find anything within the past ~2 years and anything further back may be outdated. Can anyone give me information on what that's like? Obviously the jobs will be from less reputable sources but in what situation would I be "caught" and sent back to the U.S.?

I'm just looking for any reason to come there as soon as possible.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11420
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vegetivita wrote:
Thanks for all the quick replies and great information!

Quote:
Vietnam requires a B.A. for a work permit to teach legally.

I was not aware of that. Suddenly I am much less confident about going without a degree.

In addition to having no teaching experience, I also have no traveling experience so I don't fully understand visas/work permits. As a non-Vietnamese citizen, I would have to return to my home country (U.S.) once my travel visa expired, correct? But if I had a valid work permit, I could remain there indefinitely?

I took a peek back a few pages on the forum to see if I could find threads regarding teaching without a work permit, but I couldn't find anything within the past ~2 years and anything further back may be outdated. Can anyone give me information on what that's like? Obviously the jobs will be from less reputable sources but in what situation would I be "caught" and sent back to the U.S.?

I'm just looking for any reason to come there as soon as possible.


No, don't try to do it without legal status. That's far too risky - a little bad luck can very quickly turn disastrous if you are in a country illegally. You're American; consider what's going on with illegal immigrants there - it could be much much worse in a developing country like Vietnam. It's not just that they could send you back to the US - you could land in jail or detention or heaven knows what.
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sigmoid



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As a non-Vietnamese citizen, I would have to return to my home country (U.S.) once my travel visa expired, correct? But if I had a valid work permit, I could remain there indefinitely?


When your visa expires you can inquire about getting an extension. If an extension is not possible, you do a visa run, take a trip to another country, usually a neighboring one, and re-enter on a new visa.

The work permit has a visa associated with it that is valid for the duration of your contract of one or two years.


Quote:
Obviously the jobs will be from less reputable sources but in what situation would I be "caught" and sent back to the U.S.?


As already stated above: "freelance, part-time, temporary and paid hourly".

Usually, schools ask for a demo lesson. If you pass the demo, they will offer you an hourly rate and a schedule of classes. You show up and teach and then based on a record of classes taught you get paid in cash at some point in the next month. Often you may teach at several schools if your first school doesn't give you enough classes or you find another school that pays more or has better resources. You may have some private students, possibly from Japan or Korea. I was just tutoring a young woman from Spain who had been sent by her company to work here for 6 months, for example.

The main risk is not getting "caught" but not having any legal recourse if cheated (underpaid/not paid) by a school. You're not in the country "illegally" as long as you hold a valid visa.

Quote:

I'm just looking for any reason to come there as soon as possible.


Well, you said you have Vietnamese friends and are planning to do TEFL cert (something you should do). These seem like reasons. Ultimately, if you have the financial resources, you can just come as a tourist and check things out. There'a plenty of cheap accommodation and food.

Anyway, if you do start teaching and don't like it, just head back.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 469

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No degree will limit your progress but not impede your getting a foot in the door.

TBH a degree in Biology or even English literature will NOT help you teach EFL any better. It is just a hurdle we have to clear to get a WP.

But the biggest issue with WP is employers won't do their side. They prefer to exploit the supply of wide eyed newbies.

In fairness the newbies exploit the employers too, and the only losers are the students.

Any fool can find work teaching in the larger cities here. If you are willing to take what is on offer and can be presentable at interview.

There is work but it may not be well paid or very satisfying. A few months living in cheap hotels and eating street food while 'teaching' a few hours a week can be fun but a few years not so much.

Generally if you have a reasonable career path open to you at home I advise people to pursue that. And just visit South East Asia for holidays.

Say you spend 2-3 years here than want to go back? How impressed do you think prospective employers will be?

But if you don't have good job options at home or just can't stand the humdrum life any more by all means go for it. Just don't say you weren't warned....
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GHL



Joined: 16 Jul 2017
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's no such thing as a reasonable career path 'back home'. Because that would involve living 'back home'.

Rather earn peanuts in SEA than have the big house, white fence, and 2 cars on the driveway back home.
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