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Supplementing my MA TESOL

 
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Budda



Joined: 13 Nov 2015
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:59 am    Post subject: Supplementing my MA TESOL Reply with quote

Greetings ESL Cafe,

I'm not sure if this question is more appropriately put in this General section, or the Newbie section. I apologize in advance if it needs to be moved.

I am a relatively recent graduate with my MA in TESOL from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (used to be the Monterey institute). At the moment, I have about 3 years of teaching/tutoring experience within North American higher education that I can brag about on my resume, and am searching for a full time job teaching ESL.

My top choice would be to teach at the community college level, as I have frankly been impressed with the community college system in California. I have been noticeably less impressed with the University system, and legitimately feel bad for the international students studying within ESL programs at California universities (this is a bit beside the point, of course, and I'm sure the environment varies school to school. I'd be happy to explore this point a bit more if anyone is interested).

Anyways, I've been applying like a mad man to schools (CC and university alike) for a full time ESL teaching job. I suppose I only have to play the waiting game for now, but an idea has occurred to me.

I am considering in investing further in my education, to help supplement my ESL teaching education and professional experience. Before someone brings this up, I already know that the ESL job market in North America is not doing well. I've read the other threads available on these forums, and I am painfully aware that, even with my Master's degree from a top US institution and years of experience, a full-time job might not happen.

The options I've been considering are as follows:

1.) Supplement my ESL background with an education in business and/or business law. I'm currently under the assumption that business English may lead to more numerous stable positions, and may make me a more desirable job candidate.

2.) Pursue a PhD in Educational Psychology. I've been thinking about the option for a while, but a number of family and friends have discouraged me from following this. Frankly, I enjoy the idea of researching a topic closely and becoming an expert in a field. I've spoken to the Center for Engaged Instruction at the University of California Irvine, and the office manager claimed that university learning centers (which oversee the instructional quality at the university across disciplines) are growing around the country, and my background working with international students could be quite valuable. I am opposed to a PhD in Applied Linguistics, unfortunately. I'd rather not go into why, but I suppose I'd be happy to discuss the point further if anyone asks.

3.) Retrain completely for another discipline. I love teaching, I love working with international students, and I love the freedom that the academic calendar of higher education offers me. However, my priority #1 in life is providing for my family, and I would quickly leave the ESL profession if I could more efficiently provide for my family doing something else.

4.) Maybe someone on this board can give me some good ideas on where to go? Perhaps you can direct me to a resource that I can refer to, that can help me to make an informed decision?


I deeply deeply appreciate any and all responses you can offer to me. I'm sorry about the long post, but I'm not sorry enough to do a TLDR Razz.

Thank you, and I look forward to your responses.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10494
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Budda wrote:
The options I've been considering are as follows:

Supplement my ESL background with an education in business and/or business law. I'm currently under the assumption that business English may lead to more numerous stable positions, and may make me a more desirable job candidate.

You never mentioned the intent to head overseas to work... But adding a credential or degree in business or business law may not be enough in the US and abroad; many biz English teaching positions require experience in business -- some also want a biz-related degree in addition to experience. (I've taught both biz English and legal English; however, I have legal and corporate experience.) It's not an ESP domain that's hurting for teachers in the US, and frankly, pursuing a degree in business could turn out to be a waste of your time and money.

and wrote:
Pursue a PhD in Educational Psychology. I've been thinking about the option for a while, but a number of family and friends have discouraged me from following this. Frankly, I enjoy the idea of researching a topic closely and becoming an expert in a field. I've spoken to the Center for Engaged Instruction at the University of California Irvine, and the office manager claimed that university learning centers (which oversee the instructional quality at the university across disciplines) are growing around the country, and my background working with international students could be quite valuable.

That possibly falls under degree majors like:
    International Education Mgmt. or Education Mgmt, Educational Leadership, Education Policy, Public Administration, Educational Development, Higher Education Administration, etc.
I suggest looking at a dozen or so university and community college websites to check out the academic credentials and backgrounds of administrative staff and faculty in the types of roles you're interested in to get a sense of programs you might pursue. Similarly, go to higheredjobs.com and check out job descriptions and requirements related to your desired positions.

Lastly, Budda wrote:
Retrain completely for another discipline. I love teaching, I love working with international students, and I love the freedom that the academic calendar of higher education offers me. However, my priority #1 in life is providing for my family, and I would quickly leave the ESL profession if I could more efficiently provide for my family doing something else.

If you enjoy teaching, consider the following add-ons:
/
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Budda



Joined: 13 Nov 2015
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nomad Soul, Thank you so much for your constructive and useful suggestions.

Teaching overseas is something I haven't thought of for a while, and it actually occurred to me again this morning Razz. That might actually be a viable option, as my wife is a Chinese national with my same degree, and I believe there is demand in the Chinese market for someone with my credentials.

I'll definitely look further into the academic disciplines you mentioned, and into the further certifications.

A quick question about your legal and corporate experience--do you believe that gaining legal/corporate experience would behoove someone like me, who's still young and looking to make myself more marketable in the ESL field? Which direction would you recommend someone take, in that regard?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10494
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Budda wrote:
A quick question about your legal and corporate experience--do you believe that gaining legal/corporate experience would behoove someone like me, who's still young and looking to make myself more marketable in the ESL field? Which direction would you recommend someone take, in that regard?

That was my background and education -- I'm a career changer who transitioned from years of legal/law to teaching. I've worked in the city attorney's office/municipal court as well as in positions with the district courts -- both civil and criminal. My last stint before getting my MA in Teaching and heading abroad to teach was as a contracts analyst for a major healthcare organization revamping contractual language, researching policies and legislation on health benefits, writing desktop procedures, etc. Moreover, my MAT included two courses related to curriculum design. While teaching EFL in the Mid East, I was asked to create business English and English for legal purposes courses and materials using myself as a subject matter expert (SME) and as such, I was the only person facilitating the classes. (My students were business professionals and attorneys.) That was my ESP experience -- others may have a different biz English and/or legal English teaching situation.

Is there a reason why you're interested in pursuing that path? You haven't mentioned your non-teaching background, but if you also lack the qualifications (e.g., a degree in criminal justice or public policy, a paralegal cert, juris doctorate, MBA...) for working in legal or corporate in the US, it will be a challenge to get hired in order to gain that experience. Plus, there's no guarantee you'd get a position teaching biz or legal English abroad; we often see posts from JD holders also looking to teach these ESP domains.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 990
Location: US

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:18 am    Post subject: Re: Supplementing my MA TESOL Reply with quote

For full-time college or university positions in the US (in almost any field, including ESL), you need to be flexible on location and willing to move wherever you get a job. I've known recent MA TESOL grads from places not as good as MIIS who got jobs but had to move half way across the country for a job in, e.g., Idaho.

Gaining education in business or business law could help if you earn a qualification (e.g., a certificate or a degree), but would be better if you have real-life experience in those areas, as nomad soul said. Also, business English isn't, in my experience, a particularly hot area in college/university ESL programs in the US. You'd probably be better off with something in curriculum development, ed.tech., or educational assessment (which could be part of your ed psych training).

A PhD in ed psych would allow you that chance to pursue deep knowledge of a topic, but I'd only recommend pursuing it if it's mainly for your own interests, as you wouldn't be guaranteed any better job opportunities after you graduate. That said, you might be better off posting questions about ed psych PhD job outlook on the grad student section of the Chronicle of Higher Education's fora. Whatever you do, do NOT pay for a PhD degree.

Pursuing more teaching experience abroad could also help your chances of landing a job in the US in the future. Most intensive English programs prefer people with teaching experience abroad. It would need to be college/university EAP teaching, though.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1450
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:39 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

I'd get out of TEFL.

However, if you are going to stay, I'd have a look into becoming a competency assessor. Another option might be to go down the road of soft skills training and become a consultant. Plenty of both here in the UAE earning a good crust.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10494
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ditto rtm's comments. Overseas TEFL university experience is valued for EAP positions here in the US. But don't just teach while abroad -- build your professional development by attending seminars, leading in-service teacher workshops, participating on curriculum and assessment committees, mentoring pre-service teachers, learning and incorporating new technology for teaching or learning, starting a special interest group, facilitating student extracurricular activities, and so on. These experiences will help your CV/resume stand out for positions in the US.

Additionally, if your main goal is to work in higher ed in general, focus on transferable skills and acquired knowledge that fit other areas of education and learning. That would include the experience indicated above as well as further education in fields like curriculum/instructional design, learning technologies, library science, student personnel/guidance, leadership, etc. Versatility is key.
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Budda



Joined: 13 Nov 2015
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Is there a reason why you're interested in pursuing that path?


Much as Dragonpiwo mentions:

Quote:
I'd get out of TEFL.


I'm searching, I suppose, for an exit route into something much more stable and (sorry to say) well respected. I was under the assumption that a legal/business education could lead me to a more stable career, while also possibly adding to my worth as an ESL teacher as an added bonus.

Quote:
Pursuing more teaching experience abroad could also help your chances of landing a job in the US in the future. Most intensive English programs prefer people with teaching experience abroad. It would need to be college/university EAP teaching, though.


Definitely a viable option, I'll just need to try to get the wife onboard, as she prefers to stay in the States for now for financial reasons (her job prospects are better here, while mine are ironically better in her home country).

Quote:
A PhD in ed psych would allow you that chance to pursue deep knowledge of a topic, but I'd only recommend pursuing it if it's mainly for your own interests, as you wouldn't be guaranteed any better job opportunities after you graduate. That said, you might be better off posting questions about ed psych PhD job outlook on the grad student section of the Chronicle of Higher Education's fora. Whatever you do, do NOT pay for a PhD degree.


This is excellent, A+ advice, thank you so much rtm. I've heard you've got to be pretty stupid to pay for your own PhD from others (to put it bluntly, sorry if that applies to you!).

Nomad soul, thank you for the continued good advice. I spoke to a university vice chancellor, and he told me something similar to "versatility is key" ("The road to success isn't a straight line. You've got to go out to go up.")

Correct me if I'm wrong, but ESL teaching in public middle schools is in high demand, correct? I worked for an after school program for international students briefly, and I enjoyed working with the middle school students (more than the high school students, I suppose).

Being a middle school ESL teacher might appeal to me because of the opportunities for full time employment. I was considering a business/legal route for the opportunities of upward mobility and intellectual satisfaction. I took a prelaw class once, but haven't fully explored my talent in the area.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10494
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Budda wrote:
Nomad soul, thank you for the continued good advice. I spoke to a university vice chancellor, and he told me something similar to "versatility is key" ("The road to success isn't a straight line. You've got to go out to go up.")

Correct me if I'm wrong, but ESL teaching in public middle schools is in high demand, correct? I worked for an after school program for international students briefly, and I enjoyed working with the middle school students (more than the high school students, I suppose).

Check job ads in your area and reach out to your state's dept. of education to find out what the demand is for primary and secondary ESL teachers. There are licensure requirements for teaching ESL.

and Budda wrote:
I was considering a business/legal route for the opportunities of upward mobility and intellectual satisfaction. I took a prelaw class once, but haven't fully explored my talent in the area.

Think of it this way: Business and law are subject areas, whereas TESOL is related to teaching. Adding other education-related skills and knowledge like those suggested will give you that versatility to work full time in different areas in higher ed rather than limit you to teaching a particular subject as an adjunct. Besides, a grad cert or degree in educational management/policy/leadership includes aspects of business and legal, if that's a path you want to explore.

Some options to pursue on the side to satisfy your business/legal interests...
    - Teach a US citizenship class to adult ESL students to help them prepare for the naturalization test. Contact your local nonprofit refugee/ESL literacy organizations. You'd likely be volunteering.
    - Become involved in Junior Achievement as a volunteer presenter.
    - Check with your state dept. of corrections for volunteer or paid ESL teaching or tutoring spots in the local jails. It may require an ABE or GED cert. Anyway, many of these folks need instruction that also entails critical thinking and ethics. Wink
.
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Budda



Joined: 13 Nov 2015
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:

Check job ads in your area and reach out to your state's dept. of education to find out what the demand is for primary and secondary ESL teachers. There are licensure requirements for teaching ESL.


Think of it this way: Business and law are subject areas, whereas TESOL is related to teaching. Adding other education-related skills and knowledge like those suggested will give you that versatility to work full time in different areas in higher ed rather than limit you to teaching a particular subject as an adjunct. Besides, a grad cert or degree in educational management/policy/leadership includes aspects of business and legal, if that's a path you want to explore.

Some options to pursue on the side to satisfy your business/legal interests...
    - Teach a US citizenship class to adult ESL students to help them prepare for the naturalization test. Contact your local nonprofit refugee/ESL literacy organizations. You'd likely be volunteering.
    - Become involved in Junior Achievement as a volunteer presenter.
    - Check with your state dept. of corrections for volunteer or paid ESL teaching or tutoring spots in the local jails. It may require an ABE or GED cert. Anyway, many of these folks need instruction that also entails critical thinking and ethics. Wink
.



Thank you so much again, for putting the situation in such understandable terms! I was iffy at first about posting this question to the board, but I'm really glad I did as you've all helped me to see this much clearer.

A grad cert in the above mentioned subject areas sounds totally realistic and prudent.
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