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Nearly Graduated, but Seeking Advice On Future Options

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Joined: 09 Aug 2010
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:57 pm    Post subject: Nearly Graduated, but Seeking Advice On Future Options Reply with quote

Hi all,

I'm approaching the final year of my degree at a university in Sydney, and have come across a bit of a vague situation:

My degree program finishes in November next year, and I'm aiming to find full-time work. However, as we all know, the minimum requirements to legally teach ESL in Australia require a completed degree. This doesn't seem like such an issue - except that I won't actually have said degree until May the following year, when the graduation ceremony is held.

So this seems to be a bit of an impending difficulty; I will have completed the degree program, and will be yearning for full-time opportunities, yet until I have that document, it will be difficult to demonstrate it when asked "please send us a copy of your degree". Admittedly, there are degree transcripts, but will they suffice?

I have a Cert IV TESOL, 2 years full-time teaching experience in Hefei, China, and I've done 1 year part-time teaching in and around Sydney (and another next year), but one cannot survive on casual teaching income alone in Sydney.

I guess I'm trying to seek what you would do in this situation, and if there's anything you might recommend me to consider in regards to my options? I'm intending on pursuing a MA TESOL or Applied Linguistics (haven't settled on which yet) afterwards, but I'd like to build up my balance first.

Thanks in advance!
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Joined: 07 Nov 2007
Posts: 391
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't worry about not having your official degree. You can get a statement from your Uni saying you have fulfilled the requirements. That's what I did 14 years ago, and it wasn't a problem. It's very common. Ask the uni about it.

Allow me to prattle on a bit about employment prospects after you've graduated, because employment will almost certainly be casual.

With your OS and local experience and the fact that you will be on a low(er) salary step as a new graduate with a Cert IV TESOL, you will be very attractive to ELICOS colleges for full-time casual work. This would mean at least 20 teaching hours per week - sometimes more. Maybe you've already got a start in that over the past year.

Universities (MQ, Syd, UNSW etc)/TAFE will pay you a lot higher than private ELICOS colleges (they have different salary steps and unions). However, the work dries up in February and you have to go hunting again. You would mainly be teaching EAP (or migrant English at TAFE). Both are great, but have inconsistent hours. The latter has an unreasonable amount of paperwork.

Getting a Masters TESOL (I would avoid Applied Linguistics as sometimes it's not counted towards your salary step in the ELICOS sector) is not necessarily a good idea if you just want to teach. When coupled with your accumulating experience, it will put you at a higher salary level and no private college is likely to hire you once you are above say step 8, as they are all about squeezing maximum profit. Sad, but true.

For uni work, it's an excellent qualification. However, even people who have worked more than 10 years at one uni are generally not offered anything more than a 1 year contract. Permanency is rare to non-existent to anyone but academic management.

However, if you want to eventually be an Academic Manager/Curriculum developer, then maybe it's a good idea to get MA TESOL. I would get out there working first and do it p/t later. You will have no problem getting full-time casual work in Sydney if you are a half-decent teacher.

If you can stomach teaching 8 hours a day a couple of days a week (I wouldn't recommend it for a newb), then target an ELICOS college that has evening as well as day classes. That way you can do extra shifts and really boost your income. Don't forget your hourly rate will be higher once you've graduated.

There is no good money in ESL. With a bit of overtime, I get around 60K. This is with a Grad Dip and over 10 years' experience. If you have a HELP debt and Sydney rental prices to pay, it's not very lucrative. Even Academic Managers don't earn that much more than I do in most cases.

However, it's a really easy and enjoyable job after a while. I only teach 4 hrs per day and have loads of free time and great weekends. It suits me. I used to teach EAP at one of the unis mentioned above and have taught migrant English too and was an IELTS examiner for many years, but ELICOS offers the least effort in terms of prep/paperwork with the most consistent pay as the colleges are open year-round.

Good luck with the rest of your degree and your future career. Don't forget that the above is just one person's experience. I have never had much ambition, but promotions to management are definitely possible in the medium term. I am just lazy. Wink
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Joined: 09 Aug 2010
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your detailed reply Insubordination! There's a lot of valuable points and tips I hadn't thoroughly considered.

I'm not 100% certain if I'll be teaching in Aus for the long-term - being the next 5+ yrs or more - so I guess I hadn't fully pondered at length the ramifications of being somewhat limited to casual only.

With regards to the content of "what" I've been fortunate enough to teach over the last 12 months: I've dabbled in IELTS (both groups and 1-to-1), English Pronunciation classes (group) and General Conversation (also a group, albeit small). The youngest student I taught out of all those was 16 - a Russian girl in the Pronunciation class.

In regards to uni work: I do a little bit of casual work for the uni I'm attending (UTS), as a Student Ambassador which, while not necessarily a teaching/ESL role, I have assisted in leading/running workshops related to the degree content on offer at the university. Whilst it doesn't make me anymore attractive than someone with a MA TESOL, I could look at applying to teach there whilst undertaking said degree, hopefully owing to the (by then) 2 years of employment, albeit in a casual, non-academic role. I have no qualms with teaching EAP or AMEP - I feel it can be just as, if not more rewarding than other courses I've been involved in thus far.

I had been toying with the idea of pursuing an IELTS Examiner certificate as well; however, I'd imagine there's either stiff competition/rigorous standards or unimaginably complicated conditions, and thus might not be such a good idea?
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Joined: 07 Nov 2007
Posts: 391
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have so much experience already - you're in a good position. All your ideas sound fine and realistic to me - including teaching overseas. You can always come back here and get a job later.
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