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How difficult/legal is casual teaching for qualified

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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 41
Location: Texas USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:13 am    Post subject: How difficult/legal is casual teaching for qualified Reply with quote

I am a 26 year old woman, 2 years teaching ESL in US public school system. I'm also certified in biology and English literature. I have an M.Ed in TESL and a TESOL certificate. Total gŁera if that's relevant.

I am starting to plan for next year summer/fall 2013 to go to South America. I will have 3 years ESL experience in US public high schools by then.

My goals for being in South America:

1. To become conversationally fluent in Spanish. I've studied in Guatemala before but forgot most of my Spanish. I want to just buckle down for a couple of months and GET IT DOWN.

2. To get some travel bug out of my system before I get married and start a family. (My boyfriend is not coming along, he is staying home because of his career) Spending time in South America is something I feel I have to do before I settle down, and we decided that me leaving in 2013 would be the plan.

3. Not to make a profit or even break even but just supplement some travel/living abroad money.

4. Dance lessons! Make new friends! Travel! Have fun!

Some concerns:

1. We will be traveling between the US and South America so a base in Peru/Colombia/Venezuela/Ecuador etc is probably preferable to Chile/Argentina

2. I want to be flexible. I don't think it would be difficult for me to get a decent job in South America, but I want more freedom at the expense of less pay- I want to be free to come back home for a full month for Thanksgiving-New Years and then go back (maybe even to a different country?) for a couple more months.

3. I will have to quit my current public school position and it's possible they could hire me back the year after I return, but then again maybe they won't, so I need to keep my US career in mind and keep that resume looking good. I think taking a year off to learn Spanish would make me look marketable, but some employers could think it was flaky.

4. This might sound silly but I love hot yoga. I would prefer to be in a city that has a hot yoga studio (I imagine that's only major cities?).

So I am trying to balance TESL with learning Spanish and travel. I understand that teaching English is not the greatest way to learn Spanish. However, TESL is my profession and I would prefer something with relevant experience during that time on my resume. Part time is fine (probably preferable to full-time)

I would like to add in some private tutoring for the $ and experience but I know it's not the best thing for the resume.

I feel like my options are:

1) backpack through South America and find very temporary (couple of weeks at a time) work as an English teacher.

How realistic is this? I know the money wouldn't be great, I'm not looking to get rich here or even break even. The pros would be that I could see a lot, but the cons would be the following year having potential employers ask what the heck I did 2013-2014

2) Pick 1 location, get an apartment, find part-time work and fill up the rest of my time with learning Spanish, traveling around, yoga and other hobbies, then quit job and go home for month. Relocate to different location or come back to same and repeat

3) get a real job, quit early if I have to

I guess in my mind it would be easy to get a job (not a great job, just something) as an English teacher even if I was just passing through. I have no idea how accurate this view is in these troubled economic times. Are jobs as easy-come-easy-go as I assume? What about work visas?

Sorry this thread is all over the place, but any input or guidance would be much appreciated!

Thank you[/u]
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Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1199
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you need to decide whether you are looking for a holiday or looking for work. It's highly unlikely that you will pick up work for a couple of weeks as you pass through. I can't even imagine the sort of situation where you think that might happen.

Private students are certainly an option, but it takes time to find them, and they will be looking for continuity too. I can't see you getting many takers if you are only offering classes for a couple of weeks.

IMHO there are many places in Latin America where you could land a good position with your credentials. University work would probably suit you. It's typically part time, higher hourly pay than language schools but lower hours over all, and no work or pay during the holidays. But that might suit you as you would have plenty of free time in the week for hobbies, and then long holidays in which to travel. It would also look good on your CV. You might get a position for one semester, but most places will want you to commit for the year.

As you said, teaching English is not the best way to learn a language, but it is possible. You need a lot of self discipline, and make a real effort to get involved with local community, particularly in terms of accommodation. Again, it will be hard to make those connections if you are moving frequently.

I'd suggest you think it through carefully and decide what you really want out of this trip, and then post again when you have a clearer idea of your aim.
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