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Does Your Degree Matter?
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joelackey92



Joined: 28 Feb 2012
Posts: 15
Location: Arkansas, y'all.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:21 pm    Post subject: Does Your Degree Matter? Reply with quote

I'm familiar with the fact that the majority of employers at English schools overseas are looking to hire individuals with a college degree. Assuming both are TEFL certified with no prior teaching experience, would an applicant with a degree in history have an advantage over the applicant with a degree in engineering?
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 852
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would imagine that employers who hire teachers with minimum TEFL certification/no experience/non-related degrees are just looking to fulfill visa requirements - so no, I doubt that there would be a preference over a history or engineering degree. I suppose some employers may feel that someone with a history degree has better language knowledge than someone with an engineering degree (stereotypical assumption) but I don't personally see how that translates to teaching ESL/EFL.
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Sirens of Cyprus



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 218

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some ministries or schools won't accept degrees that are not directly related to teaching ESL. Sadly, some will accept, or even prefer, any degree with the word "education" in it, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with ESL. Moreover, in spite of all the lip service paid to content-based-instruction, having a degree in a really hard subject like engineering, or any other subject besides English, ESL, or applied linguistics will not be a feather in your cap, but will more likely be held against you as proof that you can't make up your mind what you want to do.

What really should matter is whether you know English. Quickie certifications, and even MA programs in ESL can teach you the general idea of how to teach ESL, but they can't teach you English. A BA in English should be mandatory.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

History over engineering? By that logic, a social studies degree would trump one in microbiology, a psychology major tops an IT grad, and a political science major would have a better chance than a chemistry major.

It doesn't matter. If employers accept a history degree (and if it's enough to get you a work visa), then what matters is all the other stuff on your resume and in your background, plus your personality and chemistry to interact with staff and students.
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joelackey92



Joined: 28 Feb 2012
Posts: 15
Location: Arkansas, y'all.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you guys for the responses. Most of these companies on this site are looking for teachers who have received a degree, but I was just curious as to which degree in particular would have an influence on their decision to hire you.

History and engineering, Glenki, were just two subjects that I wanted to use as an example because of the differences between the two.
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Does Your Degree Matter? Reply with quote

joelackey92 wrote:
I'm familiar with the fact that the majority of employers at English schools overseas are looking to hire individuals with a college degree. Assuming both are TEFL certified with no prior teaching experience, would an applicant with a degree in history have an advantage over the applicant with a degree in engineering?


In ASIA, overall, it doesn't matter.

The degree is an immigration requirement for the visa/work permits, etc. and not an employer issue.

Not so long ago, before the degree became a visa requirement the average employer would take anyone who spoke English and had a pulse with a strong preference for a Caucasian face.

By and large, language academies just want the white face and anglophone passport to show to the moms.

If you are talking about getting into mainstream (K-12) schools then it is country specific. You are OK for Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam. You are not OK for Taiwan, Hong Kong (teacher license needed for k-12) or Indonesia (English degree needed). Others vary by country.

.
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thatsforsure



Joined: 11 Sep 2012
Posts: 123

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

to be honest degrees dont really matter .. i graduated five years ago and ive don well but you dont need it ,. some jobs require this or that degree such as international school or middle east but really those jobs isnt all there cracked up to be. i do internet activity , very happy .
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Sirens of Cyprus



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 218

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See what I mean? A BA in English should be mandatory. What a sad state the profession is in!
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 852
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be fair, a BA in English can be anything from coursework on technical writing to dissecting Chaucer Laughing (I've done both)

Here in Quebec, anything less than a BEd in TESL or MA TESOL is not really accepted. Hell, I have a BGS in TESL (that's Bachelor of General Studies!) and employers are still demanding more upgrading. It really just depends on where you want to go.
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thatsforsure



Joined: 11 Sep 2012
Posts: 123

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

they can demand any thing they want, but how much are they willing to pay? in my experience they want the sun moon and stars, but pay peanuts. my advice is find other work. teach esl if you need to for a visa in a country you like , but make your money from net hustlin .... earning on the web through writing, ads, setting up sites or wherever your talents is
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1207

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but make your money from net hustlin .... earning on the web through writing


(spelling and punctuation presumably an option??)

Thatsforsure, I broadly agree with you btw!

Choice of degree can make a difference further down the line. If you've got a background in something technical, it can give you wider options. Hod sometimes posts here and I think he's an engineer. Others find that their degree will help them with ESP or corporate training. You might also end up being able to do more lucrative translation work, for example.

Conversely, if you don't have an English degree, you might find it difficult to be accepted as a Cambridge oral examiner - not that this should be a reason not to study something you enjoy! (My degree is in French, but somehow that went unnoticed. Perhaps they were short of examiners that year.)
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3624
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teacher in Rome wrote:
Choice of degree can make a difference further down the line. If you've got a background in something technical, it can give you wider options. Hod sometimes posts here and I think he's an engineer. Others find that their degree will help them with ESP or corporate training. You might also end up being able to do more lucrative translation work, for example.

So true, Teacher in Rome. This topic ties into the general forum threads What do you look for in a BA or MA degree program? and Careers after teaching abroad. Having a BA in a non-TEFL field isn't an issue for most teaching jobs, especially if a degree---any degree---is needed to specifically satisfy visa requirements. Yet, how many teachers got into TEFL solely because that degree couldn't get them a job in their home country? How beneficial will that degree be in obtaining employment post-TEFL?

Just some (reality) food for thought---a reminder that it's always a smart idea to continually research job trends and plan for one's career beyond the next 3-5 years. And that could entail going back to university for an upgrade or addition to one's academic credentials.
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VietCanada



Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 262

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some random thoughts I have on this topic.

If one has what it takes to earn a bachelors then one should be able to figure out how to teach one's native language up to a point. I think many employers understand this.

One should have a degree above that which one's students are after.

More specialized teaching requires better qualification. Sometimes an employer must make due and will if the candidate impresses. I have a math degree. I've taught math yet the courses I took are not particularly relevant to the math I've taught. I've learned it and retain memories of how I learned it.

I don't think any degree has an immediate advantage over any other aside from the obvious assumption that a BEd. specializing in teaching EFL with teaching experience should mean a better outcome for students.

I've met people with many different degrees teaching abroad and just socially back home. They all have their own advantages. I would think engineers and historians would both be quite capable of teaching EFL or ESL at the level most often sought after by employers. I see no absolute advantage to either degree.

Qualifications aren't the only thing experienced employers can look at. Is the candidate engaging, can they manage the room and lead, are they motivated to do the job.

Just some random thoughts.

So no the degree shouldn't matter depending on what level is being taught. Most of us should be quite capable of teaching EFL/ESL but a math major probably doesn't teach literature in a true international school. An engineer probably could teach math quite well in high school.

TEFL certs etc are only useful in those countries that require them legally. Other countries aren't looking for those specific methodologies.

OTOH I would advise anyone who hasn't done this before to take a TEFL like course with actual teaching practice and observation to be sure that they would like the job. But then that is only half the job. Living and surviving in another culture is a different story altogether. You can't do that? You can't do this job no matter how many creds you've accumulated.
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fractal75



Joined: 26 Oct 2012
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sirens of Cyprus wrote:
See what I mean? A BA in English should be mandatory. What a sad state the profession is in!


A BA in any subject does not signify that you can teach it whatsoever.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12100
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We can often infer that one who possesses a BA has achieved a certain level of literacy.
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