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Is TEFL getting better or worse as a career?
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 584
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
spanglish wrote:
I was thinking more of Colombia ... In the past, somebody with a CELTA, degree and a year of experience could jump into a very well paid, very senior position. Now, you would need 10-20 years experience (most of it in-country), a relevant masters degree and a lot of luck for such a position. Though Colombia is a unique case, I wonder if other countries have seen a greater influx foreigners, which has contributed to driving down wages and benefits.


What you are calling 'driving down wages' sounds a lot like 'driving up standards' or at least expectations. Is that such a bad thing? Would anyone argue that a barely-off-the-boat newbie should be able to walk into a senior position?

In the past you could go into work straight from school and climb up through the ranks in almost any field in the UK. Now it's virtually impossible without a degree, often any degree. At least in the example you give they are asking for relevant study and experience. For a senior position, I can only see the positives there.


I think it's both.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12166
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We were the fortunate generation. It is hard to be an optimist in the current economic and financial climate.
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

santi84 wrote:
For any Canadians who have been away from home for a while, there is some serious debate here in Quebec about making all public schools bilingual 50/50 immersion for the year (rather than required ESL courses), so the demand for ESL-qualified public teachers in Quebec is going to skyrocket in the near future. It's not 100% but it is almost certainly going to happen soon!

Quebec is an oddball of TESL/TEFL (being ESL, not EFL, in an English-dominant country) ... and an oddball with many things in general, but the future of TESL here is actually improving with the demand of young francophones wanting and needing advanced English skills.

Interesting, but I'd assume that to teach in Quebec you'd need some kind of Canadian or Quebecois teaching certification, which makes it less a "TESL" thing and more a "hiring more public school teachers" thing.

Though it's rather a pity that my Canadien ancestors wandered south of the border sometime in the middle of the 19th century. Between this and your natural resources boom, now looks like a good time to be a Canadian. (Of course I suppose if my progenitors hadn't left Quebec, I wouldn't be a native English speaker. C'est la vie.)

~Q
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
We were the fortunate generation. It is hard to be an optimist in the current economic and financial climate.

Sez u.

Really, I'm quite optimistic. Emerging markets and technologies are opening up all the time, and I know a few peers who are getting into those (the technologies mostly), as well as more established fields like computer science (and doesn't it sound strange to consider CS an "established field," doesn't it?) that I'm not particularly worried about my own possibilities when I get out of TEFL.

As for TEFL itself; the field seems to be professionalizing, with more and more genuinely good positions (especially outside the Sinosphere) requiring an MA TESOL or above. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends partly on whether you're interested in TESOL as a gig or a career, and partly on whether you consider an MA TESOL to be more than two years of your life and a piece of paper that signals to potential employers you're in it for the long haul.

~Q
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 854
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Qaaolchoura wrote:
santi84 wrote:
For any Canadians who have been away from home for a while, there is some serious debate here in Quebec about making all public schools bilingual 50/50 immersion for the year (rather than required ESL courses), so the demand for ESL-qualified public teachers in Quebec is going to skyrocket in the near future. It's not 100% but it is almost certainly going to happen soon!

Quebec is an oddball of TESL/TEFL (being ESL, not EFL, in an English-dominant country) ... and an oddball with many things in general, but the future of TESL here is actually improving with the demand of young francophones wanting and needing advanced English skills.


Interesting, but I'd assume that to teach in Quebec you'd need some kind of Canadian or Quebecois teaching certification, which makes it less a "TESL" thing and more a "hiring more public school teachers" thing.

Though it's rather a pity that my Canadien ancestors wandered south of the border sometime in the middle of the 19th century. Between this and your natural resources boom, now looks like a good time to be a Canadian. (Of course I suppose if my progenitors hadn't left Quebec, I wouldn't be a native English speaker. C'est la vie.)

~Q


Yes and no. In the Montreal/Quebec City region then yes, you absolutely need your public teacher certification (which can be transferred from other provinces) but in other places such as the north or outlying regions of the province (Sept-Iles, Rimouski, Gaspe), fluent English speakers are more difficult to come by and Anglophones can often get a job in the district without certification (provided they will work towards upgrading qualifications), if there is a demonstrated need.

But hey, my husband is a native French speaker but can speak/read/write better than most people back in my hometown in British Columbia. Maybe you'd be amazing at both?
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 926
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spanglish wrote:
As Colombia has gradually opened up more to the world and more foreigners have arrived there, pay and benefits have come down quite a lot in the last 20 years.


My guess is that as the EFL market of an emerging economy shifts over time from a small elite segment (highest incomes) to a much larger and lower-income middle class segment, the compensation largely reflects that change. There are other factors of course: for one, ELT is still not recognized by the public as a profession. In addition, universities won't tell students--the more degrees they grant, the less they're worth, regardless of tuition--it's also simple supply/demand economics. So when scot47 says "Worse, much worse...", part of that is the decline of real income in many semi-professional careers over the decades.

spanglish wrote:
In terms of technology, this is just a guess (I'm not talking about online classes). Access to a native speaker is much easier through social media than before, a good thing, but makes me wonder if it's also contributing to a downgrade in pay/benefits for our profession.


Are you suggesting online language exchange is having a significant impact on more traditional forms of face-to-face language learning?
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tttompatz



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

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LongShiKong wrote:

spanglish wrote:
In terms of technology, this is just a guess (I'm not talking about online classes). Access to a native speaker is much easier through social media than before, a good thing, but makes me wonder if it's also contributing to a downgrade in pay/benefits for our profession.


Are you suggesting online language exchange is having a significant impact on more traditional forms of face-to-face language learning?


I would suggest that it is more a mainstreaming of EFL into regular schools combined with additional opportunities for language acquisition (as compared to language teaching/learning) outside of the formal educational settings (schools or language centers) through multiple forms of media (movies, social networks, GAMES, etc).

And while opportunities for back-packers to take a 30-day course and be a "well paid" "ESL/EFL teacher" are fast disappearing, the number of jobs for EFL Teachers (or perhaps more properly, "native English speaking teachers") with more formalized credentials is continuing to grow and remuneration packages are still, on the whole (in many places), pretty decent.

.
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tttompatz wrote:

I would suggest that it is more a mainstreaming of EFL into regular schools combined with additional opportunities for language acquisition (as compared to language teaching/learning) outside of the formal educational settings (schools or language centers) through multiple forms of media (movies, social networks, GAMES, etc).

And while opportunities for back-packers to take a 30-day course and be a "well paid" "ESL/EFL teacher" are fast disappearing, the number of jobs for EFL Teachers (or perhaps more properly, "native English speaking teachers") with more formalized credentials is continuing to grow and remuneration packages are still, on the whole (in many places), pretty decent.

Bingo.
In Turkey, for example, the jobs I see advertized with the best pay/hours/benefits arrangement are either A. at new, private, unis, usually requiring MAs and/or a great deal of experience or B. primary and secondary schools requiring a degree in education plus home-country or British public school teaching credentials.

These jobs usually pay about twice as much as the jobs your standard minimally-qualified TEFLer can get, and it's seeing them that's made me realize that in the long term choice is "go all in or get out (of Turkey, TESOL, or both)."

My decision is to get out (in a year or two), because if I'm choosing between doing an MA TESOL or doing an MA in something like computer science or engineering, the latter is more appealing to me, personally, as a lifetime career choice.

~Q
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1212

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
We were the fortunate generation. It is hard to be an optimist in the current economic and financial climate.


I think this is probably the case with all professions - not just ELT.

You get the great early days when there are few suppliers for the demand (at least in new industries like ELT in the 1960s - 1980s) and the world is your oyster. Then in the 1980s, having an MA would open the doors. Since then, we've seen generation upon generation becoming more "educated", and more young people wanting to go abroad. Consequently, many more suppliers for the demand. Excepting places like China, which tttompatz mentions as being particularly interesting for teachers.

I'm not griping - far from it. But I think what we're seeing is an inevitable maturing of the profession / industry. What counts is quals, education and skills (and rightly so). That's why I disagree with Scot47. You can be an optimist. In fact, you have to believe in your marketability. But you have to be realist at the same time. Great jobs will not fall into your lap. You have to work at them like you would for any other type of job.

In the years that I've been reading and contributing on Dave's, one theme has become more and more important. ELT is a great industry to be in. There are fabulous opportunities, that are only going to become more fabulous over time. It's a great lifestyle to have, with personally rewarding and stimulating experiences that enhance your life and your outlook. But to make the most of these, you must:

- get qualified
- build experience
- be in for the long haul
- be open to new ways of doing things
- network

You know, like any other career in any other sector.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1116
Location: 1748'N 9746'W

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is still growing in Mexico--especially in the teaching children side of the market. The economic down turn means those who are just hanging on to their position in the "haves" panic to make their kids more competitive.
From the outside of the language istitute side of things, it seems like that side hasn't gotten any better in terms of wages.
The university side of things is growing too and some are contract hour semester by semester type jobs, but others are full time with benefits.
Mexico has just reformed it's immigration laws and while we are still waiting to see how it all plays out, it looks as if it just became a lot easier to become a permanet resident if you have the right qualifications for this field. (By that I mean an MA, possibly K-12 certification, post grad cert in education, that sort of thing.)
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 926
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Qaaolchoura wrote:

...if I'm choosing between doing an MA TESOL or doing an MA in something like computer science or engineering, the latter is more appealing..


Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems Turkey and the entire M.E. is still in that first phase of an emerging economy I described above---elites merely interested in hiring those with similar levels of professional education. But in ELT that translates to a more theoretical grounding (M.A. TESOL) than its practical application (C/DELTA).*

Last year, a colleague in Beijing with a CELTA took a month off to get a DELTA. On returning, she resigned and headed for Turkey. Would she be overlooked in favor of those with an MA TESOL (even without experience)?
-----
* I'm basing this claim entirely on what others have written on another thread comparing these 2 quals.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9378
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But in ELT that translates to a more theoretical grounding (M.A. TESOL) than its practical application (C/DELTA).*



I think this is largely not the case. All the (quite a few) teachers I know personally with related MA also have CELTA or equivalent, and I can think of at least a dozen offhand with the whole package (CELTA, DELTA, related MA).

That's from personal experience, so maybe not widely applicable, but I think it would be illogical for someone to go for a relatiavely expensive MA without starting out at least with a CELTA or equivalent. Further, I doubt that too many reputable MA programmes accept someone with zero training in the field prior to the postgrad study.
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear good things about certain parts of Asia. I'll be heading to either Japan, South Korea, or China in the spring so I will let you know.
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bulgogiboy



Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 787

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The money in China is definitely getting much, much better, but I'd say that's one of the exceptions to the general stagnation in TEFL salaries. I'm looking at jobs in countries where I worked 5-10 years ago, and the salaries haven't budged one cent.

I think there's one way to test how the TEFL job market is standing just now. Go on to the job section of this website, or any of the TEFL job sites, scroll down the jobs, and count how many of those jobs would provide a living wage/benefits (rather than just a subsistence wage) for a single person. Now scroll through them again and count how many would provide a living wage/benefits for a sole-breadwinner with a family. Now scroll through them AGAIN, and count how many of those living-wage jobs are NOT in hell holes like Saudi Arabia.

I think you'll find there are not that many TEFL jobs where you can earn a respectable salary, and still have money left over for savings/future investments. If you exclude jobs where many people find the living environment/culture intolerable (such as Saudi) then the number drops even more dramatically.

And I'm not saying that there aren't decent TEFL jobs out there, as I actually have one myself, I'm just saying in the past 10 years I've been doing TEFL I've seen very little increase in TEFL wages, generally speaking. For example, Libya went through a civil war, and is still very insecure and politically unstable, but the same shameful salaries are still being offered to TEFLers, and bear in mind Libya is generally considered to be one of the better places for teaching, in terms of salary! I do also recall, not so long ago, there was a job in Iraq offering something like $30 per day danger money. Now there's an incentive!


Laughing
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
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Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So both Polyanna and Dr Pangloss are alive and well and working in EFL ! Or maybe they are just recruiters or contractors ?
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