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Best Opportunities for Americans?
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kellysh



Joined: 15 Sep 2011
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:37 am    Post subject: Best Opportunities for Americans? Reply with quote

I know this has been asked 1,000 times, but as I've been reading posts for an hour and my curiosity hasn't been satiated, here we go...

I'm an American, will graduate in May 2013 with a BA in English Lit. I'm looking into TEFL courses, but from what I gather, it's best to take the course in the country where you will be teaching, and that's the part I need help with! I am most interested in Europe, but I understand that's going to be very difficult without an EU passport. I lived in Malaysia for a few years as a teen, so Southeast Asia holds some appeal, but I'm worried I won't make enough money there. I will graduate with around $15,000 in student debt, but no other expenses. I can live a pretty bare-bones lifestyle, but I will need a job that will allow me to at least make minimum payments on those student loans.

Considering all that, are my options better in Eastern Europe or Korea/China? Eastern Europe is better for me, geographically, as it's cheaper to make trips home when needed, and I have a lot of friends scattered throughout the EU, and it would be nice to visit them every now and then. However, I understand that it's easier to get a job with better pay in Asia, and I might even get airfare and/or accommodations picked up by the school.

To sum up:

1. Should I get my TEFL cert here in the States, or do a course overseas?
2. What's the best place for a newbie to start, and what are the realistic options for moving around a bit once I have some money saved up?
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tttompatz



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

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2) Go to Korea for a year. Pay off your debt then feel free to travel as you wish.

The year under your belt and no loans left to worry about mean all of Asia is open to you to explore or if you were only interested in a gap year or 3, bank some money and head home again.

Go register on the Korean forums for more discussion on/about Korea.
http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/index.php

Otherwise, your life will be pretty tight as you get established.
Korea offers housing, prepaid airfare and minimal start-up expenses as well as the ability to pay off your debt quickly.

Elsewhere in Asia means you have to worry about your airfare and setup costs and depending on where you want to head to those can run from $3000-5000. Salaries also tend to be lower in most of SE Asia for entry level jobs (~$1200)

China or Eastern Europe may be another acceptable option for a fresh grad.

1) There are pros and cons to both.
They tend to be cheaper abroad.
They tend give you opportunities to network in the country you will be working in before you start your job search.

Doing it at home may have advantages like being able to live at home while you deal with taking the course.

.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9498
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Central Europe is a legal option, as is Germany, but you will not be able to make payments on your student loans. There are start-up costs to consider; jobs in this region aren't found from abroad and you will need to plan to come over (preferably at the end of August for peak hiring season in September - remember you will have just 90 days on a tourist basis to land a job and get working papers underway, so not advisable to come in the summer holidays when the employers are away).
You'll also need a CELTA or equivalent cert; one way to bridge into this region is to take a course in the country/city where you want to start your job search.

Eastern Europe is a bit different, and I think others will be along soon to fill you in more about that - alternatively, you can post on the Russia forum.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the idea of getting the qualification (can be CELTA, can be Trinity Cert) in the country where you want to work is over-played, although I suppose if it is the same city, then it would make some sense. For the purpose of getting a year's relevant experience, you could get the best of both worlds by going to Kiev. As you can visit there for three months without a visa (and are thus on an equal footing with EU citizens), you can get your certificate at home and then wander around town speaking to employers (and I doubt if anybody will give a mosquito's buzz where you took your CELTA). Then the employer should apply for a work visa and, unlike say Russia, I think you can get it without having to go home first. The other reason why I suggest Kiev is that demand for teachers of English is strong. (By the way, I think your BA in English will come into its own a little later in your career, when you start to think about combinations such as university and self-employment.)

After that, consider Russia or wherever. Your experience just might help with something western, but until you become a really desirable property, employers will prefer not to bother with your visa when they can get a similarly qualified Brit without all the paperwork. (I'm not being funny; it's just the luck of the draw.)
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Qaaolchoura



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

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I'd say to take the TESOL course in the US. Of course that's because I did it that way, and loved it. On the other hand, I had a TESOL course 15 minutes' drive from my mother's house, which meant I didn't have to deal with serious travel expenses or housing costs while I took it. If you have to travel to and live in, say, New York to do the course, it might be worth doing it overseas, since you're paying to travel anyways, and overseas course and housing costs are often rather cheaper than domestic ones.

I'm not sure what minimal payments on your student loans are, but I might be able to give you advice on some places in Turkey that would let you save around 500 dollars a month, possibly more (at my current job I save almost that much; I don't smoke or drink; but I eat out every night, and often at locally "expensive" places). However none of these options are in the "European" part of Turkey; Istanbul costs more and pays less than the country as a whole, and there's not much of an English market in Thrace.

Korea, as mentioned, you can easily save well over 1000/month through EPIK or a good hagwon, but if you can afford it, I'd recommend coming to Turkey. (Korea is a tremendous culture shock, which many of my coworkers dealt with by heavy drinking, and I dealt with by getting the hell out of there, but if you're interested, you can learn more about Korea on the Korean forums.) Turkey is a far friendlier country where foreigners are concerned, at least in my experience. Also, Korea now requires a federally-apostilled FBI background check (when I did it, I did both background check and apostille at state level), which means it may take you as much as six months to get over there. Turke is a far easier place to get started working. (Though the bureaucracy is frustrating in a completely different sort of way. In Korea you get things sorted once and it's smooth sailing, in Turkey you get them sorted bit-by-bit, with all sorts of adventurous mishaps along the way.)

Coledavis: One thing to consider about Russia is that, when I was just starting out, I had an interview with a school in Russia that I didn't get. I asked if he minded telling me why, and he told me that other candidates seemed to have more experience and a better idea of classroom management. He also added that he essentially had a "quota" of Americans he was allowed to hire, and that he'd filled it, but that I might have gotten the job if I were British or Aussie. Of course I'm not exactly sure how this quota system works, or even if it was true or he was just trying to make me feel better. Never worked in Russia though, and never applied for a job in the rest of Eastern Europe (except Georgia, and you won't save any money there), so that's all I can say on that matter.

Regards,
~Q
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1133
Location: 1748'N 9746'W

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

If you do not live near a TEFL course in the US--and are looking at travelling to say San Fransico or Seattle for the course and having to pay expenses there--an option that has not been mentioned is doing the TEFL course in Latin America. Mexico, Costa Rica or Ecuador being the main choices. Of course once you finish, working here won't allow you to make student loan payments. You can either go from Latin America to Korea or some place else for your first job--or look into deferment options on your student loan.


Oh and of course there is the option of applying for the Peace Corps--if you are accepted, they will train you and your loan payments will be defered.
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
Central Europe is a legal option, as is Germany,
For Americans (the OP)???? I thought there were visa restrictions.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9562
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are, but they are not at full strength yet, compared to western Europe. Tightening up, though.
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kellysh



Joined: 15 Sep 2011
Posts: 3

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

Thanks for all the great info! Since I posted this, I have been leaning more heavily towards Korea, for a few reasons.

First, the culture shock might not affect me as much as it does other Americans, as I spent 3 years living in Asia as a teen. Granted, I lived in Malaysia, and the culture is very different between Southeast Asia and Korea, but I guess I have a better understanding of the Asian "mindset", which IS very different in some ways to what Westerners are used to. I have a very close Korean friend who lives in Seoul (we went to high school together in Malaysia; she's not American-Korean), so I feel that if things got very stressful, even if I don't end up in Seoul, I still have someone who's just a phone call or a bus ride away.

Secondly, I can't lie... the prospect of saving that much money is VERY appealing. The student debt is one thing, but the prospect of cheap and frequent travel is a big draw.

Then again, my mind is still open to other areas... Turkey sounds appealing as well, so I'll look into it, and I'll take my Korea-specific questions to that board. As far as the TEFL goes, the closest course I have found is an Oxford Seminar, about a 2 hour drive from here. However, it looks like it's only a 1-week course. Is that typical? I don't want to do a full-on MEd, but I didn't know this was something you could tick off in just a few days, either. Anyone know anything about the Oxford Seminars? If it helps, I live in Alabama, and there's nothing really offered here; I'd have to drive to Atlanta for any sort of course that doesn't involve applying to a university.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9498
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
spiral78 wrote:
Central Europe is a legal option, as is Germany,
For Americans (the OP)???? I thought there were visa restrictions.


It is a hassle, but it is a legal option for non-EU citizens to get legal work permits for the 'new' EU member countries, and for Germany. This has been true for years, and those of us who know the area have explained it many times over the years.


OP, Oxford Seminars isn't considered as highly as a CELTA or equivalent. The basic standard course is 30 days on site and includes practice teaching with actual students. Unless they've changed it, Oxford Seminars is a short course mostly focused on 'how to get a job abroad,' (rather than 'how to teach English as a Second/Foreign Language) and the practice teaching is with peer trainees, not actual language students.
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EFLeducator



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

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Best Opportunities for Americans? Reply with quote

kellysh wrote:
To sum up:

1. Should I get my TEFL cert here in the States, or do a course overseas?

2. What's the best place for a newbie to start, and what are the realistic options for moving around a bit once I have some money saved up?


1. You can get an online certificate. There is no section however, where you can practice teaching while being observed so you'll miss that plus the valuable feedback that comes with it but still, you'll learn a lot with an online certificate.

www.teflonline.com is a good one.

2. You mentioned something about student loans so I would say give South Korea a try. Or Japan or even Vietnam. You won't need paperwork at all to work in nam. It seems like most of the teachers in HCMC for example have zero credentials and work without a permit.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9498
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It seems like most of the teachers in HCMC for example have zero credentials and work without a permit.


EFL at its best, eh...certainly something to aspire to Confused
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Best Opportunities for Americans? Reply with quote

EFLeducator wrote:
kellysh wrote:
To sum up:

1. Should I get my TEFL cert here in the States, or do a course overseas?

2. What's the best place for a newbie to start, and what are the realistic options for moving around a bit once I have some money saved up?


1. You can get an online certificate. There is no section however, where you can practice teaching while being observed so you'll miss that plus the valuable feedback that comes with it but still, you'll learn a lot with an online certificate.

www.teflonline.com is a good one.

2. You mentioned something about student loans so I would say give South Korea a try. Or Japan or even Vietnam. You won't need paperwork at all to work in nam. It seems like most of the teachers in HCMC for example have zero credentials and work without a permit.



That was terrible advice. He has enough problems without you suggesting qualifications which are less well recognised. And as for purely online certificates, employers ignore them.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9562
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seconded!
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Teacher Jack



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 63
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:26 am    Post subject: Re: Best Opportunities for Americans? Reply with quote

kellysh wrote:
I know this has been asked 1,000 times, but as I've been reading posts for an hour and my curiosity hasn't been satiated, here we go...

I'm an American, will graduate in May 2013 with a BA in English Lit. I'm looking into TEFL courses, but from what I gather, it's best to take the course in the country where you will be teaching, and that's the part I need help with! I am most interested in Europe, but I understand that's going to be very difficult without an EU passport. I lived in Malaysia for a few years as a teen, so Southeast Asia holds some appeal, but I'm worried I won't make enough money there. I will graduate with around $15,000 in student debt, but no other expenses. I can live a pretty bare-bones lifestyle, but I will need a job that will allow me to at least make minimum payments on those student loans.

Considering all that, are my options better in Eastern Europe or Korea/China? Eastern Europe is better for me, geographically, as it's cheaper to make trips home when needed, and I have a lot of friends scattered throughout the EU, and it would be nice to visit them every now and then. However, I understand that it's easier to get a job with better pay in Asia, and I might even get airfare and/or accommodations picked up by the school.

To sum up:

1. Should I get my TEFL cert here in the States, or do a course overseas?
2. What's the best place for a newbie to start, and what are the realistic options for moving around a bit once I have some money saved up?


About student loans: If you are going abroad and worried about making payments on your student loans and they are federal loans, explore getting an Income Based or Income Contingent Repayment Plan. All Federal Student loans offer the option. A single person making less than $18,000 per year makes $0 per month payment on that plan. The interest still accumulates, but at least you keep your loans current. You can still choose to make payments on your loan but at least you have some flexibility.
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