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The Path from ESL to International Schools

 
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McQwaid



Joined: 18 Jan 2004

PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:23 am    Post subject: The Path from ESL to International Schools Reply with quote

I haven't posted and used this forum for years. I just took a look for a little nostalgia as I will be returning to Seoul for a week to visit some old friends. I read the threads on the staying and leaving thing and it made me wonder why so many concerned ESL teachers didn't/don't get into the international school teaching career path?

After graduation, I started ESL in Korea in 2004. I left in in 2006. For me, private/Gov't ESL didn't have the future job security and the subject didn't excite me. However, teaching did. My next move was into international schools - first as ESL and then I gradually moved into teaching other subjects. I've been riding the international school circuit for over 11 years, now with only IB schools (which I plan to stay with). IMO this is a solid reachable goal for ESL teachers who want to stay in teaching.

This career path has worked out really well for me. The job packages for these teaching jobs are very strong and supports my family. I can do this until I'm well into my 60s. For example, what Seoul International School just offered me to teach next year was many times stronger than the 2.3 Mil per month I was making in EPIK back in 2004. I'm not taking it because the S.E. Asia International School Circuit offers the same strong packages. I really love S.E Asia. In addition to the weather and friendly cultures in this region, the salaries are the same as the developed currencies, so the money can go a long way. Granted, it may take a few years until you build up the CV strong enough for these big premium schools but you can still do very well in the B tier international schools as you build your way up. The goal is there for you and the path is clear. A few strong years in ESL really gets one to master the art of "delivery" in the classroom. You can take this skill and easily mold it to another teaching area that you really enjoy. Or, stay in ESL if you really like it - international schools are always looking for fully certified ESL teachers.

Just throwing this out there for those of you who may feel their ESL time is a waste or a dead end. It's not if you stay in teaching! Ten + years later, my previous ESL experience on my resume always helps my applications when I change schools every few years.

I highly recommend ESL teachers who are worried about the future, and like teaching, to get that additional Uni teaching certification for ESL or even that other subject area you would really like to teach. International schools really value the combination of a teachable subject certification with ESL.

Picture it: Hong Kong, Singapore, Hanoi, Saigon, Bangkok, Phuket, Tokyo, Beijing, Phnom Penh, Bali, Jakarta, Nairobi, Seoul, Shanghai, and more ... all full of International Schools with salary and benefit packages of $40,000-$75,000 after you do a few years in the B Tier system ($20,000-$40,000). Or, who knows, you might get lucky and jump right in!

International School teaching is a good career choice for you if you don't mind working hard at climbing your own ladder. I hope to see you in the future as my competition at the job fairs! Smile
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I haven't posted and used this forum for years. I just took a look for a little nostalgia as I will be returning to Seoul for a week to visit some old friends. I read the threads on the staying and leaving thing and it made me wonder why so many concerned ESL teachers didn't/don't get into the international school teaching career path?


Don't want to teach kids
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tophatcat



Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Location: under the hat

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My salary is higher working for myself than working at an international school. I like being my own boss.
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tophatcat wrote:
My salary is higher working for myself than working at an international school. I like being my own boss.


Yeah, that too. No staff or management meetings, nice.
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always an option if you like teaching kids. Have a good buddy who had a very good run of it in HK. Expensive place to live, but he liked it and the salary covered it.

Personally, I went the university route. Just takes a few more years in school dedicated to a subject specialization, and then a few publications to get going. Never had a problem finding work, and I like the fact that my salary gets raised every year and I get a pension. Perks aren't bad, either.

tophatcat and edwardcatflap have a great point, though. Working for yourself can be rewarding. Only downside my self employed friends experience is vacation. Not working means not getting paid, and there's always the chance that your business will gravitate elsewhere should you be away too long. If you can get around that, and you relish the idea of getting a business up and running, it's all roses and sunshine.
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Only downside my self employed friends experience is vacation.


This is true, though with a young son at the moment, vacations have somewhat lost their appeal. They usually just result in my missus having a holiday and me looking after the kid.
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tophatcat



Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Location: under the hat

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PRagic wrote:
Always an option if you like teaching kids. Have a good buddy who had a very good run of it in HK. Expensive place to live, but he liked it and the salary covered it.

Personally, I went the university route. Just takes a few more years in school dedicated to a subject specialization, and then a few publications to get going. Never had a problem finding work, and I like the fact that my salary gets raised every year and I get a pension. Perks aren't bad, either.

tophatcat and edwardcatflap have a great point, though. Working for yourself can be rewarding. Only downside my self employed friends experience is vacation. Not working means not getting paid, and there's always the chance that your business will gravitate elsewhere should you be away too long. If you can get around that, and you relish the idea of getting a business up and running, it's all roses and sunshine.


So true. I can't up and take off a month during the summer. Vacation is the one perk I miss the most. I can shut things down for 7-9 days once a year but that's about it. The rest of the year it's a day here and a day or two there.
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another option is to add to your academic credentials and move into school administration.

Head of department, head of program, etc.... in a decent school usually offer a nice package combination of work and benefits.

Having had ESL/EFL experience and post graduate credentials coupled with some conference presentations and publications has lead to a nice position in administration (no regular classes but there is teacher training) with good pay, generous benefits and side work as a guest / featured speaker on the conference/workshop circuit across east Asia.

.
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

THAT is FANTASTIC advice. One of my best friends back in the US taught middle school English for 5 years. Hated it, but he had the certification and it was a job.

Went back and knocked out a Master's in Educational Administration. As he had the one MA in education already, it only took a couple more semesters.

Got a break when a local principal slot came open. Worked there, took another, better job a couple of years later, and then realized that the consultants coming in to the school were making more, enjoying work more, but working less. He was managing a charter school, and went on to manage two others for large edu consulting companies. Ended up getting very good at turning poorly performing schools around and got known for doing it.

Hung his own shingle after getting his feet wet in grant writing. Specializing in charter schools, he gets work all over the country, sometimes via repreat business and referals, and sometimes via those same huge edu consulting companies. Also consults for the state where he lives. Works at most 3/4 of a year, ususally less, gets flown all over the place, even Hawaii, and made USD 200K last year. The travel might not be for everyone, but it goes with the territory depending on what you want to do.

Funny thing is that if you ask him, he'll tell you his success is a byproduct of not really having liked teaching, and of being sick of paperwork, parents and teachers when he was a principal. All politics and b.s. He found his niche in management and leadership training, though, helping people adjust to just those same difficulties. Had to walk the walk before he could talk the talk, though.

TTompatz hits the nail on the head. Nothing is possible unless you invest in yourself, better your credentials, increase your exposure, and pay your dues. So many just 'want it and want it now', but that rarely, rarely ever happens in the real world. Or some may want it, but not be willing to put in the time or effort to make it happen. You simply have to make up your mind that you're going to do it, and then go for it. No excuses, no procrastination.

Obtaining most higher degrees aren't a matter of being a genious, it's a matter of stubborness; dig in and don't quit until it's done. If you don't like where you are and what you're doing, or you don't see bright prospects going forward, DO something about it!
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tophatcat



Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Location: under the hat

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with tom and PRagic.

There are many ways to up your game. I knew an elementary teacher who had become tired of working with kids. She upped her credentials, a PhD. Now she is a principal of a school. Now only does she have a higher salary but she will also have a much higher monthly retirement.
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good one. That consultant buddy of mine, who does a load of work in NYC and other major metro US areas, said that highly qualified TESOL specialists, especially those with Doctorates, are increasingly in demand, both within school systems themselves, or via the big edu consulting firms that farm out specialists in an on-need basis.

He often suggests using them. A lot of what he does is go into schools, assess their strengths and weaknesses (usually more of those, or they wouln't have hired him to begin with lol), and then lay out a road map for betterment.
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