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Trying to Fulfill Potential as an Adult EFL Educator, But...

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Joined: 19 Jul 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:48 pm    Post subject: Trying to Fulfill Potential as an Adult EFL Educator, But... Reply with quote

Hi, everyone...

First, please allow me to give a bit of background information on myself before I go any further- I am an American woman in her mid-twenties currently living in Argentina. I speak Spanish, and graduated about 2 years ago from an accredited university in the States with a BA in secondary education and Spanish, and an MAT in ESOL.

I currently teach EFL mostly in a primary school in Argentina, because the hours are decent, the work is fairly stable because it's K-12, etc. But honestly, I DON'T enjoy working with kids for a lot of reasons. It's just not my cup of tea (it just takes a certain personality, I guess). I don't see myself there long term at all.

I teach adults on the side as a tutor, and really enjoy it, partially because a major difference is that adults are more motivated than kids. Unfortunately, this situation is the opposite from my primary school job, because it's usually off the books, erratic hours, etc.

I feel like I'm not necessarily fulfilling my potential as an ESL/EFL teacher, because I know that if I could have my cake and eat it too, I"d be teaching adults in a stable educational institution (ex: a university), but because I came to Latin America with no connections, I don't really know how to go about looking for a stable job with long term potential teaching adults, nor how (probably horribly) competitive it would be.

Does anyone have any advice, suggestions, or feedback in terms of how to look for a job like the one I described (with qualifications like mine), if one even exists, or if I should venture elsewhere (though my heart has always been in Latin America)? Or if there's a field somehow related to ESL/EFL but perhaps more administrative in nature?

Any and all responses are appreciated. Thank you!

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Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3030
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Lauren, and welcome!

First let me say that I have no experience of South America, nor any contacts there, so there is very little advice that I can offer you regarding how you might move out of your current job and into the type you'd prefer. But I can tell you that these sorts of questions will surely receive more of a response over on the International Job Discussion forums, which it is possible to join within a few days (I doubt it would take more than a week), once the site admin have given your somewhat personal details a quick perusal (which is necessary to help prevent the potential spamming, flaming etc that comes from that portion of the site receiving much more traffic).
> 'Stuff for Teachers'
>>> ('New registrations will begin again on October 19, 2009' - that is, tomorrow! Seems fortuitous!).

Once you can post there, you might then try posting on the Latin America Forums - Argentina, or perhaps the General Latin America one. But don't post the same thread/topic in more than one place (at least not simultaneously), because that can spread discussions out (meaning potentially reduplicated effort for respondees) and might be viewed as spamming. Give one thread at least a week or so, and only if it doesn't get much or any response then decide to repost or reformulate in another forum (stating your reasons for re-doing so would seem a good idea). If all fails, the very topmost General Discussion (non-country-specific) forum would be a last resort if your possible threads in e.g. Argentina don't get noticed.

All I can say generally other than the above is, try not to think (and certainly don't be fooled or too strongly convinced or whatever by the supposed experts) that teaching children and teaching adults should be so very different (and apologies if you don't actually!): yes, there is a difference in motivation and ability between the ages, to be sure, but I always prepare kiddie lessons and materials just as thoroughly as I do adult, and try therefore not to make the lessons too bereft of genuine interest, authenticity and challenge (A lot of kids lessons that I read about seem like a waste of time, babysitting, not attempting to teach anything - one can only sing nursery rhymes or whatever for so long (again, not saying this is what you do!)). I think it is actually possible to relate to children almost as easily as adults, and it might even get easier over time, with "practice". Of course, I am not saying that you should stay in a job if you know you will never do it truly gladly and completely happily, but simply that it might help to be prepared that a move out of your current one could take longer than you're hoping, so perhaps try to make the best of it while you are "stuck" in it! Smile

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:54 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are very wise to analyze your likes and dislikes and recognize where you want to be and what you want to do. Many of my friends are now making a vision board which is a board of pictures of where they want to be in the near future. It helps you to organize your thoughts and keep the goal in focus as you put it up somewhere you can see it regularly. It also helps you see where you are missing information that you will need to accomplish the goal. I think there is probably a lot of information on the Net to help you do a vision board.

The main source of information about jobs is right here on Dave's so you need to visit the Job Forum regularly and apply for everything you think will be right for you.

You are in the right place already so you need to start visiting local adult ESL schools and universities with your resume in hand, but also interview them about possibilities for future full-time positions. Really get to know people who are doing a good job in your opinion - take them out for coffee and pick their brains about how they got to be where they are. Ask them to refer you to someone in the business who needs your talents.

Be flexible at the beginning and take any job that comes, even if it means working part-time for three or four schools or universities.

You might keep in mind opening your own school one day and envision how you would like that to look.

Or you could work towards finishing off your PhD and being a full-time professor. You get the idea.
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Joined: 30 Sep 2009
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:41 pm    Post subject: few comments/suggestions about teaching Reply with quote

A few things that I thought of off the bat was that I understand some of the differences between teaching adults and kids. Yes, adults have a strong motivation, but I think it's also a lot more obvious because they have a lot more focus. Kids just have so many other things going on that it's hard for them to stay as focused as adults can. However, you can be pretty surprised at how rapidly kids can learn a new language when they're really engaged and enjoying what they're doing. I can give you some recommendations on how to keep kids engaged if you want, but my biggest suggestion while you're at least working with them for now is to prepare activities that will challenge them without them even knowing it. Something fun like a play or music or dance.

I also like Sally's comment about preparing to have a few jobs with different companies/universities at the beginning.

Hope this helps!
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