Question for international ESL teachers.

Hi guys.

I’m nearly done with my masters degree and blah blah blah, finding a job has been difficult. I really, REALLY don’t want to be homeless or live with my parents, so I’m thinking of teaching internationally. (My degree is in public policy, with an emphasis on international development, so getting more international experience and learning another language would be beneficial for me, career-wise, anyway.)

A lot of the jobs I’m seeing require rather specific certifications. My question is: how hard and fast is this? I worked as an EFL teacher for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, so I have experience, I’ve had formal training as a teacher, and somewhere around my apartment, I think I have my certification by the Bulgarian government that states that I’ve qualified to be an English teacher.

FTR, I’m not interested in working in Western Europe or Japan or Korea, which seem to be the places that most people want to go to. I’m more interested in Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East (although not Saudi…maybe Egypt). Possibly Southeast Asia as well.

What do you guys think? Is it worth writing a cover letter up?

I think you should narrow down where you’d like to live. Which of your listed peferred destinations most intruiges you? Also, what language do you think would be most valuable for you to learn? I can give you plenty of leads on Indonesia, for example - but is Bahasa Indonesia going to be a marketable/useful skill for your future?

I definitely think you can blag your way into teaching English pretty much wherever you like with your background. Lots of places only require a Bachelor’s degree (of any flavour) - your Masters, teaching experience and your Bulgarian certification are all just cake. I also feel like the job postings you mention (care to share any?) are just the tip of the iceberg, and if you were to show up in your country of choice, professionally dressed, resume in hand, winning smile in place. you could easily fall on your feet. Depends how comfortable you are at diving in head-first, obviously :slight_smile:

I have a friend who left the U.S. to teach English in Moscow. He’s been there about 5 years now.

I can’t give very good advice, but I have looked into this too. I get the impression the CELTA and DELTA certs are the best, and the online certs really don’t matter.
However when I tried to look into those certs they tended to cost a thousand or more, and were not available locally.

I’ve been ‘told’ that just having a bachelors degree should be enough (w/o certification beyond that), but I don’t know how true that is. I haven’t looked hard enough.

Does he have the CELTA or the DELTA?

Possibly! I was really interested in one job I saw until I saw that one of the required skills was Bahasa Indonesian. PM me if you know of anyone looking for an experienced but not necessarily “certified” teacher.

But right now I think I’m going to focus on Russia. I’m interested in Central Asia, and I’m pretty sure I can pick up Russian quickly if I was working there and made an effort to learn the language, since I already speak another Slavic language.

I’ve got a bit of wanderlust at the moment, though (I haven’t left the country for five months!), and would be interested in all kinds of places.

The best source for actual experiences is Dave’s ESL Cafe forums.

Most of my knowledge is with the pacific rim. Job adverts in those areas are rare, so it’s difficult to get a sense of “average.” However, it does seem that Saudi Arabia has the best pay/benefits/conditions.

You may be qualified for a University position. If so, you can try the ads at The Chronicle of Higher Education. All of these job ads usually require MA or higher.

However, another path I would recommend is The Global Village language teaching franchise. They have schools in the US and Canada, and, by language school standards, are impeccably well-managed. Before you go overseas, you might want to taste the teacher’s life a little closer to home. Most teachers generally need a) experience, b) mentoring, and c) a bookshelf of materials before they strike out on their own.

I’m not sure you read my OP? I’ve already worked as a teacher for two years. It’s not what I want to do with the rest of my life, but it’s okay and I’m not too terrible at it.

Yes, I read it. I withheld my comments about them.

Peace Corps: I have read several editions of the book the PC usually publishes about the experience of volunteers. I have also worked with someone who was a member of the Canadian version of the Peace Corps. In both cases, they were given the equivalent of the redneck instructional guide to swimming: getting thrown in the river and told to sink or swim.

Student Teaching: in respectable programs, the student is expected to have 40+ contact hours with a mentor along with class observations, teach about 10 class hours, and meet with the mentor for feedback. In non-respectable programs, I’ve seen as low as 10 hours total time with 1-2 hours of teaching. Given that neither of your degrees are related to education, my guess would be that you are on the low end of the spectrum, or possibly even a GA.

Certificate: these generally are not accepted as legitimate licenses by any school. As mentioned above, DELTA/CELTA is one of the few that are, and their rigor is equivalent to a master’s degree (at the DELTA level.) Most certification programs are for-profit, and anyone whose check clears is given a certificate regardless of their success in the program. At one of the schools I worked at, I helped print graduation certificates made using MS Word clip art.

Part of my advice (sorry if it was misunderstood) was that you are qualified to teach at a college or university, with all the perks and higher pay that go with it. However, if you do try for these, I have seen many teachers bomb completely out of the profession because all they had were degrees without sufficient experience or acclimation. On the other hand, if you are willing to go through the language school route, you don’t need the MA…in fact, until the late 90’s, most places didn’t even require a BA. Of all the language school jobs out there, probably only JET does give a fairly rigorous training program for new teachers.

Well, it was kind of sink or swim, I’ll agree. I mean, we got a lot of stuff about methodology and pedagogy and we did student teaching, but it was a total crash course and when I started I was like “wtf am I DOING?” (Especially because a lot of the stuff I had been taught was really only applicable in an ideal situation, which was, of course, not where I was. All kinds of ideas about lesson plans that I had when I started went out the window pretty much on the first day.)

But then I spent two years working as a regular teacher in a public school system. I learned a lot on the job. So, quality of my training aside, I personally think I’m an okay teacher.

I hadn’t really thought of working in a college or university. When I taught before, it was at the elementary school level, and I liked that. I enjoy being around kids. That gives me something to think about, anyway.

Well, I teach at a reputable ESL school in Bandung, Indonesia and AFAIK for most ESL schools in INA all you need is a bachelors degree or a CELTA equivalent. Note the or. For someone like you who has a masters and teaching experience but not a CELTA, my school would probably sponsor your CELTA in exchange for a 1 or 2 year contract.

Hey Aramnity, you in Indonesia? I thought I was the only one!

I’m sure you know this already, but Indonesia is the 4th most populous nation in the world and has the largest population of Moslems in the world. As a country full of Islamic moderates, with a somewhat worrisome growth in fundamentalism, it is certainly a hugely significant country for anyone with a clue about international relations. Moreover, its economic significance shouldn’t be underestimated, given its vast natural resources, not to mention its temptingly large domestic consumer market and relatively inexpensive labor. Thousands of foreign academicians, business people, political analysts, agricultural specialists, economists, ethnomusicologists, and other specialists have had wonderful careers largely focused on Indonesia, often enhanced by a sound knowledge of the lingua franca, Bahasa Indonesia.

Moreover, Indonesian is virtually identical to the language of Malaysia, and the language is of enormous assistance in Singapore and Brunei as well.

I’m always amazed at the dismissive attitude most Americans take toward the study of Bahasa Indonesia. Okay, it isn’t French or Spanish, but guess what? A gazillion people are bilingual in English/French or English/Spanish. If you can be bilingual English/Indonesian, you will have a rather unusual skill, and can really stand out and have some fascinating opportunities.