Advice on becoming an ESL teacher

Discussion in 'ESL/ELL' started by Lielly, Jun 20, 2020.

  1. Lielly

    Lielly Guest

    Jun 20, 2020


    I've been thinking of becoming an ESL teacher for a while, I planned to look into it in a year or two. But the lockdown has put me out of work for months, so I'm thinking of changing careers a bit earlier. I've done a few pricey courses in my life though, and usually regretted it when they failed to lead to a job, or led to a much worse job than I imagined. I'm hoping to get some advice and avoid any pitfalls this time around.

    I'm living in Australia, and I'd like to spend some time teaching ESL in China, then perhaps other countries down the track. While I know that it's fairly easy to get a job teaching english in China, I want to make sure that I actually have something worthwhile to offer students.

    I've heard that the TESOL qualification is applicable primarily in western anglophone countries, but some sources say it's recognised internationally as well. Other sources say that a TEFL qualification is more appropriate to teach overseas. The TESOL courses I've been able to find online seem more rigorous. Can anyone advise on that?

    I've been looking at TESOL Australia's International TESOL Diploma course. Does that seem appropriate? Is the organisation as reputable as it looks?

    Are there other things I should be thinking about before considering teaching overseas?

    Thanks for bearing with me. These might seem like obvious questions, but I've been burned by not asking obvious questions before.
  3. naturaledu

    naturaledu Guest

    Jul 20, 2020

    I'd worked with some ESL teachers for about 8 years.
    Most of them had romantic dreams when they went abroad. They thought it's just like vocation. And the recruitment agencies would tell you it's like free travel and you would enjoy the excitement. It's true sometimes somewhere on the Earth. But most of them went back home with a story they might not enjoy telling.
    Qualification isn't what you should be worried about. What you need to think about is
    the new way of life,
    the people who behave rather differently from you,
    the local values, morals,
    the food,
    the local sanitary standard,
    and the local custom and social pressure, etc.
    If you haven't thought about those things, then I'd say you are not ready and expect a lot of surprises.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2020
  4. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Aug 23, 2005
    Likes Received:

    Jul 20, 2020

    I am TEFL/TESOL certified, and oddly enough, I earned my certifications from a school is Australia (I live in the US) because it is much cheaper to get there. You refer to getting ESL, but ESL is English as a Second Language. If you want to actual go to a foreign country and teaching conversational English, you don't want an ESL certification/degree -- you want TEFL/TESOL. Basically, ESL certifies you to teach English (both written and spoken) to foreign students IN an English-speaking country. Know the difference between TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certifications. A TEFL certified teacher teaches in places where English is not an official language, but the student may need to learn it for work or school. TESOL teachers may teach English to immigrants to English-speaking countries.

    Jobs are not that difficult to get once you have the correct certification (different countries require different levels or certification.) For native-speakers, your country of origin can be important -- some countries are greatly preferred depending on which country is searching for the instructor. UK (and Australia) are preferred in some parts of the world, while US (and Canada) are preferred in other parts. Native speakers from India and African' countries (other than South Africa) have the hardest time getting jobs (because their vowel pronunciation is quite different from the rest of the English-speaking world.) Most applicants from African countries (other than South Africa), and countries like India are disqualified out-of-hand by the hiring countries. Even based on what country you come from, people in certain regions are preferred over others. For example, in Japan, mid-westerners are highly sought after, while people with deep southern accents, heavy New York accents, and Boston accents, are much less in demand.

    The key to getting a job overseas teaching English is to get a reputable agency, and to plan way in advance. It takes time to obtain the needed credentials, references, visas, and work papers to do this. Also remember that the school year doesn't start in September in all foreign countries. In Japan, the school year starts in April. In China, it does start in September. In Thailand, it stars mid-May. In Vietnam, it starts in August.

    My advise is to contact several reputable recruiting agencies (you can find them by web search and researching their claims, and reviews) and ask them specifically what their process is. Each locality has very different requirements, right down to which specific TEFL/TESOL certification is required.

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