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English Teachers: which certificate?

Discuss working and making a living overseas, starting a business, or studying abroad.

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English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Chrissays » Sun Apr 05, 2015 6:12 am

Hi all,

I'm almost done with the semester and I only have until December until I graduate. I am taking two summer courses online so I have the convenience of doing all my work at home.

Which certificates should I get in order to get a good position teaching english in Asia? I'm planning on knocking this out over the summer since I'll have the most time and it'll be the most efficient where if I complete everything on track I can leave as early as December, the month I get my degree.

Any suggestions? Do u get celta or TEFL? And what is the difference?
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Cornfed » Sun Apr 05, 2015 6:28 am

I would say the CELTA if you are fairly intelligent. The difference is that it is standardized so that people know what they are getting.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby xiongmao » Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:14 pm

I would say that if you want to work in Asia it doesn't make a huge difference. The key thing is that you need to be over 21 and have a bachelor's degree.

I'm currently doing the CELTA and finding it hard going, even on a part time course. With hindsight I think I'd have done better with the Trinity TESOL, as it's more forgiving of failure.

I'm also doing a basic 120 hr online course - I've already done the 20 hours face to face which took place over a weekend. The face to face instructor was brilliant. The course materials have been pretty average, but the assignments have been surprisingly rigorous and actually just as taxing as anything you'd get on a CELTA. If you want to do one of these courses, just search for TEFL course - they vary from country to country. I paid around $300 for mine. Hint: they put prices up in the Summer due to increased demand. Whichever one you do, go for one that has at least 20 hours face to face, not purely online.

The good thing about the CELTA is the 6 hours of teaching practice with REAL students, plus for every hour you teach, you do 5 hours observing your peers teaching, plus another 3 hours of watching experienced (usually DELTA qualified) teachers teaching your guinea pig students.

BTW extroverts tend to do better on the CELTA, although their weak point can be resistance to change and not learning from their mistakes.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Ghost » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:38 pm

I think either a CELTA or TEFL is fine. The main thing is to go with a course that offers a practicum so that you get actual classroom experience. I have a background and experience teaching, so I went with a TEFL, but it was CELTA equivalent. (It was nearly 200 hours and had practice teaching and observation.) Although for Asia, Panda has a good point - it's really most important to have a degree and be old enough. (And be handsome. That will literally be considered a qualification, especially the more backwater places you go to.)
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Hero » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:48 pm

Ghost wrote:I think either a CELTA or TEFL is fine. The main thing is to go with a course that offers a practicum so that you get actual classroom experience. I have a background and experience teaching, so I went with a TEFL, but it was CELTA equivalent. (It was nearly 200 hours and had practice teaching and observation.) Although for Asia, Panda has a good point - it's really most important to have a degree and be old enough. (And be handsome. That will literally be considered a qualification, especially the more backwater places you go to.)


Looks like I've got it made :D
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Ghost » Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:54 pm

Hero wrote:
Ghost wrote:I think either a CELTA or TEFL is fine. The main thing is to go with a course that offers a practicum so that you get actual classroom experience. I have a background and experience teaching, so I went with a TEFL, but it was CELTA equivalent. (It was nearly 200 hours and had practice teaching and observation.) Although for Asia, Panda has a good point - it's really most important to have a degree and be old enough. (And be handsome. That will literally be considered a qualification, especially the more backwater places you go to.)


Looks like I've got it made :D


If you're talking about being handsome, then don’t let it go to your head yet. Yes, you’ll have tons of jobs to pick from…kindergarten jobs or language mill jobs (Guess how many EFL teachers like these jobs?) If you want a respectable job that isn’t just playing games with five year olds, you’ll need some actual experience and qualifications.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby MrMan » Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:37 am

Chrissays wrote:Hi all,

I'm almost done with the semester and I only have until December until I graduate. I am taking two summer courses online so I have the convenience of doing all my work at home.

Which certificates should I get in order to get a good position teaching english in Asia? I'm planning on knocking this out over the summer since I'll have the most time and it'll be the most efficient where if I complete everything on track I can leave as early as December, the month I get my degree.

Any suggestions? Do u get celta or TEFL? And what is the difference?


What is your degree in? Do you plan to do ESL for a career?

CELTA is probably the best certificate in terms of prestige. But let's say you wanted to work in South Korea. Unless things have changed (in 20 years :) ), if you have a degree, you can get a job and teach there. So what you'd be looking for is something to give you teaching knowledge. If you can get that from a cheaper program where you don't have to pay $2000 for a one-month course, you could do that.

In some cases, maybe a CELTA will get you a better job. There may be some slightly better schools in Asia that will hire a CELTA and not someone else. There used to be a British Institute in Jakarta. But, the pay at these places is only slightly better from what I recall. I never did the bargain basement $700 a month jobs in Indonesia. EF paid really low wages, I heard. I managed never to work there.

Honestly, teaching ESL overseas is a kind of low-end job in terms of pay. It beats McDonald's or unemployment in the US. It's fine for a single man. But when you start having kids, maybe you could continue to work at an institute, but it's hard to really thrive on that income. If you could start your own school and really build it up, it may be a good thing to be into, but you need to learn a little about business or have a partner you can trust. (Just imagine trying to find that in Asia.) Maybe you could marry a manager, even a finance expert or accountant, and pull it off.

If your degree is in something that can be taught, maybe you could look into teaching that along with ESL, especially if you started your own business. There is opportunity for certified teachers overseas. International and national plus schools in Indonesia hire expats for wages either above, the same as, or less than back home. But the cost of living is cheap and they usually provide you with a place to stay. It's not a bad gig if you are planning to do it for a few years while you are single.

If you want to do it long term, some people in Korea and Japan make big bucks doing private lessons. One way to get a lot is to find a teacher whose leaving and say, "Do you mind if I handle your privates for you.... when you leave?" Don't say it that way. But you get the idea. I didn't do that because it was against my contract in Korea. The government doesn't like it if you do that if you don't pay taxes on the income. I suppose it's possible to do private lessons and save up money to start our own business. Starting a school would be expensive in South Korea, but it may be more doable in some lesser developed countries, especially if you make some rich contacts who can fund your school.

I think it's good to go into a career like this with a plan. If you are already are certified to teach K-12, or some portion thereof in the US, the international schools are a good place for a career, probably. Otherwise, you could teach there but have some other plan for if you marry and want a family or need more money for something else. That could be a plan to open you own school or other business in Asia. If you are thinking of going back to grad school, I considered an MA TESOL, but just chose a more lucrative field. An MATESOL may put me on the top of the list for lousy ESL jobs, but it probably wouldn't have increased my pay, at least in Indonesia. Universities typically paid low, and if they hired MATESOLs, I'd have to compete with cheaper locals and other expats. Masters won't get you much in the way of university jobs in the US either. Maybe you could work for a university in a developing country, but salaries could be low. If you do get the rare good job, that's great. But the risk versus reward for MATESOL isn't that great, IMO. If you use it as a stepping stone to a PhD to get an okay university prof job, you might just be able to go straight to the PhD. I wouldn't advise most people to try to get a PhD.

The English institute thing has the advantage of working you 20 or 25 hours a week. You have to plan lessons, but it's not as draining as being a real school teacher, where you can put in well over 40 hours a week easily.

If you work in Korea, ask about the hours first. Typically, if you teach kids, you may work afternoons but they expect you to work Saturday. If you teach adults, you might teach from 6:30 or 7 AM to 10 and then go back at 4 or 5 PM and teach until 9 or 10. You can end up with not enough time to eat dinner and get 8 hours sleep, so recovering from jetlag can be really rough. If you got to Korea in the summer, it's hot and humid, but it's so far north, the sun comes up at 5 AM. Kids would get up with the sun and their parents would have them playing on the playground at 5 or 5:30 making noise outside the window when I was trying to sleep and recover from jet lag. The sun was so bright. The school owners put these awful hot polyester blanket and sheets on the bed. I finally broke the fan and strapped it back together so it would rattle and drown out the kids outside. I got a pillow to put over my head, and some decent-feeling cotton sheets. I felt sick for a couple of weeks due to lack of sleep. It's hard for me to sleep in the day time, though I managed to eventually and recover from the jet lag and the split shift. The split shift is unpleasant normally, but if you are jet lagged and haven't built up a tolerance to jet lag, it can be brutal.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Cornfed » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:06 am

MrMan wrote:CELTA is probably the best certificate in terms of prestige. But let's say you wanted to work in South Korea. Unless things have changed (in 20 years :) ), if you have a degree, you can get a job and teach there.

They have changed, dramatically and for the worse, in the last five years or so.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby MrMan » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:27 am

Cornfed, how so? Is it hard to get a job in Korea?
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Cornfed » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:37 am

MrMan wrote:Cornfed, how so? Is it hard to get a job in Korea?

Oh hell yes, when you combine the effects of the crash of 08 with huge numbers of people discovering Korea on Facebook, and also the phasing out of foreign teachers in public schools. Even when you get a job, with the decline in pay and conditions I doubt it is worth it any more. Much as I hate Daves ESL Cafe, you might like to check out the long, depressing threads on the state of the job market there to get a clear picture.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby xiongmao » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:21 pm

Thanks for the report MrMan!

I'm only getting my teaching qualifications as a backup career. Thankfully I've got a more lucrative main career in IT, but it's hard to find those kinds of jobs overseas if you don't speak the local language. Although it can be done.

Most of the students on my CELTA course are those who have fallen in love with Spain and want to live here. And since most of them are young, that means working, not living off a pension or something. To be honest though, teaching here pays little more than bar work.

What worries me as a CELTA student is that it takes a long time to plan a single half hour of teaching. Imagine the planning for 20-30 hours a week. When would you sleep? Also if you have to work weekends or evenings, when would you take time to do dating and other stuff?

I still like my other plan, which is making enough money in the UK to go and live somewhere else until I get bored and miss Marks & Spencers food, Christmas treees etc. etc.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Cornfed » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:38 pm

xiongmao wrote:What worries me as a CELTA student is that it takes a long time to plan a single half hour of teaching. Imagine the planning for 20-30 hours a week. When would you sleep? Also if you have to work weekends or evenings, when would you take time to do dating and other stuff?

It doesn't have to take that long, and obviously you would want to base most of your lessons around existing materials. It should take about an equal time to plan and prepare as it does to teach, so if you had to come up with 20 hours of unique lessons, you should be doing about a 40 hour week, which for teaching is indeed a bit of a drag. Ideally you would want a lighter workload.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Ghost » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:56 pm

Cornfed wrote:
xiongmao wrote:What worries me as a CELTA student is that it takes a long time to plan a single half hour of teaching. Imagine the planning for 20-30 hours a week. When would you sleep? Also if you have to work weekends or evenings, when would you take time to do dating and other stuff?

It doesn't have to take that long, and obviously you would want to base most of your lessons around existing materials. It should take about an equal time to plan and prepare as it does to teach, so if you had to come up with 20 hours of unique lessons, you should be doing about a 40 hour week, which for teaching is indeed a bit of a drag. Ideally you would want a lighter workload.


Which is where university gigs come in. A lighter work-load is a major reason they are considered desirable. And these take actual qualifications, unlike kindergartens, which virtually everyone hates.

Although for lesson planning, it doesn't even need to take more than 2 or 3 hours a week. If you have textbooks or old lesson plans (sometimes coworkers will share them) you could plan out a year's worth of lessons in a relatively short time. This was more or less what happened at my last job. Everyone copy and pasted prior lesson plans from the past. Eventually, a couple of people quit doing them. And then everyone quit doing them.
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Mr S » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:01 pm

Anything with proper recognized certification is best to get and that usually means Celta, Delta or an ESL program from a recognized university. Most TEFL programs are private companies trying to make a buck. Most serious schools and ESL teachers will laugh at someone with a TEFL certificate even though they probably went through much of the same crap as a CELTA person would but maybe less rigorous.

If you want to teach overseas get an education degree in a field where it can be used in multiple teaching venues like a reading specialty or something. I have a MS in Reading and writing so technically I can use it for private schools in a traditional k-12 setting or ESL language schools if I wished.

The real money in ESL work overseas is either in international schools, universities or English proficiency testing. If you can somehow find your way into one of those areas you can live a decent lifestyle overseas with at least a middle class income or higher. Usually you need a MA degree though to get hired or able to compete to get one of those lucrative positions. Obviously, China would be easier to obtain one of these jobs than a smaller English marketed country.

I do English proficiency testing in the Philippines, which is a lucrative market for the Philippines since there is an endless supply of Filipinos trying to move overseas for one reason or another. It's a good niche to get into. China is also a great place for English proficiency testing. If you can combine that with a low hour University position like a 15 hr work week or something, you can really make a lot of money.

If I was single and just cared about money I'd transfer to China, from co-workers who used to work in China doing a similar gig, they were making over 4k a month, it just depended how much they wanted to work really. It does burn you out cause it's endless monotony with Chinese speakers unlike Filipinos where at least there are different level of English level speaking. Alas, I have to stay here in PI and sacrifice for the greater good of others for the time being, pity me :roll: ...
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Re: English Teachers: which certificate?

Postby Ghost » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:37 pm

How did you get that kind of job, Mr. S? I have a list of schools in the Philippines for the future (going to China again for the time being), but schools don't seem to ever reply to emails, although I haven't sent out that many so far. I'm assuming the first step is being there in person. What kind of qualifications do you have? I only have a bachelor's, but if getting an MA would more or less allow me to work as a teacher in the Philippines, I might make the investment.
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