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Question about TEFL

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

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Question about TEFL

Postby GoingAwol » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:59 am

I'm interested in doing TEFL once I get out of college and have a few questions about it.

#1- I have been doing research on it and I keep seeing that alot of the schools don't want people with accents. What does that mean? Obviously everyone has an accent to some extent. I have a heavy southern U.S accent, would that make it hard for me to get TEFL jobs?

#2- I have been looking up the monthly pay for some jobs and it looks like a lot of TEFL jobs only pay enough to break even after you factor in cost of living. If that's the case those jobs aren't even worth pursuing because I would like to do more than break even. Is there something I'm missing? Do these seemingly low paying jobs have some sort of hidden benefit that makes them worth pursuing?
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Postby Ghost » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:49 am

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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby Jester » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:49 pm

GoingAwol wrote:
#1- I have been doing research on it and I keep seeing that alot of the schools don't want people with accents. What does that mean? Obviously everyone has an accent to some extent. I have a heavy southern U.S accent, would that make it hard for me to get TEFL jobs?



I think that what they are saying is that they don't want Nigerians, Dotheads and Filipinos.

You'll be fine.



#2- I have been looking up the monthly pay for some jobs and it looks like a lot of TEFL jobs only pay enough to break even after you factor in cost of living. If that's the case those jobs aren't even worth pursuing because I would like to do more than break even. Is there something I'm missing?



Nope. IMO, anyway, NOTHING you are missing. It's a low-skilled job that 100 million people can do. It pays decently only in countries that are damned unpleasant to live in (Gulf) or nasty to work for (Korea) or growing really fast and newly prosperous (China up to now, Cambodia in the past).

In the long run, you can either get more credentials and become an examiner of other teachers' work, like Mr. S, a member here.

Or you can work in Saudi etc and make the bucks, then party elsewhere seasonally, like Ladislav, another member here.

Or you can use it like most teachers do, a way to get out of the Ameri-Zone and travel, without accumulatiing a fortune first.

In NO case is it a case to middle class wife-at-home-with-kids life abroad.
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby xiongmao » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:14 pm

TEFL pays well in Western countries, but it is very seasonal.

It's well worth getting a top notch qualification like the CELTA - I've thoroughly enjoyed my course and I've learnt some huge transferable skills, including how to be calm under pressure, which came in handy today as I found myself in a potentially dangerous situation during an anarchist protest lol.

But back to the course, about half the students on my course are non native speakers, so it's not a problem provided you can pass the interview to get on the course.
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby GoingAwol » Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:29 am

Thanks for the input guys! Well I think my plans have changed! As of right now I think I'm going to bust my ass at work, save money for a year or so, take a TEFL certification course, and get to Russia. I learned that you can get TEFL jobs in Russia without a college degree so I'm going to put getting a degree on hold for now because I want to get out of this country. I just can't wait another 4 years
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby Johnny1975 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:29 am

What about teaching english online and with no qualifications? How easy is it to do that?
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby Cornfed » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:48 am

GoingAwol wrote:I'm interested in doing TEFL once I get out of college and have a few questions about it.

#1- I have been doing research on it and I keep seeing that alot of the schools don't want people with accents. What does that mean? Obviously everyone has an accent to some extent. I have a heavy southern U.S accent, would that make it hard for me to get TEFL jobs?

It depends, but the preferred accents seem to be "standard" somewhat upper class north eastern American and Received Pronunciation English accents.

#2- I have been looking up the monthly pay for some jobs and it looks like a lot of TEFL jobs only pay enough to break even after you factor in cost of living. If that's the case those jobs aren't even worth pursuing because I would like to do more than break even. Is there something I'm missing? Do these seemingly low paying jobs have some sort of hidden benefit that makes them worth pursuing?

Yes, like most shitty, thankless jobs they are seen, perhaps erroneously, as a preferable alternative to immediate suicide by the poor bastards doing them.
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Postby Ghost » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:22 am

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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby MrMan » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:25 am

GoingAwol wrote:I'm interested in doing TEFL once I get out of college and have a few questions about it.

#1- I have been doing research on it and I keep seeing that alot of the schools don't want people with accents. What does that mean? Obviously everyone has an accent to some extent. I have a heavy southern U.S accent, would that make it hard for me to get TEFL jobs? [/quot]

They may want Americans to have Midwestern accents. Unless things have changed a lot over the years, you could probably still get a job with a southern accent. But it would put you at a disadvantage, IMO. It may be something they can use as an excuse not to hire blacks, who aren't as popular as teachers in some countries. It's like if you wanted to hire a French tutor and paid a lot of money, and the tutor was black or looked Chinese, you might feel suspicious of their accent. You wouldn't want a Chinese or African accent in French.

#2- I have been looking up the monthly pay for some jobs and it looks like a lot of TEFL jobs only pay enough to break even after you factor in cost of living. If that's the case those jobs aren't even worth pursuing because I would like to do more than break even. Is there something I'm missing? Do these seemingly low paying jobs have some sort of hidden benefit that makes them worth pursuing?


Usually TESOL jobs are okay for singles wanting to travel. When I was in South Korea, the standard was about $1600 a month and an apartment or a room in a shared apartment with other teachers. I also got some health insurance that I did not use while I was there. I saved about $6,000 that year. This was in the mid-1990's. I ate out about once a day during the week and twice a day on weekends, dated a little, but did not drink. I didn't spend a lot on household stuff.

I also worked in Indonesia. When I first got there, there weren't that many schools. A teacher could show up and make about $1200 or so a month. Then English First (EF) opened up dozens of schools and would only pay low wages, around $700 to $800 a month with an apartment and airfare. I refused to work for that amount, although my wages did get 'pegged to the dollar' at the pre-crisis rate and I finished out a school year making less than $400 a month. I was teaching school children and decided to ride it out after the monetary crisis. After that, I did not renew there and found a better paying job in Jakarta.

In my experience I the 1990's and early 00's, it was always easy to get a job teaching English in Asia if I would accept the standard market rate. That was fine as a single man in S. Korea. I think the rate is up to $1800 a month or so. I don't know if they are more selected, but back then a fresh college grad with a white face could get a job at an English institute. Accommodations could vary widely. You might get your own tiny office converted to an apartment (bathe out of the sink, drain in the floor), a shared room in a nice apartment, a dingy one-person apartment, or they might be lose about the contract and put you in homestay when you are supposed to stay in a real apartment. You have to ask questions. If you teach college students and businessmen, they usually give you split shifts, where you work at 6 or 7 AM and then again from 5 PM to 9 or 10 PM. Jet lag under these conditions can be miserable. If you teach kids, you may get just afternoons, but have to work Saturday morning, too.
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby Ghost » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:06 pm

Mr. Man, do you still teach English in Indonesia? How are conditions for TEFL there now? How's the pay? Is free accommodation standard?
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby ezinho » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:49 pm

Here are Aaron Clarey's thoughts on TEFL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ1jl6KSA5s
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby Ghost » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:15 am

ezinho wrote:Here are Aaron Clarey's thoughts on TEFL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ1jl6KSA5s


While I can't help but laugh when he mentions freshly graduated American girls with useless degrees teaching abroad, he's an idiot.

First of all I don't use the term "career." That's a feminist term. Men have jobs. TEFL is a job. You have to dress for it, have qualifications (which aren't always stringent), and show up on time and do your job. There is a ladder, but it's short for most TEFLers.

He mentions that teaching English without knowing the students' language is stupid, which shows he hasn't even done 5 minutes of research. It can and is done all the time. An EFL teacher teaching kids is usually given a bilingual teaching assistant, and for certain elements of language teaching you don't even need that. Whether or not your employer wants you to be bilingual depends on where you will teach. In Europe it's probably more desirable. In much of Asia, employers prefer monolingual teachers.

I can see his point about recently graduated Western girls doing it, since they're just f***ing around.

TEFL gets a bad rap for two reasons:

1. When it first started, most of the "teachers" were just going abroad solely for vices.

2. Most anglophones believe that if you have a job (or "career") that you can't also be enjoying life apart from your job. So when someone travels and teaches in a vivacious society, it's seen as just for fun even though TEFL is a legitimate job: you have to be punctual, dress, and do your job.
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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby Cornfed » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:36 am

So it would appear that Aaron Clarey is in the habit of commenting on stuff he doesn't know jack about. Good reason not to listen to him. On the subject of needing to know your students' native language, how would anyone be an ESL teacher in the West, where you might have 6 or 7 different language groups represented in one classroom?
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Postby Ghost » Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:54 am

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Re: Question about TEFL

Postby xiongmao » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:47 pm

Great YouTube, Aaron tells it how it is. It's better to find a "proper" job overseas than teach English. Also English teaching is a low status job in the West, and doesn't have a great deal of value on your resume. The biggest value of doing the CELTA was that it vastly improved my self confidence and now I tend to take control and set the agenda during job interviews.

As for not speaking the local language, well most foreigners teaching English in somewhere like Asia are just employed for their conversational skills anyway.
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