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Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

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Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

Postby Hero » Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:22 pm

I'm a former Math professor thinking about getting an ESL certification and teaching in Asia. The problem is, I'm worried that I may face the same issues teaching English that I had teaching Math. That is, disrespectful, lazy and rude students that expect to be entertained all the time, and administrators who won't back you up if you have problem students. I hope the situation is different outside the U.S.
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Postby odbo » Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:53 am

Well it's a matter of fact that youths in the US & UK are the most cynical (and unhappy) on the planet. Less jaded people, especially in less developed countries, still want to learn and don't see education just as a required prerequisite they have to bullshit through to eventually be able to afford an Audi and a yuppie lifestyle. Of course some populations like the Chinese or Koreans are brutally pragmatic and genuinely don't give a rat's ass what they're learning as long as they get straight A's and claw their way to a high paying job so their nazi-mommy will stop bitching.. but at least you won't have to deal with disrespectful or lazy people in that environment. :lol:
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Postby MrPeabody » Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:44 am

I have heard plenty of horror stories about students and administrations in third world countries. Although, the adult students I taught in Thailand while getting my CELTA couldn't have been nicer. I would really prefer to teach adult students at a university. The experienced teachers on this website probably have plenty of interesting stories to relate.
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Re: Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

Postby momopi » Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:25 pm

Hero wrote:I'm a former Math professor thinking about getting an ESL certification and teaching in Asia. The problem is, I'm worried that I may face the same issues teaching English that I had teaching Math. That is, disrespectful, lazy and rude students that expect to be entertained all the time, and administrators who won't back you up if you have problem students. I hope the situation is different outside the U.S.


Check with Dave's ESL Cafe.
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Re: Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

Postby Jackal » Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:53 pm

Hero wrote:Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

Short answer: Yes!

Longer answer: It's challenging, but it's the complete opposite of a technical job. In a technical job, you generally know what you will be doing, but actually doing it is challenging. With teaching ESL, deciding exactly what to do and how to present it is the challenging part, but actually doing it (if you're not afraid of talking in front of a group of people) is usually fairly easy.

Everybody thinks, "Oh, teaching ESL isn't so hard: you just sort of walk in there and talk a bit for 45 minutes." But that's not the truth when teaching groups of students. Lessons which aren't planned will fall apart quickly and the students will switch off and ignore you. On the other hand, giving private lessons to fairly advanced students IS quite easy and often you can just walk in there and talk to them and correct their mistakes. But I think getting by on teaching only private lessons would be difficult to arrange.

The key mistake is thinking that a job will be easy just because it's not very intellectual. Hell, look at police officers. They certainly don't need much in the way of academic intelligence, but their job certainly isn't easy!

Hero wrote:I'm a former Math professor thinking about getting an ESL certification and teaching in Asia. The problem is, I'm worried that I may face the same issues teaching English that I had teaching Math. That is, disrespectful, lazy and rude students that expect to be entertained all the time, and administrators who won't back you up if you have problem students. I hope the situation is different outside the U.S.

I admit that I don't know much about you, but based on what seems to be your attitude in the paragraph above, I don't think you'd like it at all.

First of all, you have to realize that teaching languages is completely different than teaching math. When you're an English teacher, you're SUPPOSED to be entertaining. People learn languages better when they are interested in what they are learning. "Turn to page 83, and we will talk about the usage of the past participle" is not a good way to teach languages!

You need people skills and the ability to win students' respect. Once the students decide they like you, teaching them is usually quite pleasant. If they never like you, teaching them will always be difficult.

You also need lots of patience both with the students and with your foreign coworkers. Sometimes guys who are very smart get extremely impatient with ordinary people ("What?! You don't know what a differentiable manifold is? Go jump off a cliff, you partially-ciliated protozoan!"), but most ESL students are ordinary people! You have to drop the genius stuff and learn to connect with them as people if you are to succeed.
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Re: Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

Postby Hero » Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:56 pm

Jackal wrote:I admit that I don't know much about you, but based on what seems to be your attitude in the paragraph above, I don't think you'd like it at all.


You seem to think I have an attitude problem. If you'd ever taught American college students, you'd be more understanding. All I'm asking for is a little respect from my students. I don't think that's so unreasonable.
Also, I don't really mind dealing with people who are less intelligent than I am. What bothers me is students who are clueless but think they're brilliant and get mad at me when I tell them otherwise. I'll be damned if I'm going to let a student in my math class believe he's right when he says that 1+1=3, just so that his self-esteem doesn't suffer.
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Re: Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

Postby zboy1 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:43 am

Hero wrote:
Jackal wrote:I admit that I don't know much about you, but based on what seems to be your attitude in the paragraph above, I don't think you'd like it at all.


You seem to think I have an attitude problem. If you'd ever taught American college students, you'd be more understanding. All I'm asking for is a little respect from my students. I don't think that's so unreasonable.
Also, I don't really mind dealing with people who are less intelligent than I am. What bothers me is students who are clueless but think they're brilliant and get mad at me when I tell them otherwise. I'll be damned if I'm going to let a student in my math class believe he's right when he says that 1+1=3, just so that his self-esteem doesn't suffer.


Yeah, American students are really awful and disrespectful. I remember when I was in High School, some of the students really made the teacher's job impossible, i.e., acting up, cursing at the teacher, fighting in class, etc. I don't think you would have to worry about students in Asia though, they almost always seem respectful of their teachers. Teachers are actually looked up to in Asia unlike in the States. Just don't become one of those arrogant teachers that love to bully their students, I had this one teacher in High School who I would've loved to punch in his face because he was such a dick to everyone and hated by all of his students.
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Postby Free » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:32 pm

Very good post Jackal. Nice outline, many good realistic points and things less thought & talked about. Thanks.
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Re: Is it really so hard to teach English abroad?

Postby Hero » Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:57 pm

zboy1 wrote:Yeah, American students are really awful and disrespectful. I remember when I was in High School, some of the students really made the teacher's job impossible, i.e., acting up, cursing at the teacher, fighting in class, etc. I don't think you would have to worry about students in Asia though, they almost always seem respectful of their teachers. Teachers are actually looked up to in Asia unlike in the States. Just don't become one of those arrogant teachers that love to bully their students, I had this one teacher in High School who I would've loved to punch in his face because he was such a dick to everyone and hated by all of his students.


Don't worry, I've been the victim of enough bully teachers and managers to know that I shouldn't do it.

The day I get laid off from my job (and I know that day will come eventually) I'll start making plans to go abroad and teach.
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Postby Mr S » Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:38 pm

International schools are begging for native English speakers who are math majors. You don't need to teach ESL, you would make more money teaching math in an international school than ESL. Just make sure you are a certified teacher in your home state and you are good to go overseas. ESL is the lower end of teaching overseas. Science and Math majors who are native speakers are the cream of the crop. If you want to get a CELTA or TEFL to round yourself out you can but it's probably not necessary. Asian students are easy to deal with in comparison to American kids, its like night and day.

Just look up schools in the region your interested in and apply Just be aware of the typical school year. Usually schools start looking for teachers at the turn of the year:

http://www.state.gov/m/a/os/c1684.htm
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Postby Hero » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:07 am

Mr S wrote: Just make sure you are a certified teacher in your home state and you are good to go overseas.


Thanks but I don't think it's absolutely necessary to get certified in the USA. In any case there's no way I'm going to waste time with that B.S.
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teaching English overseas

Postby globaltesol » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:17 am

teaching English overseas is not a tough job if you think in positive way its a most interesting job to do as you can travel around the world learn new things you will become too much independent as well.
Global TESOL provide <a>TEFL TESOL certification online</a> or many other certifications to <a>teach English in India</a> and if you wanted to <a>teach English in Brazil</a> then there is TESOL online certification Is available for the same.
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