simon wrote:Hi Guys,
I recently posted these questions in the help-desk and Lucy was kind enough to answer some of the questions. But she suggested that I post it in the open forums so that i could get feedback from people with experience of teaching in China. So here goes.....
1. I'm very interested in traveling to China as an TEFL teacher. My eye was first caught by an ad on Google advertising a three-day TEFL course. This was at first appealing as the cost was fairly low. However, having surfed around the net a little, I get the impression that these condensed courses are not taken very seriously by all areas of the industry. Am I write in reaching this conclusion?
2. Having looked a little deeper it seems that TEFL (in terms of a certified qualification) is more of an umbrella term than a set level of qualification. It seems to me that an externally certified course such as CELTA would probably give me access to the widest range of teaching jobs. Is this correct?
3. I wont be ready to start a CELTA course for maybe six months, but in the meantime I'd like to prepare myself as much as possible. One of the books that has been recommended to me is English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy, are there any other books that you could recommend that would help me get the most out of the course?
4. As I have said, I'm very interested in teaching in China, would you advise traveling to China and seeking work in person or is it best to arrange a placement before leaving.
5. If I find work before leaving the UK is it normal practice for the school to arrange visas, accommodation etc. or is that down to me? Do schools ever contribute to airfare?
6. What is my best source for job opportunities in China? Is it best to approach schools directly, or are there agencies that will do this on my behalf?
7. I've read a few horror stories about accommodation, non-payment of salary etc. and I've seen a number of videos on YouTube (Mainly involving fairly young students) where the teachers role seems to be mainly centered around entertainment/containment. What is the best way to avoid this situation? Is there a direct route into teaching older students, possibly in universities?
I realise that there are quite a few questions here, but any help would be very gratefully accepted.
Simon (London UK)
Hi Simon, I've addressed some of your questions below. Hope it helps.
1. I’ve answered a very similar question in the TEFL Training Forum under Course Advice so I’m just posting it here again for you ref.:
You can find courses worth 40, 60, 80, 100 hrs. The general perception is that the less hours a course is worth the less is the value of the certificate. It’s got to be said though that employers rarely specify how many hrs a TESL/TEFL Certificate should be worth. What matters to them is that you are certified.
Personally I would recommend that more than the number of hrs attached to a certificate you look at the course content. Start by asking a few providers for their course syllabus and compare them. Check their tutors’ credentials. Make sure the course requires some actual work on your part and it is not based on “Yes or No” answers or “Read This Unit and Summarize It” type of coursework. Try and find out what other students who have taken the course say about it. Basically do as much research as you can.
You could start by taking a look at TEFLWatch
. This is a site where TESL/TEFL courses and course providers are independently reviewed and rated.
With regards to employers’ requirements these vary greatly according to where and at what level you wish to teach. It might be useful to contact a few schools where you’ like to work and ask them for their specific requirements.
2. CELTA is undoubtedly a popular qualification especially in Europe, but has far less clout in other parts of the world like Asia, for example.
It is a fairly intensive certificate program in terms of finance, workload and commitment, and a bit of an overkill if you are on a gap year or just trying out teaching for a while. Unless your intention is to remain within the ESL industry and build a career for yourself in this field then you could quite happily opt for a basic TESL/TEFL Certificate.
In most places the basic requirements for entry level teaching positions are a degree plus a TESL/TEFL certificate - not necessarily a CELTA.
Of course it depends on where you want to teach and at what level. Quality online TESL/TEFL Certificates are also widely accepted.
There are many good schools around the world that will happily accept TESL/TEFL Certificates issued by reputable organizations other than Cambridge, so you can shop around.
3. Take a look at the ELT Books
section in the ICALwiki.
5. Usually the school will provide a work permit. However, you will need to get a tourist or business visa before traveling to China. Many schools provide some sort of accommodation (often a room in a shared flat) and if the school doesn’t have any free housing to offer they will offer you some housing allowance.
As for getting there you could be offered either a flight allowance or have your round trip flight reimbursed upon expiry of your contract (one year long).
6. There are hundreds of language schools in China that advertise on the Net daily. Agencies also abound. Just do a quick online search and you’ll be spoilt for choice.