Good 'partner' language to learn

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steerpike
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Joined: 25 Jan 2019, 08:54
Status: Trainee Teacher

Good 'partner' language to learn

Unread post by steerpike » 25 Jan 2019, 10:17

Hi,

I'm an IT professional who is undertaking a TEFL course with a view to arming myself with something else as a possible future, alternative career path. I have a BA Degree in English Literature FWIW.

I love language learning though I am not fluent in any other language than English. My commitments in the UK would bind me to either teaching from the UK or doing short term assignments in Europe. I understand this limits my employability greatly but I thought the course would, if nothing else, be interesting and would improve my grammar!

I'd like to learn a new language and become as fluent as possible. I'd like to pick one which might help my employability aligned with the TEFL course. I am open minded about which language but am struggling to choose one. I love both Spanish and Italian. However, I see lots of Polish IT workers coming to the UK and I love Poland as a country though I appreciate this is a tough language to learn!

I wondered if there were any thoughts on this in general and/or if there was anywhere I could look at trends in terms of demand for English Language teachers. I get that there would be greater scope for me if I were to learn, say, Mandarin but unfortunately, I can't be placed in China.

Then of course, Brexit is a factor that must be considered - but where that is going is anyone's guess.

Briona
Top Contributor
Posts: 199
Joined: 29 Jul 2009, 20:33
Status: Teacher

Re: Good 'partner' language to learn

Unread post by Briona » 26 Jan 2019, 07:08

Hi there,
steerpike wrote:
25 Jan 2019, 10:17
My commitments in the UK would bind me to either teaching from the UK or doing short term assignments in Europe. I understand this limits my employability greatly...
First things first, if you intend to teach in the UK, an online TEFL course won't cut it. You need to have taken a face-to-face intensive course, such as the Celta or Trinity CertTESOL, i.e., courses which include a minimum of 6hrs of observed and assessed teaching practice with real students. (Note that the weekend/classroom-based element of an online/blended TEFL course will not suffice as it involves "teaching" your fellow trainees as opposed to real students). That said, thanks to declining numbers of overseas students, the market is shrinking. The few language academy jobs there are are badly-paid, and often zero-hours. Furthermore, employers tend to prefer teachers who have higher qualifications (Delta, relevant Master's) and bags of overseas experience.
steerpike wrote:
25 Jan 2019, 10:17
Then of course, Brexit is a factor that must be considered - but where that is going is anyone's guess.
Europe, too, is no longer a given, thanks to Brexit. But ignoring Brexit for now, it's worth noting that there are very few temporary assignments. Employers want people who will stay for the duration of the academic year (typically Sept/Oct through to June). While there are plenty of summer camp jobs (at least in Spain and Italy), they typically require you to do a lot more than teaching, and are very badly paid. Moreover, the jobs will usually go to people who already have the required paperwork, e.g., to work in Spain, you need a NIE (foreigner's tax identification number), a social security number, and a Spanish bank account. And that's without jumping through whatever hoops Brexit presents. If you need a visa, forget it.
steerpike wrote:
25 Jan 2019, 10:17
I'd like to learn a new language and become as fluent as possible. … I love both Spanish and Italian.
The easiest languages for native English-speakers to learn are either those from the same root (Dutch and German), or the Romance languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and, to a lesser extent, Romanian).
steerpike wrote:
25 Jan 2019, 10:17
I'd like to pick one which might help my employability aligned with the TEFL course.
I would not advise choosing a language with a view to improving your employability in TEFL for two reasons. First, as EFL teachers, we are expected to teach through English rather than relying on the students' L1. Secondly, if you were teaching in the UK, you would be teaching students with a range of L1s, so knowing Spanish, for example, would not make you more desirable as a teacher, or make it easier to teach Arabic/Hindi/Polish/Farsi/Russian learners.
steerpike wrote:
25 Jan 2019, 10:17
I wondered if there were any thoughts on this in general and/or if there was anywhere I could look at trends in terms of demand for English Language teachers.
The market is constantly changing, so it's impossible to say where the greatest demand will be in the future. I've been teaching for nine years now and have seen doors that were once open, e.g., being able to teach in China without a BA, closed. Who's to say what will happen in another nine years?
steerpike wrote:
25 Jan 2019, 10:17
I get that there would be greater scope for me if I were to learn, say, Mandarin but unfortunately, I can't be placed in China.
I wouldn't automatically write off Mandarin on those grounds. The number of students coming from China to study at UK universities is increasing year on year (http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/20180 ... 89551.html. However, to teach at a UK university, you would need to have higher qualifications and at least a couple of years' overseas experience. An online TEFL certificate and little to no experience wouldn't even get you an interview.

My advice would be to choose a language that interests you. Language learners make greater progress when they are intrinsically motivated to learn, that is, the motivation to learn said language comes from them as opposed to coming from external sources (parents, schools, jobs, etc.).

Hope that helps, and if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Briona
Experience teaching in Vietnam, Portugal, Poland, Spain, the UK, and Qatar

steerpike
Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 25 Jan 2019, 08:54
Status: Trainee Teacher

Re: Good 'partner' language to learn

Unread post by steerpike » 26 Jan 2019, 09:04

Hi Briona,

Thank you so much for the detailed response; very informative. I've come to realise that a 50 hour online TEFL course is not a fast route to a job teaching English Language. I'm happy now to see it as a potential first step.

I take what you say about homing in on a 'partner language'. I think you're right - I need to find a language I like and learn that as it will be beneficial in its own right.

You've also confirmed that experience counts; I guess that's a given but perhaps more so in this field than others.

I'm exploring many avenues of potential work at the moment to escape from the world of IT but that's not to underestimate how tough it can be doing TEFL as a career. It sounds like a very tough market at the moment. I just feel I would have an aptitude for it; it was always my strongest subject at school and I have enjoyed teaching others in my current field in a 'classroom' type environment. Again, this is a bit reductive as I know that each age group/culture brings its own unique challenges and being a good teacher is a finely honed skill.

I happen to live in a small city with a large independent school which has many Chinese students. Perhaps there is an avenue/foot in the door there.

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