Am I being realistic?

Discussion about courses, qualifications etc

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MikeUK
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Joined: 06 Mar 2018, 21:06
Status: Prospective Teacher

Am I being realistic?

Unread post by MikeUK » 06 Mar 2018, 22:22

Hi. I'm after some feedback please from those who're already working in TEFL. I'm in my mid 40s, I've spent 20+ years working as a journalist / writer mostly at a national level, I've gained a Level 4 PTTLS qualification (basic teacher training for further education), and I've amassed 1200+ hours' classroom experience (working with adult learners). I'm passionate about the English language and helping others, however on the downside I don't have a degree (I never bothered) and I'm not in a position where I can take four weeks off work to study a Celta or Tesol course (which I understand are the two main starter qualifications).

In two years' time, my plan is to go travelling for 12 / 18 months in both Europe and South America, and to gain a TEFL qualification in advance in the UK that is recognised in both regions (or at least one or the other) with a view to picking up bits of work along the way (I'm thinking more for the experience than for the money at this stage). Am I being realistic? Is there a genuine qualification that is perhaps halfway between a Celta / Tesol gold standard and the bargain basement online study courses that are two a penny? Will my existing career / PTLLS qualification / teaching experience count for anything overseas? Will my lack of degree work against me (I'm guessing more so in Europe), even though I've enjoyed a long career in a professional field?

Many thanks in advance, Mike.

Briona
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Joined: 29 Jul 2009, 20:33
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Re: Am I being realistic?

Unread post by Briona » 07 Mar 2018, 13:02

Hi there, and welcome to the forum,
MikeUK wrote:
06 Mar 2018, 22:22
I don't have a degree (I never bothered)...
While a degree is fast becoming a requirement to teach in many parts of the world, it is still possible to find work in both Europe and South America without one. So I wouldn't worry too much on that front.
MikeUK wrote:
06 Mar 2018, 22:22
...and I'm not in a position where I can take four weeks off work to study a Celta or Tesol course (which I understand are the two main starter qualifications).
There are, however, two other obstacles you'd need to overcome. First, all reputable employers in Europe, and many in South America, will insist on you having a recognised TEFL qualification such as the Celta or Trinity CertTESOL. This is because both courses include a minimum of 6hrs of observed and assessed teaching practice with real students, which is something employers look for. Note that the weekend/classroom-based element of an online/blended TEFL course is not the same thing as you 'teach' your fellow trainees. That said, online TEFL qualifications are accepted by a number of employers, and if they accept one, they'll accept them all.
MikeUK wrote:
06 Mar 2018, 22:22
In two years' time, my plan is to go travelling for 12 / 18 months in both Europe and South America, and to gain a TEFL qualification in advance in the UK that is recognised in both regions (or at least one or the other) with a view to picking up bits of work along the way (I'm thinking more for the experience than for the money at this stage). Am I being realistic?
The other issue you'll have is duration. Contrary to popular opinion, TEFL and travel do not go hand in hand. Instead, employers, especially in Europe, are looking for teachers who will commit to staying for an academic year (typically nine or ten months from Sept/Oct through to June). The peak hiring time in Europe is in September for a mid- to late-Sept or early Oct start, and there's a smaller hiring peak in very early January to replace teachers who jumped ship at Xmas. However, even that would require you to commit to staying on until the end of the academic year in June. I believe the academic year in South America starts in February, but you'd need to check that as it's not a market I've ever been interested in and have therefore not researched.
MikeUK wrote:
06 Mar 2018, 22:22
...I've gained a Level 4 PTTLS qualification (basic teacher training for further education), and I've amassed 1200+ hours' classroom experience (working with adult learners). I'm passionate about the English language and helping others, however on the downside I don't have a degree (I never bothered) and I'm not in a position where I can take four weeks off work to study a Celta or Tesol course (which I understand are the two main starter qualifications).
To maximise your chances of finding work, you will need to invest in a TEFL qualification of sorts. Ideally this would be a Celta or equivalent, which you could do in your preferred location at the start of your travels. If that's not an option, you should invest in an online TEFL course with a minimum duration of 120hrs (as that's the industry standard) - anything less is not worth the paper it's written on. You should then design your CV so all prior teaching qualifications and experience are highlighted.
MikeUK wrote:
06 Mar 2018, 22:22
Will my existing career / PTLLS qualification / teaching experience count for anything overseas? Will my lack of degree work against me (I'm guessing more so in Europe), even though I've enjoyed a long career in a professional field?
EFL teachers are ten-a-penny these days, but EFL teachers with teachable skills from their previous careers continue to be in demand. As a journalist, your writing expertise is a big plus, so try looking for jobs which require you to improve students' writing skills. You may also be able to deliver short courses on journalism skills, which is something the average EFL teacher wouldn't be able to do.

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

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

MikeUK
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Joined: 06 Mar 2018, 21:06
Status: Prospective Teacher

Re: Am I being realistic?

Unread post by MikeUK » 09 Mar 2018, 08:38

Hi Briona. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. That's exactly the sort of constructive feedback I was hoping for :) Have a great day. Regards, Mike

Jasper44
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Joined: 05 Feb 2018, 14:58
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Re: Am I being realistic?

Unread post by Jasper44 » 20 Mar 2018, 16:54

Mike,
If you're interested in Latin America then you could consider doing what I did: an online course via a Canadian organisation, followed by a one-week teaching practicum including 10 hours of observed teaching with an organisation/language school in Guadalajara, Mexico (which I think you might find quite enjoyable in its own particular way). That should set you up for a range of jobs. If you need the details please let me know.
Jasper

tortillas
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Joined: 03 Apr 2018, 04:28
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Re: Am I being realistic?

Unread post by tortillas » 03 Apr 2018, 05:58

Hi. I'd be interested in some more details on the Guadalajara practicum. Thanks!

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