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Dave's ESL Cafe's Teacher Training Forum

Re: Looking to Switch Careers to ESL

Posted By: nomad soul
Date: Wednesday, 24 April 2013, at 2:23 p.m.

In Response To: Looking to Switch Careers to ESL (Keri)

I am 33 years old, a native Tennesseean, married with no children. I have a B.A. degree in History, but I have a strong background in English (meaning I was 1 class shy of having a creative writing minor). I have nearly 9 years of experience as a paralegal and have been laid off twice in 5 years. Yesterday I lost one of my part-time jobs. I told my husband that maybe it's a sign I need to do something else for a living.

I lived and worked in Ireland for a summer on a (non-teaching) work-abroad program in 2001 and loved it. (I have several other trips to the U.K. under my belt, too.) When I came back from Ireland, I wanted to teach English in Japan, but I had too much debt to afford to work overseas.

Now I have no debt, but also no job. (My husband is also unemployed at this time and can't even get any interviews.) So, I've been thinking about becoming an ESL teacher. I may consider teaching abroad (Japan, Israel, Europe/U.K.), but I think my husband would prefer to stay stateside at present. I would guess that places like Texas (a place we have already been considering) have a pretty big need for ESL teachers, given the immigrant population.

So, how does one start this process? I'm terrified of getting taken in by some diploma mill that will take my money and give me a certificate that no one will recognize. I know that there is no universally-accepted certificate, but I would like one that could get me teaching in the U.S. and have a reasonable chance of being accepted abroad.

I would prefer to teach adults, but would accept a position teaching children. Or maybe there's a niche market for business English that would be good for me, given my legal background? I can 'hitherto' and 'notwithstanding' with the best of them.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The TESL field in the US is very competitive; there are plenty of MA holders vying for positions that are limited in number and are often part-time (i.e., no benefits). Additionally, your BA isn't relevant to TESL and you have zero experience. And those TESL jobs in Texas usually require teachers be bilingual in Spanish/English as well as experienced. Check out educational jobs on craigslist in the cities you're interested in and you'll see there aren't any TESL opportunities for inexperienced teachers.

So where does that leave you? There are plenty of TEFL jobs outside the US for those with a BA. But first, you and hubby need to sit down and figure out what you want to do. If that means staying in the US, then your TESL prospects are lukewarm to downright cold. On the other hand, if, like so many other Americans, you're willing to head overseas for work, then you need to determine where you realistically can teach. Obviously, the UK has its own endless supply of teachers to choose from, so scratch it off your list. Most of Europe isn't open to Americans and other non-EU nationalities as well; employers have a supply of qualified Brits for those slots. And Israel doesn't seem to advertise for teachers from abroad---the TEFL market there is presumedly tight.

Asia is where most newbies go. There may be a market for business English teachers in China, but you'd still need to know how to teach this type of ESP domain. (By the way, no one teaches archaic, formal legal terms such as like 'hitherto" and "notwithstanding" in biz English courses.)

The point is, you can't be choosy in terms of where to land that first overseas TEFL job. Whatever the country, you'll see job ads requiring a TEFL qualification, while others do not. To maximize your chances of competing for the better jobs, consider getting an internationally-recognized EFL teaching qualification, preferably a CELTA or SIT TESOL. Avoid budget and/or online TEFL certs---they'll limit you and might just cost you more in the longrun.

It sounds like you and your husband need more info on TESL/TEFL and working overseas. I strongly suggest you head over to the ESL Cafe's job discussion forums and peruse the threads before posting your specific questions. There's a useful newbie forum in addition to country-specific forums.

Messages In This Thread

Looking to Switch Careers to ESL
Keri -- Tuesday, 23 April 2013, at 9:22 a.m.
Re: Looking to Switch Careers to ESL
nomad soul -- Wednesday, 24 April 2013, at 2:23 p.m.
Re: Looking to Switch Careers to ESL
Stephen -- Wednesday, 24 April 2013, at 11:12 a.m.
Re: Looking to Switch Careers to ESL
Global Teacher -- Thursday, 25 April 2013, at 2:30 p.m.
Re: Looking to Switch Careers to ESL
majeh -- Sunday, 28 April 2013, at 11:11 p.m.

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