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Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Best TEFL Jobs in Romania

Here's the information for Romania for The Best TEFL Jobs in the World. You might also want to look at Europe for non-EU passport holders and The Best TEFL Jobs With Worldwide Employers.    

If you know of any other good ones, please let me know by emailing me at

Here's a tongue in cheek review of the TEFL market in Romania and Bulgaria by Alex Case at TEFLtastic. 
  1. Key English: Run by Mike Waters, an Irish expat who's lived in Romania for a number of years.

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Online vs On-site TEFL courses

The main problem with online certs is that there is no practice teaching component, but things are starting to change. Cambridge has recently come out with the online CELTA. You do most of the work online, and then have an on-site component composed of observation and teaching practice. Not all TEFL courses are created the same. Take a look at how to choose a TEFL course for more info.

TEFL Course Basics
The following information has been taken from Wall Street Institute.
  • At least 120 hours over 4 weeks or more
  • At least 6 hours teaching practice with real students
  • Trainers should have a degree, a TEFL cert (preferrably a diploma), and at least 8 years teaching experience in 2 different countries.
  • Exams should be oral, written, and teaching
  • The curriculum should cover: grammar, methods, phonetics, classroom management, activities, use at least 3 different textbooks, practice with audio and visual aids, introduce international exams or Business English.

On-site Courses
The advantages of taking an on-site course are that you can take a course in the country you're interested in teaching in. By doing this, you can learn a little about the area and jobs available. In addition, your trainers will probably have experience in that country. Moreover by taking an on-site course you can interact with your fellow trainees.

The drawbacks are the time and expense. Not everyone has a month or so to take off work and study. In addition to the cost of the course, you're going to have to take into account lost wages. Then there's the whole matter of actually getting there, as well as food and accomodation.

Online Courses
The biggest advantage is the convenience. You can literally study anywhere in the world. You can work at your own pace too. These courses are often cheaper than on-site courses.

The drawback is the fact that it's online. Many employers view online courses as being a step down from on-site courses. This holds true for online masters degrees as well. Since it's online it's often perceived as being easier. Additionally, many online courses don't have a practical teaching component. It's like getting your license without ever having driven a car before.

So Which is Best?
Honestly, most people agree that an onsite course is the best, however, not everyone is able to take onsite courses. With that being said an online course is better than no TEFL cert at all. As mentioned above CELTA now has an online course. Since they also have a practical teaching component their online course is just as good as their on-site one.

Want to Take an Online Course?
Many employers will give you a raise if you have a TEFL cert and sometimes an online course is the only option. If you go that route, make sure they have a practical teaching section. They should also have 120 hours with 6 hours of teaching practice.

They should also offer lots of support and tutor feedback if you need it, in the form of email, skype, or phone calls. At the beginning of the course they should give you a clear syllabus to let you know what direction the course will take. Make sure they use a good online format.

Free Courses
If you don't have the money for a course at the moment, check out these free options. 

In Summary
You really should get a cert and on-site ones are the best, followed by online ones with a teaching component, and finally online ones without a teaching component. It's only fair to your students that they have a teacher who knows what they're talking about. If you can't get a TEFL cert there are other ways to learn about teaching. Try reading is a TEFL cert necessary? to find out more

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Hot Topic: What To Do When Schools Hold Your Documents Hostage

More common in some countries than others (Saudi anyone?) is holding documents hostage. Some say that it’s to protect the teacher since their documents are in safe keeping. Others say it’s to protect the school since if they have your documents you can’t pull a runner. Whatever the case, more often than not it is illegal. This is especially this case when it’s your passport.

Passports are government property. Schools have to right to hold them. If a school wants documentation tell them you will give them a notarised copy. If you still have trouble, tell your school that you have to report them to your embassy. If that doesn’t make them give you your passport back then make good on your threat.

Other documents that they typically hold are your diplomas and certificates. Some places do need these at the beginning when your visa is being processed. They are just verifying that they are true and may have to show them at the immigration office. You usually get them back after the visa process is fined and you have your resident card. Other places aren’t too nice. Sure, they’ll tell you that you’ll get your documents back as soon as your paperwork is processed, but then they’ll refuse to give them to you. They’ll state it’s their policy to keep teachers documents until they leave the school. This is dishonest (since they said they’ll give them back) and deceptive (since they knew you’d agree to hand them over if they promised to give them back).

If this happens, pull the illegal card and say they have no right to have your documents. They are yours, not theirs. If that doesn’t work, say that you will report them to your embassy. In all honesty, the embassy probably won’t be able to help you, but the threat alone may be enough to get your documents back. If that doesn’t work call every place you know who may be able to help: the Labour Office, foreigner offices, or immigration. Another idea is to get the press involved. Tell them that you will call the newspapers and let them know what they’re doing. Getting other people involved is usually the extreme. More often than not threats of getting people involved are all that’s need. However, if push comes to shove and you need your docs back, do everything you can do get them. However, you have to realise that once you have them back you might not have a job anymore though. You will have to make a choice and choose what’s more important to you.

The lesson to be learnt is that you shouldn’t hand over originals. If they want originals, bring the originals and copies of the originals. If they won’t accept your copies, have them make their own copies, with you standing over the copy machine. If that’s not good enough, give them notarised copies of originals. If they say that they need the originals say that you cannot give them your original documents. Say that you will go to immigration with them and present your documents. If they keep asking for your originals, then you have to choose whether to hand them over or not. Copies seem to work in most situations. Always keep in mind that whenever you hand your original documents over you run the risk of not getting them back or getting them back in poor condition, such as folded, stamped, ripped, or written on.

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Friday, 11 July 2014

Hot Topic: Schools Should Not Require Office Hours

Office hours aka "desk warming time" is a hot topic amongst TEFL teachers. Many TEFL teachers don't use office hours productively either and can be often found lurking on Facebook, Waygook, Dave's ESL Cafe, Raoul's China Saloon, Ajarn, or any of the other websites for TEFL teachers around the world. Some teachers would rather accept a lower paying job rather than desk warm.

ESLCafeLatte sums it up nicely here. 
"4. Duties- Asking faculty to do things for "free", that is to come in for events or tasks or meetings beyond their contracted hours, is to diminish the worth of a highly educated instructor pool. It is petty and demeaning, again, rather like Walmart. Beyond that, demanding that faculty "log in" when they arrive and leave is an anathema in academe. Teaching hours and a reasonable commitment to office hours are all that professors and instructors ought to be accountable for. These are posted on office doors, web-sites, and on the syllabus. Students and the administration can reach any employee by cell-phone or email, just like the rest of the world does.?

What Other Teachers Think
mashkif also has something to say about it. 
?Faculty members of a higher education institution are not regular service-sector workers whose productivity and value are measured by the amount of time they sojourn at a desk or behind a counter. Other than interfacing with their students (formally in the class or in individual conferences during office hours) and attending departmental/institutional engagements, there is absolutely no reason for faculty to sit behind their desks for a specified period of time. Period.

By insisting on mandatory working hours, you are basically making faculty justify their salaries. But you are also creating a workforce that is resentful and disloyal. Mandatory working hours are NOT the norm in higher education. And the reason they're not the standard is that every half-decent institution recognizes that it would be counterproductive to make them such. By forcing such a ridiculous practice on faculty, you end up with people who despise you and your institution, and who are unhappy with their jobs."

My take on office hours
There seem to be two reasons for office hours and I disagree with both of them.

Reason 1. Students, staff, and admin have to be able to reach you.
Rebuttal: Let's wake up and smell the coffee, very little of that communication has to take place in person. I'm going to go out an a limb here and say that most people do not want to meet with you in person because they feel that their English level isn't good enough and they'll be afraid to make mistakes. Most of the communication I have had with students, staff, and admin has been through technology: emails, texts, kakaotalk, and phone calls. Very rarely will someone come to my office unless I tell them they have to.

Reason 2: You have to be able to plan your classes.
Rebuttal: I can't even believe that in this day and age people think this is a logic argument. Depending on your office evironment it might be next to impossible to get any work done. When I worked in an open plan office with over a dozen teachers, the teachers' room was always buzzing. It was a great atmosphere for socialising, but pretty hard to get an serious work done. If you have a shared office or your own office, it'll be quieter and you can get work done. However, if you're like many teachers, when you're not in class you need a bit of downtime. I can also work at home if I need to. That's not an issue.

Having a few office hours a week seem to be ok. By few I mean 2-3. However, so many schools require a heck of a lot more. They'll say that you only have to teach 15-20 hours a week, but neglect to tell you that you-ll be spending up to 20 hours a week desk warming, erm, I mean doing office hours.

Office hours can be useful. I know plenty of people who have used their time wisely and gotten a master degree, TEFL diploma, studied a language, or done something worthwhile with their time. Most teachers don't do this though.

Other places use "office hours" as an excuse for you to be their slave. They'll have you proofread and edit gibberish until you pull your hair out, give placement tests to students, meet with admin, etc. The problem with this is that office hours aren't meant for this. Office hours are meant for you to do what you have to do, whether that be plan classes, grade, create tests, or meet with your students.

Bottom line: if schools are going to require office hours, they shouldn't require too many nor should they fill up your office hours with things they want you to do. There are much better ways schools can motivate teachers.

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