Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Problem With Level Testing

From Teknobites
Many schools have started grouping students by levels and requiring them to take a level test first. While this seems to work pretty well at language schools it may backfire in schools and universities, especially when English is a required course.

Although you would think that people would try their best at level testing, some students deliberately choose the wrong answer so that they're put in a lower level. The idea behind this is that they can get an easy A. Some schools are starting to realise this and are using official tests, such as the Korean SATs, IELTS, or TOEFL, to group students. If your school does so level testing make sure to gauge students' levels the first few weeks of class and ask your director to move students out of your class if their level is too high.

NB: I'll be on vacation for July and August. New posts will be coming out in September.

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

How to Set Prices for Private Lessons

From VK
I previously wrote about how to get private students and how to teach private classes. I also wrote about the dangers of competing with other teachers on price. So how exactly do you decide how much to charge students? Here are some things to consider.

Level: Very high levels and very low levels of English often require a lot of prep and many teachers charge more because of this.

Student Age: Again, the money is in the opposite extreme. Very young kids and business people often pay more for private English classes.

Type of class: If it's general English you're going to be charging less than teachers who do exam prep or EAP for example. 

How often you meet per week: Some teachers give students discounts for multiple classes per week.

How long the classes are:  A teacher may charge 50 for an hour class and 90 for a two hour class.

Commuting time: I'm against charging more for students who live further away. You wouldn't ask your boss to pay you more because you have to travel further than your co-worker. If you don't want to travel too far simply don't accept the student.

If you're interested in earning more money by tutoring, here's a guide that will help you set up your tutoring business. 

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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Tips for Applying to Jobs Via Email

From Pop Sugar
Once you've got your CV and cover letter ready, it's time to shoot off an email, cross your fingers, and hope you get an interview. There are things you can do to better your chances to get an interview. Try these the next time you apply for jobs. Reddit also has some more tips.

Put all your docs into a PDF
There's nothing like having to attach 10+ docs to an email. It's not fun for you or the person getting the email. They have to download everything and it's easy to lose docs. Create one PDF and attach that to your email. Your cover letter, CV, and anything else they ask for should be in it. If you have a Mac it's pretty easy to do through Preview. If you have a PC you'll have to either buy software that allows you to create PDFs or try any one of the numerous websites out there that will do it for you. It looks much more professional to have a PDF doc and you don't have to worry about the other person not being able to open it or the formatting getting messed up.

Make a list of your documents you are attaching
I always, always list out exactly what docs are in the PDF that I attach. Having a list makes it easy for the person reading the email to make sure that you sent everything they asked for.

Limit the size of the attachments
Read the advert carefully. Many places won't accept files bigger than a certain size. Stay within that limit.

Follow directions
Again, read the advert carefully. Many times they will tell you to email one person if you have questions and email another if you want to apply. Don't email your app to the person you're supposed to email if you only have questions. Watch the deadline. Make sure to include all the docs. Be sure you fulfill the reqs, or almost fulfill them. Not following directions is a good way for your app to be deleted.

Put your info in the subject line
I always write my name, how many years of experience I have (either total or at that particular level, depending on the advert), my qualifications, and my visa status. It helps your email stand out and makes it easier to find if they need to.

Address the email to a specific person
Forget sir or madam or hiring committee. Find out who's hiring. Only use a generic greeting if the school you're applying to refuses to tell you who's in charge of hiring, which is always a possibility.

If you're not job searching you should still be networking. Check out how to write a networking email that gets results for more info.

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Advantages to Teaching English Online

From Teach English online
Many teachers look into teaching English online as a way to supplement their teaching salaries. I put together a comprehensive list of schools that need online English teachers as well as which ones I think are the best to work for. First you'll have to decide whether to work for a company or teach on your own. There are many advantages to teaching English online. The list below has been adapted from Dave's.
  • Extra money.
  • You get paid the same no matter where you live.
  • Many classes are 1-to-1 so you can customise your classes and get to know your students.
  • You can work with students from all over the world.
  • It's convenient. You don't have to commute and can work from anywhere.
  • There's little paperwork involved.
  • The future of learning is online.
  • If your visa won't allow you to work at another school, this is kind of a grey area to do so legally.
If it sounds like something you're interested, you should read how to teach English online.

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Into The World

The following post is from a guest blogger, DS Peters.

As we are now well into the 21st century, ideas of isolationism are as outdated as the rotary phone. Although xenophobia still clings to society like a rotting corpse, our success and happiness (and in some ways our very existence) now depend on pluralism and exposure to the life and ideas from faraway places. Not that there are any “faraway” places anymore, thanks to our planetary communications system (i.e. the Internet). The world is right there waiting for you to become acquainted with it. And since the economies of the world have become irrevocably intertwined, it is in the best interests of everyone to experience firsthand some of the societies coexisting outside our own national boundaries.

First, let us explore, explain, and cast out the negative aspects of this endeavor. Fear is a very large obstacle for many, however fear can be minimized with knowledge and by taking a few important steps. Social networking is perhaps the greatest resource for the traveler, as other expats and travelers create websites and Facebook pages dedicated to assisting each other. Open your web browser and search for nearly any city you are considering along with the word “expat” and you will find a few pages to connect you with people who are already living in that city. You will not be alone in your travels, unless you purposely try to be. The other negative is, of course, culture shock.

Culture shock is becoming a more ambiguous phrase with every international experience we read and write. We can find lists of symptoms of culture shock, and some of the items on these lists are absurd. For example, feeling sad, lonely, shy, insecure, vulnerable, lost, and/or confused are all listed as symptoms. Of course a person living in a culture quite different to the one they grew up in would feel these things, however I experienced all of these feelings when I moved from the Midwest to New York City for grad school. So these are not symptoms of culture shock as much as they are simply the feelings we might experience in moving to any new place. The so-called physical symptoms of culture shock also exist in a grey area, and if a person is experiencing headaches, allergies, insomnia (or its opposite), then that person should visit a doctor since all of these could be caused by a change in diet or factors in their physical environment. However, idealizing ones own culture, or becoming obsessed with the host-culture, or feeling homesickness, or questioning their decision to move in the first place… All of these are truly issues that most expats or travelers experience.

Again, obtaining as much prior knowledge as possible can help lessen these feelings, although most of these feelings are rather natural. Of course we are going to compare our birth-culture to our new host-culture, just as some will attempt to adapt to and fit-in and might become completely obsessed with their new society. And feeling homesickness and wondering what insanity made us move in the first place also are natural. However, the idea is to be as objective as possible in our comparisons, and in the things we miss. And like most things dealing with emotions and the human mind, there are useful tricks we can employ to help us.

Before you leave your home on your adventure, make 3 lists. On the first list, write down all the reasons why you are going in the first place. On the second list, relate everything you wish to accomplish while you are abroad. And on the third list, take your time and honestly write all the things you dislike about your home-country. Before leaving the US 4 years ago, I never made these lists, however once I began to experience rather poignant feelings of negativity towards the place where I now live, I wrote down all the reasons why I moved my family to a foreign land on the other side of the planet. This list contained all the aspects of the US I would change if I could, all the things I did not miss, all the problems I experienced in work and in society at-large. After making this list and consigning it to memory, whenever I would jump to criticize an aspect of my new home, this list would be right there for comparison.

And yes, at times I would decide that the US is quite more adept at certain things than this other society (building logical roadways and freeways is one that springs to mind), but all the other reasons for leaving the US were right there to temper my criticism. At other times, I would find my new home to be quite original and more thoughtful in their planning (widespread and inexpensive WiFi, for example).

So now that we have cleared away our fear and minimized our culture shock, that just leaves one important question to answer: Why? JFK once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” If we are to adapt to this new and ever-changing world, if we are to become positive contributors and participants rather than mere spectators or detractors, then we must first become one with the changes in the world, or become the change we wish to see in the world. Moving either temporarily or permanently to a new country might seem rather drastic, however that is our archaic conventionalities speaking. The idea that it is somehow pleasantly quaint to be born, live, and die in the same town is one now meant only for historical movies. Again, isolationism is a fetid swamp, a place where the poisons of xenophobia and nationalism are born, and nothing productive can come from such a swamp.

Our economic futures lie in the world market, and we must know the intricacies of this market in order to survive in it. There are obvious professions that can benefit from international experience, such as teaching, politics, marketing, manufacturing, banking, etc. However, there is also a benefit to be gleaned by people in positions where ties to the international community are not so easily visible. Varied experience is what drives innovation, and innovation is what is needed… or rather required in all fields.

And so it is time now to expand your borders and to expand your mind. Otherwise, you will be left behind by a worldwide society that mirrors the universe itself, by rapidly expanding and increasing in speed at every moment. Cast your fears and doubts aside, and search until you find that place that is in fact searching for you.

Author's Bio
DS Peters earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, and obtained his BA from UW-Milwaukee. He writes speculative fiction, earthbound fiction, poetry, and odd bits of non-fiction. He is a traveler, and currently resides in South Korea where he works as a professor and observes human behavior.You can find him on his website DS Peters.

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