Monday, 31 October 2011

Cool Link: iteslj

The Internet TESL Journal or iteslj has been around since 1995.  They don't have a snazzy website; it's pretty basic but they do have good information. It's a well-known journal so getting an article published there would be a nice thing to put on your CV.  In addition to articles, they have lesson plans, questions, games, things for teachers, and links to other sites.

The only problem is that it hasn't been updated since fall 2010. I'm not sure if they're taking a break or have stopped updating for good. Either way, there's heaps of information worth checking out on iteslj.


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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hot Topic: Diploma or Masters?

There seems to be a good deal of discussion about which is better: a diploma or masters degree.  In reality both are good, however, they're suited for different jobs.  Many people will agree that a diploma focuses more on practical skills and a masters is more focused on theory.

They also seem to be suited for different jobs.  Those with diplomas often go on to teach in institutes, schools, or international schools.  Those will masters degrees often teach in universities and may have their sights set on a PhD or EdD.

What do you think?
Which one are you planning on getting next?  How will it help you career-wise?


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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Cool Link: TLS Books

TLS Books has free worksheets related to ESL, EFL, as well as subjects such as Math, Geography, and History. The worksheets are aimed at children aged preschool to sixth grade. Young learners can be challenging to teach but these worksheets make lesson planning much easier. They also have a section for teachers with flashcards, links, and book reviews. In addition they have colouring pages and a section with games.

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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Quick Tip: Get Business Cards

Whether you want to network in order to get a job, teach private students, or just want people to know who you are, then you need to get business cards.

Many employers will give them to you for free or have them printed very cheaply with the school logo on it as well as your information in the country's language. 

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Cool Link: Everything ESL

Everything ESL is written by a teacher with over 3 decades of experienced teaching ESL.  It's a well organised site complete with lesson plans, teaching tips, resources, as well as a Q and A section. There's heaps of information on this site that's worth looking into.


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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Hot Topic:Is it Too Easy to Become a TEFL Teacher?

I'm sure you've heard of the backpacker teacher, the dancing white monkey or being able to get a job provided you have a pulse.  In part people are right, TEFL teachers aren't taken as seriously as we should and that's partly due to the fact that it's too easy to get a job.

In places like China, many employers will hire you as long as you have a valid passport.  Some want you to be native English speakers and have a degree, but that's changing too.  Teachers complain about low pay, few benefits, and lack of respect, yet don't take their job seriously enough to get a higher degree or attend conferences.

What do you think?
Is it too easy for TEFL teachers to get teaching jobs?  Should employers have higher expectations?

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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Cool Link: English for Everyone

English for Everyone has tons of free printables that you can use in your class.  From phonics to the 4 skills and more complicated topics such as pronunciation and paragraph correction they have it all.  They even have seasons, US citizenship, and fun crossword puzzles.  Some of the material is similar to that on English Maven because of their affiliation, but there is still a lot of new material that you can find here.

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Friday, 21 October 2011

Quick Tip: Attend Conferences

You've been told that networking is key and one of the easiest ways to network is to attend conferences and workshops.  Not only will you learn about the latest topics and new teaching methods, but you'll also get the chance to hand out your business cards, meet new people or even have a job interview.

After the conference don't forget to follow up with the people you meet.  You might want to send them a quick email or use Linkedin.com to keep in contact with them.  Remember, you never know who will tell you about your next job.  It could be your friend's cousin's boss, so network like crazy!

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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cool Link: English Zone

English Zone is packed full of useful material for English teachers. True to their name they've got different zones on their site, such as grammar, idioms, reading, spelling, verbs, writing, fun stuff, vocabulary, and much more. They also have free worksheets as well as links to other sites that might help you out.  The teacher zone has some good material, such as rubrics. It is well organised and has lots of good tips, tricks, and material, so it's definitely worth checking out.

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hot Topic: Personal Questions at Interviews

Politically correctness doesn't seem to be very important in a lot of overseas interviews. You may be asked if you're married or why you're not married, if you have kids or when you plan on having kids, or how long you plan on staying in the country.

While some people feel uncomfortable about answering personal questions, others have gotten used to them. Some teachers even go so far as putting a lot of their personal information on their CV. They know that they'll be asked those questions at the interview. Here are some tips on how you should answer personal questions.

What do you think?
Should employers be allowed to ask personal questions at interviews?  Should teachers put their personal information on their CVs?

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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Cool Link: English Maven

English Maven has free English lessons and exercises, such as verb tenses to exercises to games. The list they have on the left is worth checking out as there are basic ideas, such as "ed" word endings and subject / predicate to more advanced concepts, like US Citizenship and homonyms. Some of the material is similar to that on English for Everyone because of their affiliation, but there is still a lot of new material.

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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Quick Tip: Reference Letters

Too often than not people wait until the last minute to get reference letters. Time has passed and their boss might have moved on, or forgotten a lot about what you did, or simply not have time to write a reference letter.

Before leaving your job you should get a couple of reference letters then and there from your boss and supervisors. Get a couple copies of each letter if possible.

If you want a reference letter for a specific job, tell your boss where you're applying, otherwise ask them to write a general letter.   Here are some items that are usually included.
  • Write the letter on professional letterhead with the name of the institution at the top.
  • How you know me, ex. employer, students, etc.
  • Include job title (mine and yours)
  • What I did and when.
  • Why I am a good candidate for the position.
  • Any additional responsibilities: workshops, newsletters, level coordinator, student placement, etc.
  • Should include contact information (address, phone, and email).
  • Sign using ink. Don't just type your name.
  • Stamp it with the school's stamp.
  • Date it.
Remember to get your boss' contact info, such as phone number and email. Email is very important as they might move or change jobs. Keeping in touch is very important. No one wants to hear from someone after years only to be asked to help out. Touch base once in a while and let them know what's going on.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Cool Link: Famous People Lessons

Famous People Lessons is a great way to link history with TEFL.  It was created by Sean Banville and he has a couple of other websites, Breaking News English is one of them, about teaching English as well. There are people from around the world so you can teach your students about a wide variety of cultures as well.

There  are a wide variety of exercises such as reading, matching, fill in the blank, choose the correct word, spelling, ordering, scrambled sentences, discussions, writing, surveys, as well as homework exercises and answers. You could pick and choose which exercises you want to work with or use them all over the course of a week or a month.

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Monday, 10 October 2011

ESL EFL Roadshow: Succeeding Abroad

TEFL Newbie is hosting this month's ESL EFL Roadshow this month. There are lots of experience, tips, and ideas to help ESL and EFL teachers out. This month's topic is Succeeding Abroad. You can read more at TEFL Newbie.

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Sunday, 9 October 2011

Hot Topic: Medical Checks

It's becoming more and more common for countries to require teachers to get medical checks. It's not just teachers who need checks, but people wanting to get resident visas are often required to get checks as well. You are often asked to fill out a form asking you questions about depression, drug use, or contagious diseases.

You'll have to see a doctor or two as well. Eye test, hearing test, chest x-ray, blood test, urine test, height, weight, blood pressure, EKG, and ultrasounds are usually required. Some countries have you go through all of these, some, or even more. If results come back positive, you will often be required to leave the country. For more info about blood tests and travel visit  HIV Travel, you'll find info there are tourist and work visas.

Some teachers don't like this and think that it's an invasion of privacy. Others feel targeted as they state that the country doesn't require medical checks for other people, just for English teachers.

Others feel that the checks are fair and say that if teachers don't like them, they can go to other countries where they're not required. Plus, it lets the insurance company know if you have any medical problems. Others still say that they're good because they keep out bad English teachers.

What do you think?
Should English teachers be required to get medical checks?  Did you need one for your visa?

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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Cool Link: Perfect English Grammar

Perfect English Grammar is great for teachers as well as students. They have a variety of information on grammar. You can learn about verb tenses, do some practice exercises, or get tips on how to learn English.

From simple tenses to more complex ones such as reported speech, passive voice, gerunds and infinitives and modals, you can find it all at Perfect English Grammar. There are also a number of good English grammar guides that are worth checking out.


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Friday, 7 October 2011

Quick Tip: Update Your CV

Your CV is your key to getting your foot in the door and finding your perfect job. Too many people only update their CV when they're job hunting. This is a big mistake. 

Everytime you do some type of professional development, such as attend a workshop or conference, give a workshop, get published, join an affiliation, complete a short course or masters degree, you need to update your CV. In addition, if you get new responsiblities at work like having to give placement tests to students or create a curriculum, that should go on your CV as well.

Even if you don't do any professional development or get new responsibilities at work you should still take your CV out once a year and update it to see if there's anything you can add or info that you should take away. There are lots of great guides out there with CV tips and tricks to help you write an amazing CV. While you're at it, don't forget to update your cover letter as well!

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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Poll Results September 2011: How do you get to work?

Question: How do you get to work?
  • Walk 44% with 12 votes
  • Car 22% with 6 votes
  • Bus 15% with 4 votes
  • Bike %11 with 3 votes
  • Subway 4% with 1 vote
  • Trolley 4% with 1 vote
  • Train and Tram 0%

October's poll: Who do you teach? Be sure to vote now!

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cool Link: ESL Lounge

ESL Lounge has two different levels on their site: free and subscription.  The free section will give you access to the basics and the subscription will allow you access to extra things, such as PDF lessons, flashcards, Business English and more.

The site has activities arranged by levels ranging from beginners to proficiency.  You can also find other material such as board games, songs, and kids' songs.  If you're looking for resources such as ESL books, teaching guides or quizzes you can also find them here.


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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

How I started TEFLing

Over the years people have asked me how I got into TEFL, so here's my story.

I had orginally wanted to teach literature and was going to declare secondary education as my major in university. However, after my first semestre I decided to study Studio Arts, which was my choice, as well as Business Management, which was my father's.

I had enough credits through CLEP tests, studying at a community college while I was homeschooled, and taking summer classes that despite have a double major and a minor and spending 3 semestres at other universites and 2 summers abroad, I still graduated early and with honours to boot. 

While at university I had the chance to spend a semestre studying in California, Spain, and did an internship in Washington DC. While in California I was able to spend Thanksgiving break in Venezuela and winter break in Taiwan teaching English in both places and I was hooked. That summer I went to China to teach English as well. The following summer after I studied in Spain, I worked in Scotland. I had caught the travel bug and the TEFL bug.

I had a job lined up after graduation to teach in Venezuela, but things were very bad at that time: embassy stuff and missionaries were being evacuated. In addition, there was a mass transport strike so I could get to the capital, but there was no transport to where I was supposed to work , which was on the other side of the country. Even though I had my flight and visa, 10 days before I was supposed to go I cancelled.

I decided to take a one month intensive TEFL course instead and booked a flight to the Czech Republic. The course was great and I was able to do a short internship in a small town afterwards. The woman who owned the TEFL programme was expanding to China and I was offered a job to teach in a small town there. I went back to the US for about 6 weeks to wait for my visa and then was on my way to China.

I took the course in January 2003 in the Czech Republic and in March 2003 was in China teaching English. I've been TEFLing since then and have taught in Peru and Korea as well. I've done things I never thought I'd do; I got married in 2006, became a Peruvian citizen in 2009, and will be having a baby next month. Over the years I got a Masters in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and a Masters in Professional Education and Training. I've published a couple of articles, given presentations, and attended workshops and conferences. My next goals are to do the Trinity Diploma and take the SIT Training course.

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Monday, 3 October 2011

Cool Link: ESL Tower

ESL Tower has lots of exercises, such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. It's a simple site and easy to navigate.

Their games section has games arranged by grammar, vocabulary, and parts of speech, so you can easily find what you're looking for. The games section is also integrated into their lesson plans for kids so you don't have to look for supplementary material. Simple, but a great site.

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Hot Topic: Moving Every Year

Many TEFL teachers look at TEFLing as a way to see the world.  While that's true, some people enjoy moving to a different country every year.  They like to experience new cultures, customs, learn a new language, and to be able to say that they've lived in X number of countries.

Other teachers say this is a bad idea since often when you move country you have to start over because employers want teachers to have teaching experience in that country.  Moving costs can also be high if you have to keep buying stuff only to get rid of it a year later and then buy things again when you get to another country. They also say that by staying in one country you can network and get better jobs.

What do you think?
Is it worth moving every year or so or is it best to stay in one place for a while?


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Saturday, 1 October 2011

How to Get Good Reference Letters

Updated 15 November 2012

Try to get reference / recommendation letter before you leave your current job. First, your boss will be more likely to remember details about your position. Second, your boss is still working there. Third, you're still working there and can remind your boss to give you a reference letter.

International School Review has some more tips on how to request reference letters. If you've left your job and need to ask for a reference letter try following the form below. You might also try reading ISR's What do YOU Want in Your Letter of Reference?


Asking for a Reference Letter
Dear (Name)
My name is (name) and I worked at your institute from (dates) as a (job title). I am currently applying for a position in/at (country or institute). In order to apply for this position I must submit reference letters and I would like to know if you would be able to write a reference letter for me. If possible, could you please include two copies: one for my application and one for my personal records. I really appreciate your help. Thank you so much.
Sincerely,
(Your name)
(Your postal address so they can snail mail you.)

What a Good Reference Letter Should Contain
  • How you know me, ex. employer, students, etc.
  • What I did and when.
  • Why I am a good candidate for the position.
  • Any additional responsibilites: workshops, newsletters, level coordinator, student placement, etc.
  • Write the letter on professional letterhead with the name of the institution at the top.
  • Should include contact information (address, phone, and email).
  • Include job title (mine and yours)
  • Sign using ink. Don't just type your name.
  • Stamp it with the school's stamp.
  • Date it.
Also published in . . .
This article has been published in the ELT Times.

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