Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Quick Tip: Network Like Crazy

Updated 8 December 2014

I'm sure at one time or another you were told it's who you know that'll help you get a good job. That's especially true today. While you might not directly know the person in charge of hiring, perhaps your friend's co-worker's boss might know of a job for you.

With the internet, there's no excuse for not networking. Places like Linkedin, Twitter, and even Facebook might be able to help you network your way to a great job. Don't forget the importance of meeting people face to face. If you don't have business cards, get them now and start handing them out daily.

Conferences are another great way to network and meet new people. One thing to remember is to keep in touch with people after you meet them. Don't just email them when you're looking for a job; instead try to touch base with them a couple times a year. By building a good network you'll be sure to land the perfect job. Find out more about networking by reading networking to get a great job.

Over to you
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Monday, 30 January 2012

Cool Link: ESL School

Although ESL School hasn't been updated in a while, they still have some good information about discipline and classroom management.

They have information about the differences between boys and girls, Bloom's Taxonomy, managing large classes, and using students' L1 in class, so you'll be sure to find something useful for your class.

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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Hot Topic: Teaching English Illegally

You've probably heard it before, that working on a tourist visa isn't that bad. The chances of getting caught are pretty slim and if you do get caught, you're likely to just get a slap on the wrist.

There are some places, like the EU, that have much stricter restrictions about teaching illegally and overstaying your visa. Getting fined, imprisioned, and banned from the EU are all possible.

In other places, like Latin America, teaching illegally is common. Border hopping or paying a fine for overstaying your visa is all that needs to be done. 

Some people blame the schools for the need to teach illegally. In some places, like Peru, language institutes hire teachers with just a tourist visa and tell them to border hop. They don't want to go through the hassle of getting a visa, flights, or housing for their teachers. Others teach illegally because they're only looking for a way to pay for their travels.

What do you think?
Is teaching illegally on a tourist visa ok?  Should schools be pushed to get visas for their teachers?

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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Job Site: TESL All

TES All isn't just a job site, they have tons of EFL and ESL jobs, so that's what this post is going to focus on. They also have info about TEFL certs, teacher guides, lesson plans, teacher discussions, teacher articles, and a whole lot more.

TES All is organised by location, such as SE Asia TEFL jobs, Korea TEFL Jobs, South America TEFL Jobs, Europe TEFL jobs, and so on. They compile job offers from all over and post them on their site. The one complaint I have about the site is the site search and site portal isn't working. So if you just want to find jobs for one country, you'll have to scroll through everything to find what you want.

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Cool Link: EFL Classroom 2.0

This award winning site has lots and lots of information, but it's well organised, so you'll be able to find everything you need.  EFL Classroom 2.0 has15 different sections with information such as teacher training, young learners, eLearning, resources, most popular, and music. 

You've got to see this site to believe it. There's so much that you could use in your classroom whether you're teaching young learners, children, teenagers, and adults.  My favourite part is all the technology, such as videos and eStories that they have available.


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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Quick Tip: Record a Demo Lesson


One reason to record a demo lesson is so that you can watch yourself teach. You can see what you do well and what you need to improve. Another reason is to make your job search easier. In addition to emailing your CV, now you're supposed to scan your degree, TEFL certificate, and a number of other documents from your teaching portfolio to send as well. Some employers are taking it a step further and asking for a demo lesson. When job hunting the last thing you want to do is try to record the perfect demo lesson.

So plan ahead. . .

Try recording some of your lessons now and build up a library of demo lessons that you can choose from. Make demo lessons that last between 5 and 15 minutes, have different class sizes, and involve teaching a variety of skills. You could teach make one for each of the four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), one of you giving a lecture, another of a class debate, or one of students working in groups.

By preparing now when the time comes to look for a job you won't have to worry about your demo lesson. Just pick and choose from your demo lesson library.

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Monday, 23 January 2012

ESL Educators Blog Carnival: January 2012, Open Topic


January's ESL Educators Blog Carnival was an open topic. People wrote about tax info for Americans, teaching on a whim, ice breakers, and dealing with culture shock. You can read them at My Several Worlds.

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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Hot Topic: Learning a Language through Immersion

Immersion simply isn't enough.  Students have to be taught the basics, study, and practice the language.

I'm sure we all know someone who's lived abroad for X number of years and still can't ask for directions. The same thing can happen with ESL and EFL. While it's true that young kids can often pick up a language without learning grammar or what have you, it gets harder and harder when you get older.

What do you think?
Does immersion work? What's the best way to learn a language?

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Cool Link: Teach ESL to Kids

Teach ESL to Kids has lots of material that will help children learn English. On her site you will find, ESL activities and games, tips for teaching ESL to specific age groups, how to use songs, as well as advice for teaching children. Take a look around, there's lots of useful info. The downside to this site?  It hasn't been updated since 2009.


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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Job Site: Geovisions

While not a job site per se, GeoVisions have information about volunteering, working, and teaching abroad. The only downside about their organisation is that they require a fee. While I don't recommend paying in order to get jobs teaching abroad, the other programmes, such as volunteering, au pairing, or doing an internships abroad would be worth it.

I don't believe that you should pay in order to get a teaching job since there are so many job sites out there, especially for the countries that they target (China, Korea, and Thailand). However, with volunteering it's common to pay a fee.

For au pairing, most agencies also require a fee to make sure you have all the necessary documents, are placed with a good family, and are going to be a good au pair. As for internships, they only offer them in Chile and China, and unless your university has connections, I think it'd be pretty hard to arrange an internship by yourself. All in all, GeoVisions is a reputable company especially when looking for volunteer positions.

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Cool Link: Easy English

Making tests, exams, and quizzes for your students can be a pain. Easy English makes everything all that much easier. This site allows students to test themselves and what's even better will then explain what they need to study. They've also got lesson plans, links, and an ESL Chat Room where you can talk to students and teachers from around the world.


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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Quick Tip: Give Daily Homework

Tell your students that they have homework and they'll be sure to start moaning and groaning.  Homework is like vegetables; people don't like them, but they're still good for you and you should do homework daily.

Teachers might not give homework for a variety of reasons; they don't want to listen to their students complain or maybe they don't want to grade it.

The truth of the matter is that if you don't give homework to your students, chances are that most of them won't even open their books to review what was taught.

Giving homework gives them a reason to review what was taught in class and to look ahead and see what's next. That's not to say that you need to give long, boring assignments in order for students to succeed. Remember KISS: keep in short and simple. For example, if they need to learn 10 vocabulary words you could tell them that they need to one or two of these:
  • Find out what part of speech they are.
  • Write a simple definition, without copying from the dictionary.
  • Write a sentence using each one.
  • Write a story using all 10.
  • Read their sentences aloud to someone.
  • Read their story aloud to someone.
  • Find the translation of those 10 words into their native language.
  • Read and record their sentences.
  • Listen to that recording.
  • Read and record their story.
  • Listen to their story being read to them.
Each activity is short and simple. Homework is a necessary evil and one day students will see that it's good for them.  There are more tips about giving homework in TEFL Tips' homework article.

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Monday, 16 January 2012

Cool Link: Behavior Advisor

Classroom discipline is always an issue whether you're teaching kids or adults.  With kids you're trying to make them sit down and stop moving. With adults you're trying to unplug them from their smart phones or wake up.

Behavior Advisor is aimed at K-12 students and has some great tips for teachers. With tips such as intervention strategies, free podcasts and videos, and tips for parents, you're sure to find something that can help you out.

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Sunday, 15 January 2012

Hot Topic: No Textbooks

There seems to be a move away from textbooks and it's not just limited to the EFL or ESL field.  I taught at an international school in 2008 and they shunned textbooks like the plague. Teachers were expected to come up with their own material based on their students' needs.

It's a good idea in theory. Though in practice doesn't work. We were told that we were expected to create a curriculum for the entire first semestre for EFL, Maths, and Science. In three days and without meeting the students or seeing any previous work they had done.

It was an impossible task. Even if we knew the students, how could we know what they had learnt the previous years?

The school had some books in the basement, but weren't labeled or organised by year. So I found some books that I thought were appropriate for extensive reading, starting thinking about projects, quizzes, and exams and brought them to my class. Only to be told that they had read the book the previous year.

I feel that while it's great for schools to push teachers to be creative and make material that's suited for their students' needs, it really help to have a book to base everything off. That's not to say that you have to follow the book word for word, but having that book can be your guide and can also help the teacher who teaches your students next. Standardisation is also becoming an issue and it's hard to do if there are no textbooks and no records of what has previously been taught.

What do you think?
Are textbooks evil?  Do you follow a textbook at your school?

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Job Site: Global Links Tutors

With over 10 years of experience, Global Links Tutors helps teachers find positions in international schools around the world. They help teachers find medium to long term positions, focusing on English speaking countries.

You'll have to pay a fee in order to go to their recruitment fair as well as fill out forms to make sure that you're eligible. Be sure to check out their site if you're looking for a long term position in an English speaking country.


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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Cool Link: Download ESL

Technology is taking over our lives and using technology to learn English is no exception. Download ESL has lots of materials that you can use in your ESL or EFL classroom.

While the majority of the materials on their site are not free, they do have a couple of things you can try before you buy. There are two free sections: Power Point and Quizzes. I haven't bought any of their items, so I can't comment on the material they offer for a fee. However, you can try the free stuff and ask your school to purchase the rest.


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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Quick Tip: Learn Your Students' Names

I'll have to admit learning names can be tough, especially if you're teaching ESL or EFL and your students don't have English names. If you teach large classes, it gets even harder.

However, by learning students' names you can break down the barrier a bit and have them understand that you see them as people and not just numbers. There are a couple things that can help you learn your students' names.
  • Give your students assigned seats.  If they seat in the same place then you can start putting names with where they seat.
  • Take their pictures.  Some schools will give you a roster with the students' names and photos.  If that's the case, then all the better. If not, take some photos.
  • Give them English names.  Some students downright refuse to choose an English name. If that's the case, then that's fine. However, there will be some students who will want an English name and that'll make it easier for you to remember who they are.

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Monday, 9 January 2012

Cool Link: ESL Prof

If you're looking for interactive English, then try ESL Prof. It has English software, songs for ESL and EFL, English movies, worksheets, and links to other TEFL and TESL sites.

The worksheets are pretty extensive and there's info about many topics, such as writing, dictations, and grammar. The only downside is that it hasn't been updated since 2009, so don't expect any new material to pop up.

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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Hot Topic: Non Native Speakers as English Teachers

You've seen the job adverts. They usually start by asking for a native speaker of English. Does this mean that native speakers teach English better?  Not necessarily. There are a couple of disadvantages to having native speakers.

1. They don't know what it's like to study English.
2. They may not speak the students language.
3. They may not know the rules.

There are other issues as well, but these seem to be the main ones.  In places where I've worked I've found that the most qualified teacher may not get the highest salary. Non native speakers (NNS) are often given lower salaries. However, they may have more experience and more qualifications and this  leads to bad feelings towards native English speakers.

When I studied Spanish at school, I only had one native Spanish speaker, the rest were native English speakers and one was a native German speaker. It was never an issue then, so I don't see why it should be now.

What do you think?
Do non native speakers make good English teachers?  Would you rather learn a foreign language from a native speaker or a non native speaker? Why?

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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Poll Results December 2011: Where do you teach?

Question: Where do you teach?
  • Primary school: 16% with 9 votes
  • Secondary school: 16% with 9 votes
  • Middle school: 14% with 8 votes
  • Kindergarten: 13% with 7 votes
  • University: 13% with 7 votes
  • Private lessons: 11% with 6 votes
  • Institute: 9% with 5 votes
  • Business: 5% with 3 votes
  • College: 3% with 2 votes

January's poll: How many years experience do you have? Be sure to vote now!

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Thursday, 5 January 2012

Job Site: Teachers' Overseas Recruiting Fair (TORF)

Queen's University runs a Teachers' Overseas Recruiting Fair (TORF) for licensed teachers who are looking to teach in a K-12 international school. You'll have to fill out some paperwork if you're interested in registering, but it's worth it as you'll have access to many schools from around the world.

Queen's University also has an International Teacher Placement Service (ITPS) as well as International Job Search Links.  Check all their information out as it's sure to help you find a job at an international school.


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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Cool Link: Bradley's English School

If you're looking for free interactive ESL and EFL activities, then take a look at Bradley's English School. The site is aimed towards young learners, children, and beginners.

They have games such as the alphabet, concentration, hangman, and jumbled spelling. In addition to fun and games, they also have worksheets, like putting words in alphabetical order, crosswords, and wordsearches.  If you want to use interactive learning with your students, then try Bradley's English School.


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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Getting a University Job in Korea

Updated 2 December 2014

I wrote a guest post over at Overseas Exile on how to get a university job in Korea. You can read it here. You can also read it below. You might also want to read about working conditions at Korean universities.

I work at one of the top five universities in Korea and I got the job while overseas, something most people said was impossible to do. I’ve been teaching English for 9 years now, and 6 of those have been at universities. I’m not yet 30 either. University jobs in Korea aren’t what they used to be. Granted most jobs in Korea aren’t what they used to be. The golden days are gone. Most of my friends have been in Korea for over a decade and they say that if you take the cost of living into account and inflation, they make less now than they did when they first came here.

That being said, if you’re looking to teach English, Korea is one of the best places to save. The cushy university jobs offer months of paid vacation. I get 5 months. If I teach classes at my university during the break, I can double my salary. Not bad.

So are you interested in teaching at a university in Korea yet? If so, then read on.

There are two different basic types of university jobs: unigwon and regular university jobs. Unigwons, named for university and hagwon, usually have you teach some kids’ classes. Regular university jobs will have you teaching adults; university students usually between 18 and 24 years old. Regular university jobs can further be divided into two categories: teaching credit courses and teaching non-credit courses. Credit courses often pay more and are regular subjects that are taught in English, such as Science, Business English, Writing, Presentation, Literature, and so on. Non-credit courses usually pay less and are usually the 4 skills or conversation classes.

So now I bet you’re thinking, sounds great, sign me up. Now just hang on a second, let’s see if you’re qualified. If you’re going to teach classes in English, you have to have a passport (and they usually require most of your education to have taken place using English) from an English speaking country and those are Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US. French Canadians might have difficulties, though every university is different. Next you’re going to need a bachelor degree and that also has to be from an English speaking country.

Those are the basic qualifications. If you get an E2 visa, which is an English teacher visa, you’re also going to have to have a current, clean federal background check. Even though you’ll be teaching at a university, most employers will get you an E2 visa rather than the coveted E1 professor visa. For the E1, you’re going to have to have proof of two years teaching experience.

The more qualified you are, the better. If you’ve been to conferences, given workshops, been published, done a masters degree, completed a TEFL course (with at least 120 hours and 6 of teaching practice), written a thesis, then great. Keep in mind that more and more universities are asking for masters degrees and at least two years university experience. With Korea being flooded by English speakers who can’t get work back home, universities can afford to be picky. I’ve seen licensed teachers and people with PhDs working alongside with fresh off the boat graduates and they’re all working at public schools making about the same. If you don't speak Korean, don't worry. Many people here speak English.

Jobs start coming out in late August for a March 1st job when the academic year begins. For a September 1st start jobs start coming out late February. Right before the semester starts is another good time to look for jobs because some teachers decide to accept jobs elsewhere at the last minute. This means the university has to scramble to find a replacement. If you haven’t already scanned all your docs, then you should do that. Employers commonly ask for your CV (with photo), cover letter, degree, transcripts, certificates, passport, and reference letters.

Some university jobs are extremely competitive. Here's a list of university rankings in Korea and Korean universities. Those in Seoul are usually more difficult to get than those outside of Seoul. That being said, some universities have two campuses and often pay up to 500,000 won a month (currently $435 US) extra for the teachers who are at the campus that is NOT in Seoul. Cost of living is lower outside of Seoul as well. Korea University, Hongik, and Yonsei university which are part of the SKY universities have campuses outside of Seoul. The SKY (Seoul National, Korea, Yonsei) universities, KAIST, Ewha, Hongik, and Sookmyung are pretty competitive positions, so if you’ve never taught in the Korean university system before it might be difficult to land a job there. However, you’ll never know unless you try. Be sure to read the Korean government blacklist about the universities and unigwons you don't want to work for.

Age and being outside of Korea will work against you. Most universities have a cutoff age of 50 or 55. Mine won’t hire teachers over the age of 45. If you can’t interview in country, some places won’t consider you. Some may do a Skype interview.

Some universities have a cap for how long you can teach there. Most are capped at 5 years because that’s when the pension contribution for employers goes up, though some are capped at 2 or 4 years.

Salaries vary as do hours. I’ve seen universities pay as little as 1.8 mil won ($1,566US) for 20 hours a week and up to 3.7 mil won ($3,219US) for 12 hours a week. Overtime is also nice and can vary between 20,000 won up to 50,000. I’ve taught a class that even paid 100,000. The great thing about universities is that you can get extra work at the university legally. From teaching other classes, to proofreading, editing, writing books, tutoring professors, teaching camps, or even voice-overs, there are lots of chances to pick up extra hours.

My contract calls for 15 class hours, which is 5 classes, and everything over that is overtime. I usually teach 8 classes and of those all are credit classes accept one. Six classes meet twice a week and I teach the same lesson to each class, meaning I only have to prep two lessons a week. One class is a conversation class that meets four times a week and one class is a culture class that meets once a week. I’ve created the curriculum for the conversation class and culture class and have applied to teach a current events class next year as well. We have to keep 3 office hours a week, but that’s not too hard.

One thing that has to be said about university jobs is that admin is often hands-off in the sense that you are expected to be an experienced teacher and should know what you’re doing. So they’ll give you the book and tell you how many essays, papers, quizzes, and exams there should be and you’re expected to create a syllabus as well as the topics for the essays and papers and write the quizzes and finals.

As with any job in a foreign country, there are going to be cultural clashes. Keep in mind that losing face is a big deal in Korea, so it’s best to smile and nod, keep your head down, and do your own thing.

If you’re looking to get into the university system in Korea it’s usually difficult to land a plum job outright. What many teachers do is accept any university job, stay for a year or two, and then apply to better universities. Once you’re in the university system, you’re golden. Some teachers aim for the prestigious universities, others want few hours, or a high salary, or lots of vacation, or all of the above. Some of the best university jobs are at universities that few have heard of and that’s probably the reason why the job is so good.

Most universities advertise at Dave's ESL Cafe and it might also be worth checking out
There are still a couple months left during the main hiring season, so get your docs together and start applying. If you want to teach at a university in Korea, I'd definitely recommend Jackie Bolen's book, “How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams.” She wrote a couple of guest posts here at TEFL Tips, How to get the university job in Korea that you want and why I love working at a Korean university. She's been in Korea for over a decade and really knows her stuff.

Your Opinion 
What do you think about TEFLing in Korea?

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Quick Tip: Learn 10 New Vocab Words

Years ago when I took my TEFL course I was told that language learners can learn 10 new words a day.  It makes sense, since if you overload students, they're likely to forget.  Plus, in order to actually remember and be able to use new vocabulary words, you have to write them a lot of time or say them about half as much.

The next time you think about giving your students a long list of vocab words, try to only give them 10 at a time.  Even if you only see your students once a week you can upload more on the intranet or email them new words every day.


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Monday, 2 January 2012

Cool Link: Business English Study

Business English Study is a very simple site but they have a lot to offer. Using real life examples, they create exciting lessons that focus on the business aspect of English. The lessons use famous companies, such as Coca Cola, Facebook, ebay, and Lonely Planet just to name a few.

In addition to these lessons, they also have film lessons, so that students can watch and learn. These are the two main parts of the website, they also have a simple English test that your students might find useful. If you're looking for a site that's easy to navigate yet has a lot of information, check out Business English Study.

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Sunday, 1 January 2012

Can You Ever Go Back Home?

This article has been published in HLT Magazine in February 2012. You can read the article here.

You also might want to take a look at Checklist for Returning Back Home and ISR's Going Home to Stay.

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Hot Topic: Desk Warming at Your EFL Job

Some places, like public schools in Korea, have mandatory office hours for their EFL teachers.  While many teachers may finish around noon or 1pm, they have to stay at school until 4pm or 4:30pm.  The hope is that they will do something useful to help the school, such as plan their lessons, create material, or teach the Korean teachers English. Or at the very least, they could get their MA or learn the local language.

In reality, many teachers surf the net, chat on Facebook, sleep, or listen to music. That's not to say that these teachers are lazy, but many times they end up teaching the same lesson over and over 5 or 6 times, so there's not much lesson planning for them to do. Ditto for creating materials.

As for teaching the other teachers English, that rarely happens as the foreign teacher may be stuck with teachers who have no desire to learn English. Or even more likely, they would rather surf the net, chat, or sleep during mandatory office hours.

What do you think?
Should teachers be required to have such long office hours?  Do you think staying at school after you finish teaching is a waste of time?  What happens at your school?

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