Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Quick Tip: Give Students Jobs in the Classroom

Commonly used with young learners and children, it can be used with all age groups. Giving students jobs allows students to be responsible, help you, and lets students help each other. There are many things they can do, from handing out papers, collecting them, helping other students, decorating a bulletin board, and more.

You can find some ideas at K6 Educators, Scholastic, and The Cornerstone for Teachers. With older students you could have them help the slower students or translate for those who need it.

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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hot Topic: Teaching English to Executives and Business Professionals

If you're lucky to land a job teaching business executives then you're golden because the pay is usually very good. They can usually be divided into two groups: those who can speak fluently and those who know very little English, but are being forced to learn.

If you teach the first group, then things are pretty easy, since you don't have to teach them English, but rather help them perfect it. If you teach the second group, then things can be challenging since they're stressed enough with work and now have to learn English, but rarely study.

If they speak English well, you'll probably end up conversing in English about their job, looking over their emails, or helping with reports. If they don't speak English well, they tend to not come to class and if they cancel at the last minute, you're usually paid.

What do you think?
Have you taught business professionals? What was your experience?

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Job Site: TIE Online




If you're looking for teaching positions in international schools, then take a look at TIE Online. They've got info for job seekers, employers, and resources.  If you want to stay up-to-date on vacancies, you can post your CV, get notified via email, and subscribe to the International Educator newspaper.

TIE Online isn't free. You'll have to subscribe, though web only subscriptions are only about $40. So if you're looking for an international school job and willing to pay, then check out their site.

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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cool Link: Everything Preschool

With over 30,000 preschool activites you can't go wrong. Everything Preschool has crafts, songs, science, themes, lesson plans, colouring pages, holiday calendars, bulletin boards, alphabet ideas, and more.

It's not geared towards ESL or EFL, but if you teach young learners you know that they learn fast so you could probably use some of their activities. Many of the activities that you find here you should be able to adapt and use with your students.


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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Quick Tip: Smile

It's 4:59 pm on a Friday and you're ready to go home. You've planned to go away for the weekend and get some R and R when your boss comes in and announces that there's a special event tomorrow and you'll have to work, all day, with no extra pay, and there's nothing you can do about it since it's in your contract.

So what do you do? Get angry? Patiently try to explain? Smile and nod?

I know it sounds bad, but sometimes when it's not worth a fight smiling and nodding is the best thing to do. Getting angry will only make things worse, especially if you work in Asia where loss of face is a big issue. You could try to explain to your boss, but if it's in your contract, there's not much you could do. You should talk to your boss later and tell her that you'd appreciate some advanced notice. Or try to change the contract so that if you work Saturday you get an extra day off or extra pay.

This isn't the only situation when smiling is the best option. I know it's hard when kids go crazy and run around, or your students are using their smart phones yet again to text in class, or when your boss comes up with a hare-brained idea, but smiling can help soften the blow and doesn't make you look bad like shouting and getting angry does. The next time you find yourself in a difficult position, count to 10, smile, and try to explain the situation.

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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Hot Topic: Teaching English to Large Classes

More common in Asia than elsewhere, some teachers find themselves in a lecture hall full of 60 or more students that they are supposed to teach English conversation to. Sometimes a school may have large classes because that's what's usually done. Other times they'll have large classes so that they can save money and only pay one teacher.

Whatever the reason, it's challenging for the teacher to teach such a large class. Talking to other teachers and getting their advice can help. You can also check online for tips and read teaching large classes for more ideas.

What do you think?
Have you had to teach large classes? What activities worked well for you?

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Thursday, 19 July 2012

Job Site: ESL Job Feed

It's a very crowded site, but they have lots of jobs. ESL Job Feed has jobs broken down into countries and regions so you can easily find what you're looking for. If you scroll down you can find the latest ESL jobs, ESL teacher courses, ESL teacher schools, and ESL tutors.

The idea behind ESL Job Feed is that they pull job listings from all over the internet. They say they have teaching jobs from TESall, Total ESL, Yahoo!/Monster, Guardian Jobs, Chronicle of Higher Education, craigslist, TESOL.org, TEFL.com, and more. This means that instead of going to a handful of sites, you can find everything you need here. They've got a wide range of jobs from institute jobs for newbies to university positions for experienced teachers. 

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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Cool Link: ESL-Kids

Simple, well organised, yet chocked full of good stuff, ESL-Kids has flashcards, worksheets, in-class activities, songs, and games that you can use with young learners and children.

Their flashcards have topics such as actions, the ABCs, animals, holidays, family, 123s, and jobs. Their worksheet section is great because you have two choices: you can choose pre-set ones or make your own. There are writing practice worksheets, text, tracing, matching, multiple choice, drawing, spelling, and games that you can make with their worksheet generator. The songs and games section is definitely worth a visit since kids love singing and always beg for games. Check out ESL-Kids if you teach children, your students will love you for it.

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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Quick Tip: Take Half the Stuff You Think You Need

If you're like me you start optimistically thinking, Wow this suitcase is huge. I can fit all my stuff inside. Then after a bit, you end up sitting on the floor with so much piled up around you thinking, How am I going to fit all of this in?  I need all of it.  Then you beg your sister to sit on your suitcase while you mutter, It'll fit. Though it never does.

The first time I went to Europe I lugged a sheet that I had sown so that it was like a sleeping bag with me since I had read that in hostels you had to bring your own bedding. It went with me when I studied in Spain and then to Scotland where I ended up working.  I never used it, not even once. I travelled Europe by sleeping on the trains and then in the UK all the hostels I stayed at had bedding, for free.

Other times you may think that you need to bring all your clothes when chances are they'll have clothes in the country where you're going. Though if you're big or tall it might be hard to find. Still, there's international shipping and people can order stuff online. What gets me is when people bring toilitries like shampoo and soap. You can pretty much find these anywhere. Somethings like birth control, contact solution, sunblock, or condoms can be hard to find, expensive, or not as reliable, so people bring those with them.

Books and papers also take up a lot of space.  Readers like Kindle can help save space so you don't have to bring books. If you really want to bring a book, ask yourself if you can live without it, could buy it there, or online. Places like the Book Depository offer worldwide shipping to most countries. You also might be able to get it from a local library. DVDs and CDs used to take up a lot of space, but with technology what it is today, most people have a MP3, laptop, netbook, ipad, ipod, tablet, smart phone, or something that can save all your favourite movies, music, and books.

You really have to think if you need something or you want it. While some countries like the US allow people 2 checked bags, a carry-on, and a personal item, if you're flying from the UK, you only get 1 checked bag, a carry-on, and a personal item. Plan carefully and you'll see that there's lots you can live without and chances are if you need something, it's available in the country where you're going.  Try also reading, your life in a suitcase for more suggestions on what you should take and what you should leave behind.


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Monday, 16 July 2012

Cool Link: Activities for ESL Students


Part of iteslj (The Internet TESL Journal), a4esl.org (Activities for ESL Students) has lots of material that might interest you if you're looking to test and assess your students.  They have grammar quizzes, vocab quizzes, crossword puzzles, bilingual quizzes, podcasts and videos, and links to other sites. If you're looking for quizzes, then this website it perfect for you.


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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Hot Topic: Learning the Local Language

You'll find that most people are gung-ho about learning the language when they first arrive, however, their work and personal life soon takes over and they don't make much progress.

While some people learn the language, there are others who have spent years in that country and don't speak much at all. Perhaps they were only planning on staying a year or two, or maybe they're just too busy.

Some languages are harder to learn than others. If you're interested in learning the local language, then try reading learning the local lingo and learning the local lingo while teaching ESL.


What do you think?
Have you learnt the language of the country where you're working? Why or why not?  Any tips you have for language learners?

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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Hot Topic: Working Split Shifts

Occasionally you might have to work split shifts; this may be more common in Latin countries such as Latin America, Spain, or Italy.

Some people hate them and others love them. People who hate them say that they break up their day, but people who love them say it's nice to have a couple hours off in the afternoon to eat, sleep, or run errands.

What do you think?
Have you had to work split shifts? What did you think of them?

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Friday, 13 July 2012

Recruiters: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Updated 4 July 2013

Recruiters have adverts up all the time showing a variety of jobs all over the place. But is it good to use a recruiter? It depends. Some people love them and some people hate them. Recruiters may be common in some countries, like Korea or Oman for example. If you go to Oman, make sure you get your stop-over at a hotel. You can find more info at Dave's ESL Cafe.


Types of Recruiters
There are usually two types of recruiters: those that recruit for a variety of schools and those that recruit for their own school or franchise. An example of the first would be Footprints. They recruit for schools all over the world. An example of the second would be English First (EF). They recruit only for EF schools, but they still have positions all over the world. Below you will find good, bad, and ugly things about using recruiters.

The Good
First, they do the work for you. They'll find you a couple jobs and you can choose the one you want. In addition, they are usually up to date on immigration requirements and can tell you what you need to do to get the visa. Another benefit is that they can act as a go between by helping with communication when neither you nor the school speak each others' languages.

Second, they have contacts in countries that you don't. They often have contracts with schools that don't put up their own advertisements which means that you will have more access to jobs.

Thirdly, it's also possible to work with more than one recruiter at a time to broaden your chances of getting a good job and getting a job quickly. Fourth, if you already have a full time job lined up and are looking for some part-time work, they'll be able to help you fill the holes in your schedule.

Lastly, it's free. They'll do all the legwork and you don't have to pay them. If a recruiter wants you to pay them, then they're not legit.

Below are some good recruiters. That's not to say that these are the only good recruiters, but these are ones that have been repeatedly recommended. If you know of a good recruiter, please let me know. If you've got the qualifications to work at an international school, look at this post to find a list of recruiters.
The Bad
First, they do not work for you - they work for the school. This means that they often have the school's best interests at hand, not yours. Second, they are not your friend; they are simply doing their job. Thirdly, they may stretch the truth a bit about the schools in order to get you to sign a contract. So "close to a big city" might really mean that the school is an hour away by bus and that bus only runs once a day. Lastly, they're not magicians, meaning that if you royally screw up, they're not going to bail you out. There are a lot of bad recruiters out there. Dave's ESL Cafe is a good place to start if you want to find out if a recruiter is reputable or not. Here are some warning signs of a bad recruiter. Basically, if it's too good to be true, it usually is.
  1. They ask you for money.
  2. They use post offices instead of an office.
  3. They make promises they can't keep, such as getting you a visa if you legally can't get one. 
  4. They charge you a fee for a job lead.
  5. They want you to make a decision straightaway.
  6. They need you to start tomorrow.
  7. They promise you a lot of money. 
The Ugly
The ugly is just about the same as the bad. The worst recruiters out there do all the things mentioned in "The Bad" list. Perhaps the worst thing is that there are a lot of crappy recruiters out there who are just in it for the money and don't have a clue about recruiting. Or recruiters who actually try to find teachers who teach illegally on the side and turn them over to immigration.

In Conclusion
There are good and bad recruiters out there. As with everything, don't put your eggs in one basket. When you apply for jobs, use a variety of methods: recruiters, connections, word-of-mouth, and applying directly.

Lastly, if you do decide to get a recruiter, try to get feedback from other people who have used that recruiter. Don't just read the feedback the recruit gives you from their websites. Go online: Dave's ESL Cafe is a good place, and ask others about that recruiter.

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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Job Site: ESL Jobs

Very well organised and easy to navigate, ESL Jobs has jobs arranged by time, region, country, as well as online. They also have basic information about TEFL certs to help guide new teachers.

The only issues are that they have a list of all countries, though not all those countries have job offers and they save all their jobs, so you might read an advert that was posted years ago. Nonetheless, it's still a decent resource to use when looking for jobs.

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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Cool Link: Dream English

Kids love to sing and dance and Dream English acknowledges that. They have free mp3s, flashcards, games, chants, phonics, lesson plans and more.

If you're interested in their songs, scroll down and you can see videos about ABCs, colours, numbers, weather, actions, animals, body parts, warmers, holidays, traditional kids' song, and a whole lot more. Below that they have the top free songs and products that you can download. If you teach kids or young learners, check out their site.

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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Quick Tip: Bring Enough Money to Cover Start Up Costs

You know the expression, "take half of what you think you need and bring twice as much money". This is especially true when moving to a new country. Even if you have a job lined up, you'll still probably have to wait at least a month until you get paid. If you have to pay for housing, that's another expense as some countries (such as Japan and Korea) require key money, which can vary from an extra month's rent to over a year's worth.

Then there are things that you'll probably have to buy to set up house, such as plates, utensils, bedding, and other necessities. You may have to pay for a medical check, work permit, work visa, or for other documents. You just never know how much money you'll need exactly so it's hard to budget, but it's better to have too much than too little. Bring money in a variety of forms as well, such as traveller cheques (they're not too common, but they're replaceable), ATM card, credit card, and cash. Have access to money back home as well just in case there's an emergency.


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Monday, 9 July 2012

Cool Link: ESL Partyland

Having fun while learning English as a Second Language is what ESL Partyland is all about. With info for both English learners and English teachers, you could use it with your students or tell them about it as a resource they can use outside of class.

With English lessons, tips on learning English, quizzes, games, grammar, idioms, slang, and phrasal verbs, reading, trivia, useful expressions, and vocabulary there's lots you can use in your class.

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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hot Topic: Working for a Local Boss

As a TEFL teacher you will often have to interact with the locals and sometimes you may end up with a local as a boss. There are usually three issues with this: the language barrier, the cultural barrier, and their educational background.

If you're lucky, your boss will speak fluent or be nearly fluent in English, so language won't be a problem. Though sometimes people decide to open a TEFL school because it's a good business and might barely be able to speak English.

Culture is also an issue. Even though your boss might be fluent in English, they might not be fluent in your culture. English speakers are often more direct and to the point than other people. They might not like it if you come right out and tell them no. Likewise, they might not think well of you if you offer suggestions to help improve the school. Sometimes they've lived in an English speaking country for years and you'll have no problems at all.

Educational background is the last issue.  Ideally, people who open a school should know about English and education. However, the reality is that for many people, opening an English school means big money. They might be business professionals who are looking to earn a bit more. This can be a problem since they will often cater to the parents and the students, rather than care about teaching.

What do you think?
Have you had an issues working for a local boss? How did you solve them?

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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Poll Results June 2012: Are online TEFL qualifications any good?

June's poll was "Are online TEFL qualifications any good?" Here are the results.
  • Yes: 50% with 6 votes
  • No: 17% with 2 votes
  • Maybe: 33% with 4 votes
It appears that online certs are becoming more acceptable. Even the CELTA can be done mostly online now.

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Friday, 6 July 2012

Cool Link: English Banana

With free podcasts, downloads, books, games, quizzes, worksheets, and more, English Banana is worth checking out.

Their website is very clutter but they make up for it with all the teaching resources they have.  They've got books and CD-ROMs about English conversation, grammar, activities, resources, and much more. With over a million visitors per month, they definitely have material worth checking out.

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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Job Site: ESL Employment

With information for employers, job seekers, ESL resources, education corner, and ESL forum, there's lots of information for TEFL and TESL teachers. You can search the web or ESL Employment by keyword, region, state, or country. They also have a free weekly job listing email that they can send you if you sign up.

I'd avoid the "Get Hired!" red tab in the middle as it'll just take you to a site that asks you to buy an ebook to find a TEFL job. Although it's written by the owner of ESL Employment, it's not worth buying. To begin with it hasn't been updated since 2006. He also claims that the majority of ESL and EFL jobs aren't advertised: which is blantly not true as can be seen by his website and hundreds others.

In addition, there's usually no need to pay to find a job (though some websites, such as those that hire international school teachers or host international school job fairs are the exception to this rule). If anything, schools pay recruiters or pay to put up adverts, avoid paying in order to get a job. Chances are the info they give you won't be anything you don't know already. If you're looking for lists of websites that you should look at when looking for a TEFL job, check out  TEFL Tips' list of TEFL job sites.

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Cool Link: DLTK Kids

This site is made for teaching kids. DLTK Kids has crafts, colouring pages, holiday ideas, ABCs, 123s, shapes, and more. It's simple and easy to navigate. They also have a cool section about countries and cultures which is definitely worth checking out if you teach ESL or EFL.

The owners of this site have other sites, such as KidZone, First-School and others. You can find their complete list on their site in the right hand column.

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Quick Tip: Have a Backup Plan

It's easy to think that everything will go according to plan, but things rarely do. Perhaps your visa is taking longer than normal, your boss turns out to be horrible, there's an emergency back home, housing is a nightmare, or you run out of money. No matter the problem: big or small, it's good to have a Plan B and a Plan C, just in case.

Many TEFL teachers get through their contracts with no issues, but some of them have small glitches and others have major problems.  By planning ahead you can think about worse case senarios and have some backup plans in mind. If nothing happens, then all the better. However, if something does, you'll be well prepared.


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Monday, 2 July 2012

Job Site: ESL Pages

With info on TEFL certs and teacher training, lesson plans, ideas for the classroom, games, songs, forums, TEFL jobs and more, ESL Pages is a worth checking out. Their job section is worth looking at as you can post your CV and search for jobs.

They've also got links to other sites that give you job search tips, sample CVs, and steps on how to find a teaching job overseas. Their actual job board doesn't have that many jobs and many of them are in Asia, so if you're looking to work there, then you're in luck.

The bad thing about this site is that they seem to have a lot of adverts, for example, if you click on teacher training or online TEFL cert, you'll just be taken to an advert page. It's also very busy and hard to navigate.

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Sunday, 1 July 2012

Foreign Language Teacher Trainers Living Abroad

I've been published in the Summer 2012 edition of The Teacher Trainer Training Journal!

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Cool Link: Pronuncian

Students will often ask how they can improve their pronuncation. The website, Pronuncian is perfect for that. They have videos, lessons, assessment, minimal pairs, podcasts, and products available for those wanting to learn American English pronunciation.

They also have sounds, stress, linking, pitch, and other materials available. While you can view some of their material for free, the majority of it is only available by subscribing. 1 month will cost you $25, 3 months is $60, and 6 months is $100. Some students may be able to pay, though if you're at an institute, especially one that stresses pronunciation, your boss might be willing to purchase the subscription.


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