Saturday 28 December 2013

Hot Topic: Students Aren't Customers

Updated 13 June 2014

You've heard the expression, "the customer is always right". The problem with that is the customer is not always right. Furthermore, students aren't customers; they're products.

When it's convenient for them to treat them as customers, such as during teacher evals (While I agree that students' needs have to be met, it's hardly fair for students to hold their teachers' careers in their hands. Studies have shown little correlation between high teacher evaluations and students' learning. Aren't teachers the ones who should be evaluating students?), they do. However, when it's not convenient for them to be customers (astronomical tuition fees, for example), they don't.

Admin needs to recognise this and realise that the proof is in the pudding. Having students who are able to compete in the real world is what they should strive to achieve. After all, most admin and teachers have been teaching for a long time and are experts in their fields; students, however, are not experts in evaluating teachers nor do they know everything about the subject they're studying. It's the teacher's job to teach them.

By viewing them as products the admin will also make necessary changes, such as opening useful classes, fast-tracking graduation, having year round classes, giving credit for outside work, putting theory into practice, having student led classes, and so on.

By treating students as customers, schools run the risk of lowering their standards just to keep students happy. It's a question of ethics and a shifting of power. Now students hold the power in their hands. Teachers are resorting to pizza parties and giving out grades like candy.  Making classes easy, giving little homework, and just "having fun" in class is what many students would like if they were to be happy customers. Schools have to stop doing this and realise that they, with their years of experience and higher degrees, have their students' best interests at heart. Only when schools start viewing students as a product of their institution and not as customers, will everyone benefit.

Here are some more articles about students as customers.


Tuesday 24 December 2013

Do You Recommend People for Jobs?

I've given tips on why you should network, attending conferences to network, as well as networking your way to a good job, however, I look at networking as a way to make contacts and find out about employers. I personally don't feel comfortable asking people to personally recommend me for a job. It doesn't matter if it's a friend or just an acquaintance. It can all to easily come back and bite you.

Let's say they recommend you for a job, but the admin doesn't like you, it comes back on the person who recommended you. Or the admin doesn't like that person and they recommend you, meaning that you'd be less likely to get the job.

For the same reasons that I don't ask people to recommend me, I don't feel comfortable recommending anyone else. I will tell people about job openings or let them know about different employers, but I will not give a personal recommendation.

I do believe that networking is super important. While I won't ask to be recommended or recommend other people, through networking I can find out who is hiring and where they advertise. I will also happily tell people if my employer is hiring and answer any questions they have about the job. 


Tuesday 17 December 2013

International Teachers' Bill of Rights

If you're working at an international school you might be protected by the International Teachers' Bill of Rights. You can read more at ISR.


Saturday 14 December 2013

How to Get a Chinese Work Visa While in Korea

Updated 11 July 2016

China is a great place to teach English as the TEFL market is really starting to grow there. The bubble has burst in Japan and Korea and China is the place to be. There are a number of well paying jobs in China. Here's my list of the Best TEFL Jobs in China.

If you want to get a Chinese Z visa to work in China legally you have a couple of choices.
The rules change all the time. In 2012, they changed at least 3 times. Here's the info if you want to get your visa in Korea. You usually need at least 6 months and 2 blank pages in your passport as well as 6 months left on your ARC or SOFA visa. (If you want to get a tourist visa you'll need to have your trip planned, tickets and hotels booked, and state how many people are in your party. Tourist visas are good for 10 years.) As of 24 January 2014, the Chinese embassy in Korea only accepts direct visa applications if you fulfill certain requirements. Please read the info on their website. If you can't apply directly through the embassy here are some tour agencies that people have recommended. Most places require an application form, passport, photo, printed out flight and hotel reservations. Sometimes they can get you a visa the next day, sometimes it may take up to a week.
  • If you have base access check out Apple Tours at Camp Kim near Yongan USAG. Other military bases around Korea also have tour agencies you can use. 
  • Chinese Visa Application Service Center near Seoul Square. It's opposite Seoul Station and there's a Twosome Place on the ground floor. Go up one floor, turn left, and take the elevators to the sixth floor. 
  • CTS (Chinese Travel Services, the official Chinese government travel agency) 
Got more than 6 months on your ARC?
Basically, if you have more than 6 months left on your ARC you can go to any travel agency and they can get you a X (working) visa.

Got less than 6 months left on your ARC?
If you have less than 6 months on your visa it's a little more difficult. Most agencies will tell you that it's impossible. That's not true. CTS (Chinese Travel Services, the official Chinese government travel agency) can help you get a visa.

You could always try sending your passport home. There's more info on Dave's. More likely than not you will need to hire an official agent recommended by the embassy to help you.

Many people have been able to get their Z visas from HK or Thailand. Officially, if you email them or check their websites, they will say you need to be a resident in order to get a Z visa. However, if you get the medical check done it that country, you should be able to get the visa there. Forever Bright Trading Company (FBT) has been recommended time and time again As I mentioned before, rules change often. Check the Z visa post and the medical post.

It's been said that you can get a Chinese L, F, or Z visa in China. Here's a blog post about it. It's from 2009 and the company's website no longer exists, however, this is China and all things are possible.


Tuesday 10 December 2013

Teaching Abroad and Saving Money

Money's always an issue. Some countries pay more than others. Many people will say that TEFL teachers are grossly underpaid, but others say that money's not that important.

Where to Teach and Retire
You can find some info about the highest paying countries in What's the Best Country To Teach English In? As a teacher you probably won't get rich, but here's a list of countries where you can afford to retire in style. There are also a number of good books about retiring abroad out there.

Budgeting and Earning More
No matter where you are you should learn how to budget and start saving now. If you've good qualifications and experience you should consider asking for a higher salary, more perks, or more benefits. ISR has an article about negotiating a higher salary and people who decide to change careers and get into education.

If you're looking at doing some extra work you could take on more education jobs or try working online.

The exchange rate is also something to take into consideration if you're being paid in the local currency. Check out Can You Afford to Take This Job? for more info. 

International Schools
If you'd like to teach at an international school look at Best and Worst School Benefit Packages, as well as Schools With High Savings Potential, and finally For-Profit vs Non-Profit $chools.


Saturday 7 December 2013

Poll Results November 2013: What should be required to teach English abroad?

November's poll was "What should be required to teach English abroad?" Here are the results.
  • TEFL cert: 53.85% with 7 votes
  • BA: 15.38% with 2 votes
  • Neither: 7.69% with 1 vote
  • Both: 15.38% with 2 votes
  • Other: 7.69% with 1 vote (Diploma)
It's nice to see that people realise that teachers need qualifications. If you're looking for a good TEFL cert, check out CCELT, which is a 100-hour online TEFL certificate as well as the University of Toronto's 100, 120, and 150 hour online TEFL certs.

Be sure to vote in this month's poll: "Is your quality of life better at home or abroad?"


Sunday 1 December 2013

Interview from TESOL Zone

I was interviewed by Mark from TESOL Zone. The article can be found at TESOL Zone or you can read the copy below.

Teaching English in Peru
For English teachers interested in teaching English in Peru here is an interview with Sharon de Hinojosa. Sharon has taught English for many years in Peru and Korea. Her websites: TEFL Tips and LA Job List both contain a lot of useful information for anyone who wishes to teach English in Peru - and on teaching English in Latin America generally. Their FAQ section is particularly helpful. Finally Sharon's Ultimate Peru List is a guide for people who wish to live in Peru.

Peru is an interesting country for many reasons. It has a large mix of cultures, which can be seen in Peru's food, literature and music. It has a long coastline, jungles and the Andes. Many aspects to explore. Here is the interview.

An Interview on Teaching English in Peru with Sharon de Hinojosa

What is the job market like for teaching jobs in Peru at the moment?
It's picking up. Most institutes pay between $6 and $10 an hour. Expect to work split shifts and you may have to travel to off site courses. Also, the majority of institutes are not going to get you a visa, housing, or a flight. There are three institutes that I know of that offer visas: English Life, Britanico, and Langrow.

What's the best way to find a job teaching English in Peru?
Come and knock on doors. Meeting people face-to-face is very important in Peruvian culture. Many teachers simply email their CVs to institutes. This rarely works. Employers want you to be in Peru and have a face-to-face interview.

How important are qualifications and experience for finding teaching work in Peru?
I'd say that the two most important things for getting a teaching job in Peru is being a native speaker and a good teacher. Qualifications and experience help and the more prestigious institutes will want those, but there are still plenty of jobs out there for newbies. If you're not a native speaker, then you should be near native and have exams, such as the CAE or CPE to back that up. In order for you to be a good teacher you will have to be flexible, willing to work odd hours, and come prepared to class.

What are the main TEFL locations in Peru?
Lima, Trujillo, Arequipa, Cusco, and Piura.

How much does the average teacher earn? Is it possible to save any money?
Don't come to Peru if you're concerned about money. The average teacher can probably expect to earn around $600 a month. If you work at a couple institutes and teach private lessons, you can make more, maybe up to $1000. It's hard to save money, go to Korea or the Middle East for that. However, you can live well. You can eat out all the time, have a maid, and a decent apartment.

Is the market mostly for children or adults? What are the students like to teach?
In institutes, the market is mainly for high school and university students and businesspeople. Peruvians are very laid back and casual so teaching's not that stressful.

What are the best things about living in Peru?
It's exotic and not a common destination for TEFL teachers.

What are the challenges of living in the country?
Traffic is a nightmare. And if you're a woman, then you have to deal with very annoying machista men. Because Peru is a third world country, you will have to deal with typical third world problems such as disorganisation, a problematic government, thieves, and lots of litter.

How important is it to learn Spanish? Are there many opportunities for learning the language?
It always helps to learn the language of the country you're living in. That being said, you can get around without it. There are opportunities if you create them. You can study at an institute, set up a conversation exchange (intercambio), study on your own, or hire a teacher. If you want to learn, you will.

Additional Notes on Teaching English in Peru
As Sharon has rightly said, most jobs are to be found by being in Peru and approaching schools directly. However, it is still a good idea to try all options. There are sometimes jobs advertised online [see Dave's ESL Cafe and]. It's worth trying the online Peruvian newspapers. El Commercio on Sunday has a jobs section. Lists of schools can be found in the paginas amarillas for Peru. You can also visit Sharon's LA Job List for a list of schools.

Taking a TEFL certificate in Peru could be a good way of making contacts and finding teaching jobs there, as well as helping you learn new methods of teaching English.


Thursday 28 November 2013

What Teachers Can Buy With Their Office Budget

If you're lucky enough to get an office budget for the year you might be really excited to get free money, but are not sure what you should buy. Here are some things teachers often buy with their office budget.
  • Air fresheners 
  • Board markers
  • Books for teaching 
  • Coffee
  • Certificates for students
  • Desk organiser
  • Ergonomic keyboard 
  • Ergonomic mouse
  • Foot rest
  • Fridge
  • Herbal teas
  • Highlighters
  • Ink cartridge
  • Garbage can
  • Gel wrist guard for typing
  • Paper
  • Paper clips
  • Paper cups
  • Paper cutter
  • Paper tray
  • Pens
  • Printer
  • Push pins
  • Soap
  • Stickers
  • Stapler
  • Staples
  • Tissues
  • Vacuum


Tuesday 26 November 2013

Earn a TEFL Certificate Online with the University of Toronto

I'm a big proponent of online and distance education. I've personally taken distance education courses during high school that counted towards my BA as well as done both my masters from brick and mortar schools online. There are lots of benefits to taking courses online, like not having to travel and having access to many schools rather than just ones nearby. Online education isn't for everyone. I know that some people can't get motivated or are wary of distance degrees. Here's an article that discusses more about  the pros and cons of online TEFL certs.

I understand that it can be hard to separate the good from the bad, especially when you're dealing with a school you may never visit. Many people look at price when deciding which TEFL course to go with. While that is an issue, please remember that you get what you pay for. Finding a great deal on Groupons for a TEFL cert that's less than $100 probably isn't going to mean much to a potential employer. Here are somethings to look for when choosing a TEFL course.

I think that the big three in TEFL certs are CELTA, SIT, and Trinity. However, the problem with these is that none of them can be taken completely online. SIT and Trinity are face-to-face courses. CELTA just came out with a mostly distance TEFL cert a bit ago, but some parts of it still need to be taken face-to-face and some people aren't able to do that.

If you're looking to take a TEFL cert completely online, I'd recommend going with the University of Toronto's. It's from a legit institute (one of the best in the world), can be done completely online, and is affordable. By doing a TEFL cert online, you won't have to take time off work nor will you have to travel to the city where the TEFL course is given. If price is still an issue for you, if you enroll before the end of November you can save $200 on the new 150-hour TEFL course by entering the code "tefltips" when you enroll. After November, you can still use the code to save $50.

More and more employers and countries are requiring TEFL certs, so if you don't have one you should seriously consider getting one. While the University of Toronto does offer a 100-hour course, most employers do ask for at least 120 hours, so consider taking the 120 or 150 hour one.

Earning your TEFL certificate online from the University of Toronto gives you the best quality TEFL training, combined with job placement from a global leader in international teacher recruitment. Travel the world while teaching English overseas as a TEFL-certified teacher.

Advantages of the University of Toronto’s TEFL Online 
ESL teachers who enroll in the University of Toronto’s online course have four distinct advantages:

  1. The best quality training – The University of Toronto ranks in the top 20 universities worldwide. Graduates of the course receive a certificate with the official seal of the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), ensuring that the certificate is recognized internationally. 
  2. Worldwide accessibility – The University of Toronto’s TEFL course is 100% online and entirely self-paced. Access the course anywhere, at any time, from any internet-enabled device. 
  3. Opportunities for elective specialization – The 120-hour and 150-hour TEFL certificates give teachers the chance to choose elective units tailored to their professional interests. By specializing in areas of TEFL, graduates stand out in their fields. Areas of specialization include Teaching English to Arabic Speakers, Teaching Business English, Teaching English to Young Learners, Teaching English to Korean Speakers, and many others. 
  4. Job placement assistance – TEFL Online is partnered with Teach Away Inc., the world’s leading international teacher recruitment company. TEFL Online graduates receive free job placement consultation from Teach Away, giving them the best chance of landing a competitive teaching job overseas. 

TEFL Course Options 
ESL teachers have three options: the 100-hour, 120-hour, or 150-hour course.

100-hour course
  • Six core course units

120-hour course
  • Six core course units
  • 2 elective specialization units

*NEW* 150-hour course
  • Eight core course units
  • 2 elective specialization units
  • Additional unit on teaching abroad
Introductory promotion: To celebrate the launch of the 150-hour TEFL course, the University of Toronto is offering a very limited-time offer of $200 off the regular price – meaning that you’ll get the 150-hour course for the same price as the 120-hour course! Use coupon code "tefltips" (all lowercase letters) until November 30th, 2013!

About Teach Away 
Teach Away is the leading international teacher placement company. Every year, Teach Away’s international offices work with thousands of teachers to help them find teaching jobs in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Teach Away’s placement coordinators match educators with international teaching jobs and conduct pre-departure training to ensure that teachers are prepared to live abroad.

Every graduate of the University of Toronto’s TEFL course receives free job placement consultation with a Teach Away placement coordinator after completion of the course.


Sunday 24 November 2013

Job Site: Guardian Jobs

The Guardian has a good reputation and their Guardian Jobs is great if you're looking for a job in the UK or abroad. They have TEFL and international school positions out there. In addition to teaching jobs, they also have administration and management ones.

You can browse by category, job level, location, salary, function, sector, hours, contract, listing, time posted and the type of employer. There are some really good jobs out there, so take a look and see what you can find.

Got an idea for a job site?
Email me with your job site, name, and website (if you have one) and I'll post it ASAP.


Friday 22 November 2013

10 Days Left to Save $200 on the University of Toronto's online TEFL cert ends midnight November 30th 2013!

The University of Toronto has a new online 150-hour TEFL certification course. To celebrate they're offering $200 off during the month of November. Simply use promotion code "TEFL150". Here's some more information about teaching English abroad.


Sunday 17 November 2013

US Dept of Ed Report Shows Online Students Perform Better

Yep, that's right. The study which was published in May 2009 states that . . .
Students who took all or part of their course online performed better on average than students taking the same course through traditional face to face learning.
In addition. . .
Online learning was more effective across a wide range of professions, backgrounds and learning styles. 
Online education is especially useful for courses that require reflection. . .
Online learning is most effective when reflection is encouraged. 
Time is also key . . .
Online learning provides the opportunity to spend more time absorbing new knowledge and reflecting on how to apply that knowledge.
Hopefully this will change the way employers see legit online degrees. Some places in the Middle East, such as the Ministry of Education (but not the Ministry of Higher Education) in Oman. You can see the full report on the US Dept of Education website or the PDF


Thursday 14 November 2013

Job Site: Teach Anywhere

If you're a licensed teacher (or have a BA, TEFL cert, and 3 years TEFL experience) and are from one of the 7 English speaking countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, or the US), then you can literally travel the world with Teach Anywhere.

You can search for jobs or register with them to find out when upcoming jobs fit your profile. Although they're a recruiter, they tend to be one of the better one.

Got an idea for a job site?
Email me with your job site, name, and website (if you have one) and I'll post it ASAP.


Sunday 10 November 2013

How to Make Classroom Rules

The majority of teachers, if not all of them, have classroom rules. The problem with these rules is that they make the classroom into a dictatorship.

I was talking to some friends the other day and they suggested making rules for everyone: including the teacher.

Here's what we came up with. Simple, but it gets the point across. You could try doing something similar with your classes and have your students make the rules.

For the students
  • Come on time
  • Do your homework
  • Speak in English
For everyone
  • Listen to each other
  • Respect each other
  • Remember that it's ok to make mistakes
For the teacher
  • Finish class on time
  • Mark papers and exams within a week
  • Give advanced notice of tests


Thursday 7 November 2013

Poll Results October 2013: When will you go home?

October's poll was "When will you go home?" Here are the results.
  • within a year: 0% with 0 votes
  • within 2 years: 0% with 0 votes
  • within 5 years: 16.67% with 1 vote
  • within 10 years: 05 with 0 votes
  • Never: 16.67% with 1 vote
  • I don't know: 66.67% with 4 votes
Glad to see that I'm not the only one that isn't sure about the future. Be sure to vote in this month's poll: "What should be required to teach English abroad?"


Tuesday 5 November 2013

Save $200 on the University of Toronto's online TEFL cert University of Toronto has a new online 150-hour TEFL certification course. To celebrate they're offering $200 off during the month of November. Simply use promotion code "TEFL150". Offer ends midnight November 30th, 2013!


Friday 1 November 2013

International Baccalaureate (IBO schools)

If you're a licensed teacher then you should look into teaching at IBO schools. If you aren't a licensed teacher already, look at International Schools for more information about becoming one.

IBO schools are a specific type of international schools. Try reading the article, International Schools to find out more about how to find jobs, recruiting fairs, and recruiting schedules.

There are three sections in the IBO. Some schools only offer one of these programmes and some have all three.
  • PYP: primary years programme
  • MYP: middle years programme
  • IB: diploma programme
IBO's Teaching Awards
There are postgrad certificates and diplomas available for those who teach in or want to teach in IBO schools. See the IBO's website for more information. Murdoch University in Australia also has a PGCE available.


Thursday 31 October 2013

Discount Code for the University of Toronto's Online TEFL Certificate

**$50 off until Thursday October 31st, 2013, midnight (EST)** 

University of Toronto TEFL Online is celebrating that 95% of graduates would recommend the course to a friend or colleague. To celebrate, they are offering $50 off the 120-hour TEFL course to the first 10 people who sign up.


Monday 28 October 2013

Hearing Back From Interviews

After recently having gone through the interviewing process this winter I was a bit surprised about the lack of etiquette on the employer's side.

I was always taught that it was polite to send a thank you letter / email within 24 hours of having the interview. I would have thought that interviewers would try to let you know as soon as they made their decision.

Whether they decide to hire you or not, it's common courtesy for them to let you know. If they have decided not to hire you, it's nice to be able to know this so that you can cross them off your list. If they are going to hire you then it's also great to know so that you can stop looking for a job.

A common problem here in Korea is that places take a while to get back to you even when they do want to hire you. They might wait a couple weeks or even months. Then many people have already accepted other jobs and the school has to go through the process again.


Friday 25 October 2013

How to Choose the Right TEFL Course for You

The following is a guest post from Teach Away and an explanation of their online TEFL cert from the University of Toronto.

TEFL vs. TESL - What’s the difference? 
TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. If you are teaching English in a country where English is the official language, your students will be learning English as a second language.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. If you are teaching English as a foreign language, you are teaching English in a non-English speaking country; for instance, teaching in Vietnam.

Not All Certificates Are Created Equal
A TEFL course is ideal for teachers planning on teaching English overseas. Courses can vary from a 20 hour course all the way up to a Masters degree in TEFL. Regardless of the type of course you enrol in, a good one will give you the strategies necessary to run a well organized and effective class, and prepare you to plan lessons and work with your students.

There are some key things to look out for when selecting your TEFL certification. We’ve put together some guidelines to help you to identify a Great TEFL course as well as a Not-So-Great TEFL course.

A Great TEFL Course
Here are some thing a great TEFL course should have.

Course Length
  • 100 hours or more - courses of less than 100 hours are not usually recognized by schools looking for teachers
  • Recognized worldwide 
  • Reputable Educational institution providing and promoting the course (ie. University or College) 
  • Follows a curriculum written by professionals in English language education 
Course Work
  • Broken down into modules; students have a clear idea of what they will be learning in each lesson 
  • Students submit assignments for assessment, and write tests or quizzes before they can complete course modules, ensuring that they have a complete understanding of the material before moving on.

Feedback and Communication
  • Assistance is provided with any potential technical issues.
  • There is a number you can call, an email address, and/or Skype ID. Someone should get back to you within 24 hours
  • The course provides plenty of information prior to enrollment - for example, representatives hold webinars or information sessions, or provide detailed information on the course on their website or brochure. 
  • Students receive a certificate with a seal of authenticity from the developer of the course The certificate is professional-looking and can be shown to employers as proof of TEFL certification 

Job Assistance
  • Assistance with overseas job placement provided after you graduate 

A Not-So-Great TEFL Course
Here are some warning signs of a not-so-great TEFL course.

Course Length
  • 20 hours, 40 hours, 86 hours (anything less than 100 + hours) 

  • They have a nice looking website 
  • An English speaker wrote the course material 
Course Work
  • Is a click through of web pages 
  • No assessed assignments or tests, students can finish the course as long as they can use a mouse and keyboard 

Feedback and Communication
  • Technical support is provided … maybe (if you can find contact information) 
  • You’re told, “The best way to learn more about the course is to take the course!” 

  • Students receive a certificate of completion without a seal of authenticity
  • Employers question whether you made the certificate yourself. 

Job Assistance
  • Good luck! 

The University of Toronto and Teach Away
The University of Toronto has partnered with Teach Away to provide the 100 and 120 hour TEFL Online course. The University of Toronto is a top 20 university in Canada. Their partners at Teach Away have been recruiting educators since 2003 for educational institutions all over the world.

The University of Toronto’s TEFL Online 100 hour course covers the six core modules - touching on classroom management, lesson planning and the pedagogical principles of ESL teaching. Their 120 hour course includes two additional units of specialization (depending on your area of interest). Teaching English to young learners? To Arabic speakers? Test Preparation courses? You can find these specializations within the University of Toronto course.

If you are interested in finding out more information, TEFL Online regularly hosts webinars, and you are always able to call and speak with a representative. As well - during the course, if you hit any snags, TEFL’s friendly full time web team will be able to assist you.

When you are finished the course, TEFL Online’s relationship with Teach Away works to your benefit - happy to provide placement assistance to TEFL grads, they will help you to explore your employment options as a new TEFL teacher.

Click here to find out more information.


Thursday 24 October 2013

Quality, not Quantity, is Important When Applying for Jobs

Updated 2 December 2014

Applying in 2009
The first time I applied to universities in Korea I my motto was "beggars can't be choosers" because I wanted to get out of Peru. I really didn't have any job requirements other than working in Korea and applied to every university that didn't require . . .
I posted on Dave's Korean forum and was told by most people that there way no way that I'd get a university job even though I had a MA in TEFL and 3.5 years university teaching experience.

However, I figure that I had nothing to lose, everything to gain, and it was free to apply. I only looked at job adverts on Dave's ESL Cafe and there are a lot of job adverts there for Korea. I really don't know how many jobs I applied to: 50, 60, 70, 80? I applied starting in August 2008 and that's when the main hiring season starts since the school year starts on March 1st.

Out of the many, many universities I applied to, 8 got back to me and wanted to do a Skype interview. One of them (Ajou) later cancelled the interview because they decided to do in-person interviews only. (FYI: Ajou seems like a great uni gig, if you can get it. Turnover is super low and that's probably due to the 80 mil key money, 3 mil a month, 15 hours a week, 4 days a week, and 5 months paid vacation. I spent hours pouring over job adverts and they were on my list of the few good Korean uni jobs out there, but they weren't hiring when I was looking.)

Here's the places I interviewed at in fall 2008 and the results . . .
  • Woosong University: offered a job
  • Soonchunhyun University: offered a job
  • Sungkyunkwan University: offered a job
  • Honam University: offered a job
  • University of Ulsan: offered a job
  • Chonbuk National University: not offered a job
  • Hanseo University: not offered a job
5 job offers out of 7 interviews or 72% success rate. Seems pretty good, but numbers aren't everything. I'm not a rating's snob. I don't need to work at a top 10 university where I'm a small fish in a big pond. I'd rather work for a university that offers a better salary package, good vacations, and a fantastic work environment. Many times those can be found at the lesser-known universities. 

As I said before ratings nor contracts mattered to me then as I just wanted to get out of Peru. As luck would have it I tentatively accepted the first offer that came my way, but they didn't send me my contract right away. While I was waiting I got 4 other offers and turned the first 3 down. The last offer came on the last day of the year and I didn't know if the first offer was going to really come through. I accepted it and got the best of both worlds: a job at a top 10 uni, great salary package, good vacations, and a fantastic work environment.

Applying in 2012
The second time around my motto was "quality over quantity". For the past couple of years I had been scouring job boards and copying and pasting job adverts from around the world. I knew which universities in Korea I wanted to apply for and watched for those job adverts. I even emailed Ajou in spring 2012 and was told that they'd really like to interview me, but didn't know if a position would open up. Incidentally they did have an opening for fall 2012, but I wasn't available until spring 2013. Oh well, everything happens for a reason. 

I had pretty high job requirements this time. I wanted 3 mil plus free housing or 3.5 mil without housing. I also wanted 5 months paid vacation and to work around 15 hours a week. I didn't care about ratings. In fact some of the top Korean universities out there are increasing their hours, decreasing vacations, and salaries aren't moving. I figured that I had another 3 years teaching experience at a top Korean university as well as another master degree and some presentations and publications. Jobs weren't as good as they used to be though and you can see that in this article about the quality of jobs in Korea. Seems like people were hanging onto their jobs or hiring within. I only found a few jobs that were worth applying to for me.  

Here are the places I applied to in fall 2012 and the results . . .
  • Keimyung University: didn't get an interview
  • Inha University: their advert was taken down and they told me that it had been put up by mistake since there were no openings.
  • Inha Technical College: didn't get an interview
  • Hanyang University: got an interview but didn't get a job offer
  • Dongduk University: got an interview and a job offer
  • Xi'an Jiaotang-Liverpool University: got an inverview and a job offer 
  • Yeungnam University: got an interview but didn't get a job offer
  • GIFLE: got an interview but didn't get a job offer
  • Korean University in Sejong / Jochiwon: didn't get an interview
1 job offer out of 4 interviews or 25% success rate. Seems pretty bad doesn't it? But again numbers aren't everything. The universities I applied to paid well and had 5 months vacation. They only required 9-15 hours of teaching a week and most of them had you teach 3 or 4 days a week instead of 5. Although I only got one job offer that's all you need. It's like being second choice, it doesn't matter as long as you get the job.

Waiting Time for an Offer
Some people have asked me how long it takes for employers to get back to you and make a job offer. Usually, the longer you have to wait the less likely you'll get the job. Hopefully you'll hear from them within two week. That being said, there's always hope! Some universities dilly-dally and take forever to make their decision often because they need the president of the university to sign off on it. Others offer jobs right away even before the president has signed off, and will tell you that there's no guarantee that the president will approve (though usually it's just a formality). 

According to Korean law, universities have to interview 3 people for every position. Few people will put all their eggs in one basket and usually apply to more than one job. This means that if there are 5 positions, they'll interview 15 people and offer 5 people the job, right? However, it doesn't mean that those 5 people will accept the position (especially if the university takes a while to get back to them). That means they'll move on to their second choice, which could be you. You shouldn't care if you're second choice, because it really means that you're their first choice at the moment; they've written the other people off. Speaking from personal experience, I knew that I was second choice for a job when they called one university on December 31st and offered me a job. I happily accepted (as it is a top university in Korea) and signed the contract a couple hours later. 

More info
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. 


Thursday 17 October 2013

5 Reasons Expats Don't Learn the Language

If you're looking to go abroad you might have lofty plans to learn a language. While I think it's good to learn a language, you have to have realistic goals.

If you've lived abroad for a bit I'm sure you've run into people who eagerly tell you their plans to go abroad (often to teach English) for a year and become fluent. More likely than not this will not happen.

Sure, there are plenty of people who have learnt the local language, but it takes a plan that you need to follow through and it often takes more than a year.

Here are some reasons why expats don't learn the local language.   
  1. Not immersed in the language. If you're going abroad to teach English, you're going to be immersed in English, not the foreign language. You're being paid to speak English after all.
  2. No time to study/not a priority. If you're going abroad in order to learn a foreign language you're going to have to focus entirely on that and it's hard to do if you're working full-time. Other people don't make it a priority. Perhaps they'd rather learn about the local cuisine, art, sport, or simply spend time with their family.
  3. Not in country long enough. Often takes a couple years to learn a language well.
  4. Not a useful language. For expats who want to learn a language and use it back home, uncommon languages might not be worth the time and effort.
  5. The people aren't helpful. Many times people downright refuse to try to understand you, which is really hard for English teachers who spend most of their days trying to decipher bad English. Sometimes they ramble on in their language without trying to simplify it at all. In addition, it's much easier for people who have studied English for a handful of years to practice their English on you than it is for you to practice their language if you've only studied it for a bit.
If you think you can overcome these difficulties than try reading . . .


Monday 14 October 2013

Job Site: Schools dot ac

They've got a directory of international schools all over the world as well as a recruitment fair. If you're looking for an international school job, then is a great place to start.

You can search by continent or country and they also have a world map of all their schools. Their recruitment fair is free and there are over 1500 schools that are a member of their site, so it's well worth your while.

Got an idea for a job site?
Email me with your job site, name, and website (if you have one) and I'll post it ASAP.


Thursday 10 October 2013

LGBTQIA and Teaching Abroad

Where you go depends on the treatment you'll get and whether you can be open about your sexuality. Some places blatantly discriminate, whether it be for lookism, ageism (being too old or too young), racism, and sexism.

In some countries it's illegal to be gay and punishable by death or prision. Other countries recognise same-sex unions and even offer partners the same rights as heterosexual spouses.

Some schools may be more open to LGBT teachers than others. Religious schools would probably not be open to gay teachers. Schools in countries such as Thailand or Holland would probably be more accepting. Here are some useful links below.


Tuesday 8 October 2013

Poll Results September 2013: How many lessons do you prepare a week?

September's poll was "How many lessons do you prepare a week?" Here are the results.
  • 1: 7.14% with 1 vote
  • 2-3: 21.43%% with 3 votes
  • 4-5: 35.71% with 5 votes
  • 6-8:7.14% with 1 vote
  • 9-10: 7.14% with 1 vote
  • 10+: 21.43%% with 3 votes
 Be sure to vote in this month's poll: "When will you go home?"


Saturday 5 October 2013

Hot Topic: Cell Phones, If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Updated 5 October 2014

I recently wrote about how I had given up on trying to take cell phones away from students. I think that classroom discipline is hard enough as it is. Since then I’ve come across a couple of articles that have ideas on how teachers can integrate cell phones into lessons for students from elementary school to university.

In my classes I collect all the cell phones at the beginning of class and only give them to the students if I'm going to do an activity with their cell phones.

More and more teachers are moving away from teacher-centred classes to student-centred ones. Smartphones and cellphones can help make this possible as students learn to teach their peers. Here are some ways students can use cell phones in class.
  • Blog: Have students blog about their experiences. You can also use it for homework. 
  • Calculator: Great for math classes. 
  • Call: Make phone role-plays more realistic by sending half the class out of the room and having them phone their partner. 
  • Dictionary: Great for language learners. They can use L1-L2 dictionaries or L2-L2 dictionaries. 
  • Photos: Have students take photos of the board. That way they have all the notes right there on their phone.
  • Podcasts: Students can create them and listen to other students’ as well. 
  • Questions on blogs and forums: Create an intranet blog or forum for students to ask and answer questions. 
  • Quizzes and Polls: During class have students answer questions using a poll format. They can see the results in real time. 
  • Record: Students can record their voice or make a video. It's great for pronunciation practice or presentations.
  • Research: Students love surfing the net. Put it to good use and have them do research that way.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Send all the students out of the classroom and start texting them clues on what they should find. Have them send a photo to prove they were there. 
  • Text Students Questions: Send out a mass text at the start of the day and let students know that the first few students to respond will get a reward, anything from treats to no homework to extra credit points work.
  • Timer: Have students talk for X amount of time and time it when they do so. 
  • Translate: Google translate isn’t the best, but you could use it to your advantage. Translate a sentence from their L1 their L2. Give them the L2 and have them translate it back into the L1 and then re-translate it into their L2. 


Tuesday 1 October 2013

Teaching in Switzerland

Working in the EU is hard for people without EU passports, but it's still possible. See the article, EU for non-EU passport holders for more info. You might also want to take a look at teaching at international schools and teaching exchanges and fellowships. Switzerland is hard for both EU and non-EU passport holders alike, but there are still ways to legally live and/or work in Switzerland. You can find 8 ideas below.

1. Commute
Switzerland is hard even for EU citizens to work in. My friend is British and wants to work there. She can't. So she's looking into living in France on the border and spending the weekends in Switzerland.

2. International Schools
You can try to get a job at an international school in one of the countries near Switzerland. If you're interested in working in the EU and spending the weekends in Switzerland, see EU for non-EU passport holders for more info.

3. Investor and Self-employment Visas in Switzerland
offers an investor visa for those from non-EU countries. Those from EU countries can get a self-employment visa or an independent visa.

4. Fellowships in Switzerland
There are legal ways to work in the EU and Switzerland through fellowships and teaching exchanges. DECS is one of the organisations that places teachers in Switzerland, as well as Denmark, France, Germany, and the UK.

5. Au Pair, Nanny, and Governess Jobs
Au Pairs are usually under the age of 30 and don't have formal childcare qualifications. Nannies do have formal qualifications. Governesses usually teach the children as well as care for them. You can find a list of programmes here, WHV and short term jobs.

6. Marriage
If you get married, you can legally live there.

7. Study
If you study in Switzerland, you may be able to work part-time and then find a job in Switzerland after graduation. You could even study a foreign language like French of German. 

8. More info about the EU and Switzerland

You can find lots of info Europe for non-Europeans. Read through it all and then look at the bottom. There are country specific programmes. The Ministries of Education of France and Spain have programmes that place Asst English teachers around those countries. You won't make much, about €700 a month, which is about $1000, but you'll be in Europe legally and could easily fly to Switzerland on airlines such as Easy Jet and Ryan Air.

9. Move to a different country
Many times it's easier to live in a third country. I lived in my husband's for 6 years, now we live in Korea. We're both foreigners and it's much easier that way.

Switzerland has been an oasis for many years and because of that it's harder to live in legally than other countries. However, nothing is impossible. With a bit of luck, hard work, and research you should be able to go there.


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