Thursday 28 March 2013

The Move Towards Not Using Books in TEFL

Like fashion, teaching methodology seems to fall in and out of favour. For the past couple of years there seems to be a move away from using books and having the teacher create all the material. Proponents of this method say that the teacher knows the students' needs better than a textbook writer and can therefore better cater to their needs.

While this may be true, most (good) textbook writers are very experienced teachers and writers which is the reason they have a book published and you don't. In addition, teachers have enough on their plate with grading, rubics, creating exams, meetings, and planning, why should they have to take on more work?

Furthermore, when a teacher leaves, unless they've left a complete curriculum behind, the new teacher has no idea what the students have learned exactly. With a textbook, the teacher can see the ideas as well as the exercises they have completed.

I can see the pros and cons of this, more pros I believe, I think that there can be a happy medium: use a book as a guide and then supplement as necessary.


Sunday 24 March 2013

Job Site: Amideast

If you're looking to teach in the Middle East, then you might want to check out Amideast. It's an American institution that has connections with a variety of countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebannon, Morroco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

Jobs vary from teaching English to administrative positions, such as director or accountant. English teaching positions are often advertised on Dave's ESL Cafe, whereas the admin positions are on their website.

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 17 March 2013

Top 200 Jobs of 2011 and 2012

Just what are the top jobs out there? You’d be surprised.

Using work environment, stress, physical demands, and career outlook as their rating methods for 2011, Career Cast has put together a list for the best and worst jobs in 2011. In 2011 teacher was number 100.

Here are the best and worst jobs of 2012. It seems like money is getting to be more and more important. The five categories in 2012 are now environment, income, outlook, stress, and physical demands


Thursday 14 March 2013

Are Caps On Times You Can Renew Your Teaching Contract Good?

In the TEFL World
In Korea it's very common for universities to have caps on the number of years you can stay at that university. This is due to pension, since after five years, the uni has to upp the amount they contribute to your fund. Five years is often the max a uni will let you stay, but some unis have limited it to four, three, or even two years.

In the International School World
Some international schools will only let you stay on an international hire contract for a couple years and then will switch you over to a local hire contract in order to save money.

Good or Bad?
Caps can be good and bad for teachers as well as employers. Let's take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages.

  • Teachers students won't be learning the same material over and over again. Teachers often use the same material and if there is a cap, then the teacher has to leave and a new one will come in with new material.
  • It's cheaper for schools to get new teachers.
  • Changing jobs can keep teachers motivated.
  • When new teachers come to a new school they often bring new ideas with them.

  • Employers have to put in lots of time to look for new teachers.
  • It creates animosity since teachers have no job stability.
  • As teachers get older it gets harder for mature teachers to get jobs.
  • Teachers feel like their employers don't want to invest in them.


Tuesday 12 March 2013

Poll Results February 2013: What do you teach?

February's poll was "What do you teach?" Here are the results.
  • General English: 80% with 4 votes
  • Specialised English: 0% with 0 votes
  • Both: 20% with 0 votes
Be sure to vote in next month's poll: Do you belong to a professional organisation?


Sunday 10 March 2013

6 Items that Make a Job Ideal

I checked out Cool Careers for Dummies from my local library when I was home this summer. I found out that while people talk about making tons of money, it’s not at the top of the list when it comes to what people are looking for in an ideal job. The book stated 6 items that people list when they think about their ideal job.I definitely recommend this book. It makes for an interesting read. You can buy it from Amazon or Book Depository.
  1. Great boss and great co-workers. It helps to work with good people. Having a boss that’s not breathing down your neck all the time is also worth its weight in gold. 
  2. Moderate workload. No one wants to burn the midnight oil, take work home with them, or work on the weekends. 
  3. Interesting work. Doing something that’s not mind-numbingly boring has a lot going for it. 
  4. Moderate stress level. Tons of responsibilities and stress lead to a horrible work environment. 
  5. Able to win at office politics. We all know that we can’t get rid of office politics, so the next best thing is being able to win at them. 
  6. Fair compensation. You don’t have to be a millionaire, but everyone wants to be paid what they’re worth.
It also discusses 6 things that a boss should do to ensure they hire the best people.
  1. Do simulations at interviews.
  2. Ask for 10 references. Call all of them at night after they've gone home, this way the onus is on them to call you and it's an easy out for them if the person wasn't a good employee. Ask them only to call you back if that person is outstanding. Only hire that person if at least 7 people call back.
  3. Inspire, don't micromanage.
  4. Communicate well.
  5. Be good at chairing meetings.
  6. Be ethical.


Sunday 3 March 2013

Demystifying the TEFL

The following is a guest post by Sean Lords:

After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education, Sean Lords packed up his bags and went to Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master's degree.

Gearing up for a year of teaching abroad can be an exciting time. Your future is about to radically change. Everything that is familiar and comfortable is about to get flipped on its head as the day to your departure grows nearer and nearer. But before you can pack your bags and head off to the airport, there are a number of preliminary steps that must be in place beforehand. From securing a passport to having an approved visa, you will definitely want to allot an ample amount of time to make sure all of your ducks in a row. For most, the need to take and pass a TEFL course is another part of the planning process for overseas teaching. The TEFL is a certificate that shows you have successfully completed a course on English language instruction and possess the necessary skills to teach others the intricacies of the language. Below are some great tips and facts to consider when preparing your TEFL course.

The first thing to look for when considering what TEFL course to choose from is what sort of accreditation they hold. How long has this institution been around? While the process of creating a TEFL certified school is by no means easy, it is not as regulated as other forms of education. This unfortunately means that schools that offer drastic price differences than others and boast the majority of their classroom time as, “online hours” are generally not going to equip you with the proper tools that a more accredited course would.

While more classroom time can seem like a burden, the truth is the more teacher and peer contact time you have, the better honed you skills will become and consequently your performance as an ESL teacher will increase.

Job Placement 
The next thing to look for in a TEFL course is what sort of job placement opportunities/success rates the institution has. If a course offers no placement services, you might want to turn your attention elsewhere.

TEFL job placement services are a valuable commodity. They have the potential to open you up to teaching locations and jobs that you were previously unaware of. In the same sense, inquire about their job placement success. How many of their graduates found work soon after they completed the course? Generally, most TEFL courses will have some data showing these numbers.

User Reviews 
The internet is your best friend when it comes to deciding on a TEFL course. If you have narrowed your choices down to a few course givers, go online and see what others are saying about their experiences there. User reviews can be a good way to judge the quality of a course. Keep in mind that reviews of this nature generally tend to be polarized in one direction or the other. You will usually find glowing praise or biting criticism, so take each statement with a grain of salt. However, if there is an excess of negative reviews, perhaps it will be in your best interest to look into another establishment.

What to Expect 
A TEFL course is made up of about 120 hours of instruction. Depending on the company you go through, this can be broken into classroom/instruction and online hours. As stated before, try to avoid a course with a heavy dose of online hours. While you will still learn the necessary skills to be an effective teacher, you will be robbing yourself of classroom interaction and teacher contact time.

The culmination of your TEFL course will see you giving a mock lesson in front of your class. For some, this can be quite nerve wracking as the conclusion of your lesson is turned into a critique sessions with the rest of your classmates telling you what they enjoyed and what could be improved upon. Remember, everyone is in the same boat here so don’t get too worried about this portion of the class. Not to mention a class of peers will generally be better behaved than your upcoming class of 15 rambunctious 12-year-olds.

Catering Your Resume 
Once you have completed your course, it’s all about marketing yourself. Take another look at your resume. What can you add and take away now that you have taken your TEFL course? Remember, you are applying for a job overseas where most likely, the individual reading your resume will not have English as the 1st language. Putting on your year stint as a barista for Starbucks may show steady employment to the average employer but to the interviewer of an ESL school it may appear irrelevant and fall out of the scope of what they are looking for. Rather than hurt your chances at employment, capitalize on the lesson planning skills you learned, the extensive amount of classroom hours you have had or perhaps your creativity in lesson planning. Generally, anything centered around education and instruction are going to make you stand out the most.

Have you or someone you know recently completed a TEFL course and have a few gems to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.


Friday 1 March 2013

Universities vs. Unigwons in Korea

University jobs can usually be broken down into two distinct groups: teaching at the university or teaching at the university language institute (aka "unigwon" in Korea).

Whether you're looking to teach at a university or a university language institute, try taking a look at these tips on Dave's ESL Cafe. There are advantages and disadvantages to each as you can see below. Both groups have contracts. While it is possible for foreigners to get tenure at a university, it's pretty unlikely.

Advantages for University Institutes
  • Less planning
  • Less stressful
  • No office hours
  • Pretty easy job
  • No grading, or little grading
  • Little research, if any
  • Don't have to create materials
  • Less competition
  • Few staff meetings
  • Much better than teaching at a normal institute or a school
Disadvantages for University Institutes
  • More teaching hours
  • Less vacation
  • Teaching camps during breaks
  • Teach non-credit conversation courses
  • Shorter contracts, usually just for a semester or a year
  • Teaching visa, not a professor visa
  • Hourly pay, pay varies month to month
  • May be farmed out to other schools
  • May have split shifts
  • May have to teach children

Advantages for University Positions
  • Less teaching hours
  • More vacation
  • May have a TA
  • Teach credit courses
  • Longer contracts
  • Salary with benefits
  • Teach in one place
  • Block teaching time
  • Stable monthly pay
  • Teaching young adults

Disadvantages for University Positions
  • Office hours
  • More stress
  • More research
  • Expected to attend conferences
  • Expected to give workshops
  • Expected to publish
  • Create curriculum
  • Exams and grading
  • Staff meetings
  • Professor visa
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.

Your Opinion 
What do you think about TEFLing in Korea?


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