Saturday 28 September 2013

Teaching Without Emotion

Have you heard these sayings?
  • Learning should be fun.
  • I'm just a dancing monkey.
  • English is exciting.
I'll never forget during my first year of teaching my boss told me that I should make my class more exciting. I asked her if she could show me what she meant. She taught my class of about eighteen 5 year old for about half an hour. Her class consisted of the following.
  1. She held up a paper with a drawing and the word "come" on it.
  2. She danced around and shouted "come!"
  3. The students jumped around and giggled and went to her.
  4. She held up a paper with a drawing and the word "go" on it.
  5. She danced around and shouted "go!"
  6. The students jumped around and giggled and ran away from her.
She did this for 30 minutes. The students were supposed to learn two words in the entire class and didn't have to say anything (yes, I realise that students don't have to produce language at the beginning, but if they only have to learn 2 words a class, that's not much, especially for children).

After watching that performance, I thought if this is what TEFL is about I want no part of it. While I understand that learning can be fun and running around and giggle can be a part of the classroom, to do it for 30 minutes is overkill.

There's a time and a place for everything. It seems that children do need to have more fun as adults. We have a longer attention span and are used to lectures and the like by the time we get to university. What galls me is when students give teachers low evaluations because the class wasn't fun. I'm sorry, but I've yet to see a syllabus that has "students will have fun" in class. It's just not done. Students should be taking classes to learn. In fact try asking your students and most of them will tell you they're in your class to better their English (and the rest will say they're there because someone made them take the class, like their parents or boss). So why is it that they're there to learn English but then complain when the class isn't fun? If they're learning, why complain?

A strong proponent of boring classes is Noam Chomsky. Despite this, he's one of the top ten quoted authors (living or dead) and he's an incredibly boring speaker, yet all his lectures are packed. He defends his style saying "I'm a boring speaker and I like it that way.... I doubt that people are attracted to whatever the persona is.... People are interested in the issues, and they're interested in the issues because they are important.We don't want to be swayed by superficial eloquence, by emotion and so on."

So there you have it. Learning can be fun and exciting, however, it's not the end all.


Tuesday 24 September 2013

Job Site: Quality Schools International

Another site for those looking for international school jobs, this one is Quality Schools International has a great site: simple and easy to navigate, and it's pretty to look at as well. All the schools on this site are non-profit international schools. They've got recruitment fairs as well as positions that you can apply to directly online.

There are about 4 dozen schools that are part of QSI. Recruitment mainly takes part at the beginning of the year. Like other job fairs, you'll have to pay a small fee, though it's worth it since you can interview with several schools. Many schools prefer teaching couples, so be aware of that when you apply.

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 20 September 2013

How Schools Can Motivate Teachers

Many schools seem to want to give teachers as little as possible and wonder why teachers don't want to put a lot of effort into their jobs. They should look to Google. Consistently rated as the best place to work, Google knows that its employees are worth their weight in gold. Here are some benefits that top companies around the world often give their employees

  • Academic freedom
  • Challenging work
  • Possibility for advancement
  • Prestigious school
  • Stability
  • Variety
  • Well-developed curriculum and materials
Outside of Work 
  • Access to a shopping centre, gym, library, meeting rooms, etc.
  • Car and petrol allowance
  • Chance to learn the language  
  • Club membership
  • Dental insurance
  • Flights home for you and your family once a year
  • Free or subsidized childcare
  • Free or heavily discounted international schooling for up to 2 (sometimes 3) children
  • Furnished housing (or a housing and furniture allowance)
  • Good expat community
  • Livable city
  • Long vacations 
  • Medical/health insurance
  • Shipping/baggage allowance
  • Storage allowance
  • Utilities allowance
  • Work-life balance

  • How many days a week you teach
  • Few meetings
  • Few office hours / desk warming hours
  • Little paperwork
  • Number of teaching hours
  • Possibility for overtime
  • Possibility for outside work

  • Helpful faculty and staff
  • Honest management
  • Ethical conduct
  • Fair treatment / no favouritism 
  • Getting paid on time
  • Keeping promises
  • No micromanagement
  • Transparent evaluations

  • Small classes
  • Student motivation
  • Student age
  • Classes are not cancelled often or if they are, enough notice is given
  • Computer (hard to believe that in this day and age some places don't give you a computer).
  • Contract completion bonus
  • Contract re-signing bonus
  • Copyright laws are respected
  • Great retirement package 
  • High (tax-free if possible) salary
  • Free gourmet meals
  • Free gourmet coffee, teas, juices, etc
  • Free snacks (Google states that employees should be within 150 feet of food)
  • Language classes  
  • On the job training
  • Sports facilities: pool, bowling alley, table tennis, screen golf
  • Stock options
  • Teaching facilities 
  • Your own office  
  • Teaching interesting classes  
  • Visa support
  • Yearly bonus


Wednesday 18 September 2013

10 More Exam Tips for Teachers

A couple years ago I wrote 10 tips for assessing students. Since then I have thought of 10 more tips, so here you are!
  1. Schedule students: if you're giving oral exams, don't just tell the whole class to show up at 9am. Give them a specific time. That way they won't waste time waiting nor will they make tons of noise in the hallway. 
  2. Have a waiting room: it's annoying for both the teacher and the student when other students are in the hallway making noise.
  3. Bring exta materials: white out, pens, pencils, and erasers.
  4. Have different exams: give exam A to one row of students and exam B to another row. It'll cut down on cheating.
  5. Use rubrics: especially if you have a subjective exam.
  6. Walk around the room: before you give the test make sure there are no answers on the desk, walls, chairs, etc. Walk around during the exam to cut down on cheating and afterwards to make sure no one forgot anything.
  7. Have a place for their stuff: since backpacks, coats, books, etc aren't allowed at desks you need to provide a space where students can put them.
  8. Don't use names: if you have a subjective test you might favour students you know. Have them use their student ID instead.
  9. Write new tests: don't re-use old tests, you're just asking for trouble.
  10. Make sure students leave: there's no reason they need to linger outside the classroom when they finish. If they want to wait, send them to the waiting room. 


Tuesday 17 September 2013

National Geographics Map of non-EU workers in the EU

Some people have said that it's nearly impossible to work in the EU. I wrote an article about non EU-ers working in the EU and National Geographics Magazine came out with this in March 2012, which proves that it is possible to work there. Some countries' such as Austria, Spain, and Estonia foreign-born population is more than 10% of the total population.


Saturday 14 September 2013

Job Site: World Class Schools

If you're a UK citizen looking to teach in the US, then take a look at World Class Schools. They have two year contracts available to licensed British teachers.

All teachers should be familiar with the National Curriculum, the International Primary Curriculum, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. You'll work in one of 6 schools around the US: Washington, Boston, Houston, Chicago, Charlotte, and New York. It's a great chance to see the US, so take a look at their site today.

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.


Wednesday 11 September 2013

Why College Students Need Storage Space

The following post is from a guest blogger.

Like teachers who move abroad, students leaving home for college is a big step in any of our lives, and the first taste of independence for many students every year. This often entails moving out from the family home, and taking as many possessions as possible. But what about larger items, or those belongings that you don’t want to move with you? What about international-bound students, preparing to travel overseas for study? In many circumstances, it may be a preferable option to choose storage space, in order to hold on to important possessions that cannot be transported. In these cases, self-storage can be the best option, and an increasing number of students worldwide are now turning to self-storage in order to safeguard their belongings while they study.

Image source:

Self storage space has a number of key advantages for students, over and above the alternatives. Perhaps the most obvious benefit lies in the cost of self storage, as opposed to managed storage units. Self storage is more cost effective, because of the self-service type model these types of facilities operate. This keeps the costs of running the facility to a minimum, which makes it easier to offer lower cost storage for those who need it. This is perfect for students, who are already under immense financial pressure as a result of tuition fees and expenses.

In terms of cheap storage units more generally, students can use this space until they can afford to buy their own home or apartment. This is a much lower-cost alternative to renting a home privately, and allows students to stay in college dorms without the need to junk all of their possessions. This is also a great alternative to cluttering up the parental garage, and means students can have more flexible access to their possessions whenever required. Because storage space is often secured to an industrial standard, this ensures your belongings are as safe as possible for as long as you need them to be.

Image source:

Perhaps one of the main advantages of secure storage space as a college student is that you can then choose which possessions to take with you to college. This is especially if you've accumulated a lot of stuff or have a family. Many students studying master degrees in TEFL find it can be more difficult to get back into the groove of studying again. In most cases, this will be only the most important belongings, and only specified items of clothing that make the cut. But rather than throwing out the remainder, or carting it with you to your college dorm room, you can instead choose to lock it away until your studies are over. With self-storage, you can access your belongings wherever you like, and most facilities offer flexible terms to suit your needs. This makes storage a convenient, space-saving tool for students nationwide.

Leaving for college is a big step, and it is all too easy to forget the little details. In reality, it is probably impractical to take everything you own with you, and college dorms are notoriously small with only very basic storage. Choosing a third-party storage unit can solve much of the logistical headaches of handling your possessions, leaving you to focus on preparing for your studies.


Tuesday 10 September 2013

5 Tips for Snail Mailing a Job Application

In this day and age emailing a job application has become the norm. However, there are still employers out there who would rather get a snail mail job application. Maybe it's because it takes more time and effort or maybe it's because they're fighting technology. Whatever the reason, there are certain things to keep in mind when you're sending a job application by mail.

If you're going to be posting a job application remember these 5 tips.
  1. Don't fold the paper. Buy a big A4 (8.5 x 11) envelope and stick all the papers in.
  2. Use nice paper. Get thick, good quality paper to use for your CV and cover letter. Copies can be on regular paper.
  3. Use good penmanship. If you're going to write the address on the envelope write nicely. If you can't, find someone who can or make a label, print it out and stick it on.
  4. Use a real photo. Many countries require a photo on your CV. When you're applying by email you usually have one on your CV. If you're applying by snail mail, delete that and glue a real photo on the top.
  5. Make nice copies. Many places require copies of your documents, be sure they turn out nice and don't have ink spots, black lines, or any other funny things on them.


Saturday 7 September 2013

Poll Results August 2013: Are TEFL certs useful?

August's poll was "Are TEFL certs useful?" Here are the results.
  • Yes: 73.33% with 11 votes
  • No: 13.33% with 2 votes
  • It depends: 13.33% with 2 votes
Be sure to vote in next month's poll: How many lessons do you prepare a week?


Thursday 5 September 2013

Pros and Cons of a Teachers' Room

Having a teachers' room has its advantages and disadvantages. Don't confuse teachers' room with a shared office. In a teachers' room, there's usually a couple of big tables and shared work stations. No one has their own space. It's often used in elementary and high schools where teachers can go between classes. Let's take a look at some of them.

You might also be interested in reading

  • Lots of team spirit, bonding, motivating, and energy
  • Builds community
  • Less hierarchy and more transparency
  • You can share resources

  • It's hard to stay on task with all the comings and goings
  • Cramped
  • Few resources
  • Less privacy and security


Wednesday 4 September 2013

Pros and Cons of a Shared Office

Having your a shared office has its advantages and disadvantages. By shared office, I don't mean a teachers' room. In an office you have your own space, desk, computer, etc. Let's take a look at some of them.

You might also be interested in reading

  • You can share office resources
  • It builds community
  • People tend to be happier and more laid-back
  • There's less hierarchy

  • You might have cubicles
  • There's less security and less privacy
  • It's noisy
  • You might have to come early or stay late in order to get work done


Tuesday 3 September 2013

Pros and Cons of a Private Office

Having your own office has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at some of them. You might also be interested in reading

  • You have your own space
  • Peace and quiet
  • It's a status symbol
  • You can get your work done

  • Less collaboration between your co-workers
  • No sense of community
  • Harder to communicate; you have to arrange a meeting, call, or email
  • Less motivating


Monday 2 September 2013

Pros and Cons of Having Your Own Classroom

Having your own classroom has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at some of them. You might also be interested in reading

  • It's your space so you can personalise the classroom
  • You can decorate it how you want
  • You can re-arrange the furniture
  • It's convenient
  • You'll have less interaction with other teachers
  • You might have to clean it
  • You're responsible for the students' belongings and the school's materials
  • You might have to spend your own money to decorate it


Sunday 1 September 2013

Teaching / Working in Australia or New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand offer a whole new perspective on the world. Surf and sun and a laidback atmosphere combined with friendly people make it a great place to live. It is possible to teach there even if you don't have an Australian or New Zealand passport.

There are a couple programmes that you can go through in order to work Down Under. Some of the info below was taken from a book written by Susan Griffith called Teaching English Abroad. You might also want to take a look at Teaching at International Schools and Teaching Exchanges and Fellowships.

Australia: Useful Information
BUNAC also offers a working holiday visa for those that qualify. Good places for job searches are Seek, Job Search, My Career, and MEC. Check out Australian Immigration which has working holiday visas for those from . . .
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malta
  • Malaysia
  • the Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • the UK
  • the USA. 
Australian Language Schools
TESOL has useful information for TEFL teachers. There are many language schools in Australia, but the ones below have been known to hire non-Australians.

Australian Working Opportunities
You'll have to be a qualified teacher or enrolled in a programme that leads to qualified teacher status in order to participate in most of these programmes, BUNAC is the exception to the rule. Information about verifying overseas qualifications can be found at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship as well as the Teacher Registration Authority.

New Zealand: Useful Information
BUNAC  offers a working holiday visa for those that qualify. New Zealand Immigration allows those with passports from . . .
  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • the Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • the Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • the UK
  • the USA
  • Uruguay. 
New Zealand Language Schools

New Zealand Working Opportunities
You'll have to be a qualified teacher or enrolled in a programme that leads to qualified teacher status in order to participate in most of these programmes, BUNAC is the exception to the rule. NZQA is a governmental agency that regulates schools.

International Schools Jobs

Short-term and Working Holiday Visas




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