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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