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.


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