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Considering Career Change to TEFL–Advice & Opinions?

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  • EsSayyad
    Participant
    15 August, 2017 at 19:32
    • Total posts: 1

    Hi all! I’m a 34 year-old American man with a background in creative writing and Arabic who’s considering making a career change into teaching English abroad and has some questions. I’ve lived abroad in Egypt (2 years) and for shorter periods in Mexico (homestay/language study), Honduras (volunteer journalism), and Belize (volunteer archaeology). I speak Spanish and Arabic with conversational fluency (the Arabic’s a bit rusty now) and bad French. I’ve worked hospitality and marketing for the last 10 years or so but have found myself pretty dissatisfied with both. Given my love of travel, language (English and others), and people, TEFL seems like a natural fit, BUT:

    1) I’ve never taught before and I’m not sure how far to go just starting out. I’ve been speaking to the faculty at Colorado State University (the closest school) and they think I’m a strong candidate for their Masters program, but I’m wary at jumping into something so quickly. That said, I did a bit of volunteer English teaching in Cairo and generally liked it. I’d like an honest-to-God career (sales and hotels aren’t cutting it) where I can live internationally and play to my strengths. Thoughts?

    2) How’s the money? I’m not materialistic, so I don’t need to be bringing home six figures, but I’ve heard the Gulf states can be a great market, and with an MA (assuming I go that route) and knowledge of Arabic (plus firsthand experience in Middle Eastern culture), I think I’d have a good shot in the UAE or Saudi. But what’s it like teaching in these schools? My ex wife taught while we lived in Egypt and didn’t much like it due to discipline problems and the general expectation that since the parents were paying, the kids got A’s. Any experience teaching in the region?

    3) Related to #1, what are thoughts on doing this long-term? I’m not a fresh-out-of-undergrad kid hoping to put off life for a couple years, so if you could give me a no-holds-barred sense of what doing this for twenty years looks like, I’d really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance!

    dan
    Moderator
    5 September, 2017 at 15:20
    • Total posts: 770

    1) I’ve never taught before and I’m not sure how far to go just starting out. I’ve been speaking to the faculty at Colorado State University (the closest school) and they think I’m a strong candidate for their Masters program, but I’m wary at jumping into something so quickly. That said, I did a bit of volunteer English teaching in Cairo and generally liked it. I’d like an honest-to-God career (sales and hotels aren’t cutting it) where I can live internationally and play to my strengths. Thoughts?

    I think you’d find it difficult to get started if you didn’t jump in. You’ll need a TEFL qualification of some sort to be considered for most jobs, and experiencing that first job is really the only way to know if it’s right for you! My question would be how much does the Masters program cost and how long does it take? There are other (possibly cheaper and shorter??) TEFL qualifications that you could take to get started. Just to be clear – nothing against the Colorado State University program – I don’t know anything about their program, and it may be a perfect fit both in terms of cost and duration. I’m just saying it’s worth checking all options. Also check out the qualifications required by employers in the countries where you think you’d like to work (check out some job offers for this) to be sure that any TEFL course you take will be accepted.

    2) How’s the money? I’m not materialistic, so I don’t need to be bringing home six figures, but I’ve heard the Gulf states can be a great market, and with an MA (assuming I go that route) and knowledge of Arabic (plus firsthand experience in Middle Eastern culture), I think I’d have a good shot in the UAE or Saudi. But what’s it like teaching in these schools? My ex wife taught while we lived in Egypt and didn’t much like it due to discipline problems and the general expectation that since the parents were paying, the kids got A’s. Any experience teaching in the region?

    TEFL salaries are not normally that great, although in developing countries you can normally earn enough to live very comfortably locally (but not to save significant amounts to bring home). Many Gulf state salaries are the exception. You will most likely need an MA in TESOL and probably several years experience to land one of those jobs though – it’s rare to find one open to a newly qualified teacher, but they do exist if you look hard enough!

    3) Related to #1, what are thoughts on doing this long-term? I’m not a fresh-out-of-undergrad kid hoping to put off life for a couple years, so if you could give me a no-holds-barred sense of what doing this for twenty years looks like, I’d really appreciate it.

    To do it for 20 years you have to really love the teaching – enough that the low salaries and any other negatives don’t matter. But there are career options – Director of Studies positions in language schools, getting into teacher training…. which can be really rewarding.

    Hope that helps.

    Dan

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