So, I have a university degree and I’m a native speaker of English. I have done quite a lot of travelling and working abroad (mostly in Western countries). I’m currently unemployed and thought teaching in China for a year might be quite cool.
A couple of friends-of-friends have taught in China via the British Council in China’s scheme, and I hear only good things. It is non-profit-making scheme that provides you with training and support to ensure neither you nor the school gets messed around. The problem is that you have to apply at least 6 months in advance for a September start, which would mean if I wanted to go with them I wouldn’t actually be going for another 13 months, and I am unemployed now. chinaprogram.org looks similarly legit – unless they are outright lying they are also non-profit-making, and though it costs $1500 their pay and benefits are greater than the British Council’s. But they too would also no longer consider me until August 2009.
So I started looking into alternative organisations that offer teaching work in China, and pretty much ALL of them seem designed as exercises in money making. CELTA or equivalent? Vastly over the top and vastly over expensive for a gap year of teaching English in a developing country. Online TEFL programs? Charge you hundreds of pounds to teach what you could learn from a book, and if a school is willing to hire you with just an online TEFL they would probably have been willing to hire you with just a university degree anyway. Then there are vast numbers of private schools which run their own teacher training programs – TEFL International, English First, Will Excel, and the like – all of which seem to engage in dodgy-as-hell business practices. A weekend course? Might be good for a bit of confidence but doesn’t lead directly into a job in any way.
Which brings me on to an even greater problem: if you are going the independent route you still have to find a job. Reading online message boards might be unrepresentative, but there are so many horror stories of schools overworking teachers, refusing to pay them, and generally screwing them around that I’d be terrified of buying a plane ticket to work at some random school I’d never heard of who happened to post an ad on an online jobs board.
I’m beginning to think I might just forget the idea for the time being. If I’m still footloose in 6 months time then I may well apply to go with the British Council or chinaprogram.org.
Does this seem a fair summary?
19 July, 2008 at 8:17
Total posts: 55
Reply To: Argh
Not a bad summary of some of the problems facing people thinking of starting out in the TEFL profession Mr Kite.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the negative aspects though. Yes, there are a lot of horror stories, dodgy schools, dubious goings-on, etc, but there are also a lot of decent, honest schools, happy teachers, great experiences to be had…
…it’s just that people are much more likely to write about negative experiences than positive ones, so you never get to hear about the positive ones.
Still, it dosn’t make it easy I know – but just wanted to balance out the negative with a bit of positive for anyone starting out.
13 August, 2008 at 14:10
Total posts: 2
Reply To: Argh
Would you say your character, personality, based on a person’s perception of you after reading this posting would be of a Negative, Pesimistic, Complaining man or of the opposite?
Education is filled with well-intentioned people shaping and molding the incredible young minds of the future. I respectufully believe that they should be inspired, motivated by Positive, Loving, giving men who’ve developed the capacity for deep Peace, Joy and Happiness to help inspire and motivate our Beautiful Young Minds….
Maybe you should consider retiring or a career change? Or as my older brother would say, "A checkup from the Neck Up"?