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Next step?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Zeppo6, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. Zeppo6

    Zeppo6 New commenter


    I'm a British TESOL teacher here. I worked in Japan for 8.5 years. Did a mixture of things - conversation, high school teaching, taught kids and taught at Universities (through conversation program connected to university)

    Then I moved to Canada and now I work at a language school here. Conditions are not great, but it is nice as I always wanted to live in the US and I guess this is the closest I'll get.

    I am thinking about taking that next step by getting a masters in TESOL then maybe moving back to Asia with that, or using it to get a better gig here. I might move back to Japan or try Malaysia.

    Just wondering if anyone had any experience teaching in Canada full time? Did getting the masters help?

    Did it help you in Asia?

    I'm also considering moving back to the UK and getting a PGCE to teach at international school. Having not lived in the UK for 10 years, I have no idea if I could move back and get all the background checks and stuff. There's also the weird psychological aspects after all this time in exile, which I suppose is a comfortable discomfort for me now.

    Or if this whole idea is stupid, then let me know that too. It's very hard to imagine moving anywhere now what with COVID.
  2. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    I think you have discussed a lot of options here, so maybe need to prioritise your goals first.

    1. Do you want to stay in Canada, or work internationally?

    2. Do you want to work in language schools, or international schools (Higher salary more likely in the latter)?

    These two questions might help you focus on what you need to do.

    If you want to stay put and have managed to gain work in ESL that you're happy with, doing a masters or some such will support your career development.

    If you want to stay as an ESL teacher but work abroad, same thing applies, only you could potentially start working abroad and then start your masters/Delta/whatever. A colleague of mine has recently done this. You don't need to stay in Canada to do a masters, although it might be easier.

    If you want to work in an international school, you will need a school teaching qualification. If you go for the PGCE in the UK, this will be an absolute minimum of 2 years, as after the course, it's highly advisable you get your NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year done. Even 3 years, as most decent schools ask for 2 years post qualification experience (and there's good reason for that!).

    The PGCE will be the more long-term investment, so think carefully.

    The police check should be fine, as long as you can produce checks (with notarised translations if necessary) from every place you have lived. I did the same, had been abroad for 8 years (but only in one place, so just needed one police check) before returning to do the PGCE.

    My personal advice? Stay put for now, get some extra ESL qualifications, travel when things have settled. I'm not sure if now is the time to take a bet on working in an international school in a few years time.
    Zeppo6, agathamorse and TheoGriff like this.
  3. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Nelly has a point about things being unsettled - but TBH that actually gives you time do to the PGCE. Then, in two or three years time, you should be able to move on to teach internationally by then.
    Zeppo6 and Ne11y like this.
  4. Zeppo6

    Zeppo6 New commenter

    I guess so. International schools feel a bit like uni gigs where there are too many people for each position. I know it's a requirement in the UK. But are there really a lot of British international schools out in Asia or europe or the US that regularly hire new teachers?
  5. Zeppo6

    Zeppo6 New commenter

    All good points. I'm at a very uncertain time right now.

    I moved to Canada partly out of Asia alienation. And tbh I've enjoyed feeling more comfortable in terms of less language and cultural barriers.

    But as with everything, there's a trade off. The conditions for teachers in Canada/Toronto are pretty bad. It's burn out central pretty much. But at the same time, it took me like 5 years to get a decent job in Japan. I think the first year anywhere is the hardest. I am likely to get PR status soon, though I don't know if Canada is the best place to settle down due to the high costs of living.

    After 10 years living abroad, I feel a pull back to the UK and a feeling that maybe my wandering days should be over. To be totally honest though, if I lived in the UK I'd only want to live in London or Manchester for the culture of those cities. Doing a PGCE and then teaching out in some grim town cos it's the only thing available would be horrible for me. And how realistic is it really to get a teaching placement in those two cities?

    I have always treated teaching as a means to an end. I've been professional and worked my ass off. But my passions and interests were in things like writing/music where getting paid to live isn't super realistic.

    At 30 now, I'm at a crossroad where I think maybe I need to suck it up and get qualified and instead of viewing it like 'I'm throwing away my passions to sell my soul out' I could look at it more like 'I'm enabling myself to get a greater degree of comfort to continue pursuing those things in the future as well.'

    Honestly, this last year of sharing a dingy house and living in constant fear of not earning enough to live just feels like a young man's game. It's not some kind of cool beatnik adventure like I might have framed it in my early to mid 20's.

    On the other hand, I could move to a place like Taiwan, where I've heard teachers can save more money, and use that as a base to get more qualifications. I don't think it's that realistic for me to do that in Canada when
    1. the cost of living is insanely high
    2. teaching jobs are unstable

    But then again I feel like if I went back out to Asia, I'd be in the same place again a few years down the line of pondering the UK return. It just never goes away fully. So maybe better to just try it and for better or worse see what happens. It's scary for a reason though because it might all be horribly depressing and misery inducing. I suppose at least galavanting around Asia you feel like you're living an interesting life.
  6. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Canadian teachers have a very good reputation internationally: so if there's any chance of you doing teacher training in Canada (as opposed to returning to the UK) I'd go for that option.
  7. Zeppo6

    Zeppo6 New commenter

    That's an odd point of view. Really, Canadian teachers have a better reputation than British teachers?
  8. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    Funny thing, sounds like you're pretty much in the same position I was in many years ago. I had to decide if I wanted to continue with a good, but slightly precarious position, or invest in qualifications and look to settle.

    I returned to the UK, did the PGCE and after working in the UK for a while, am back out abroad.

    Although everything is up in the air right now, Manchester and London are big places. I am sure you could find an NQT position somewhere post qualification.

    One thing to consider. Returning to the UK after all this time abroad, unless you have considerable savings, you're somewhat hobbled. One of the things that got me back abroad again was the realisation that I would never manage to get a mortgage in the UK (and I had savings) while working abroad, I could save enough to look at buying property somewhere else. You talk about wanting to settle down somewhere, so think carefully. The cost of living is high in the UK too and you may well find you continue to flatshare and scrape money together on a teacher's salary (all of my NQT colleagues had to houseshare for a good few years in the UK, including myself).

    It's hard (and you can change your mind! I did!) But pause and think. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What would be your ideal?

    Working in the UK as a classroom teacher?

    Working in Canada in some capacity?

    Working in another country (as ESL or classroom teacher)?

    Then work towards that.
  9. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey New commenter

    No, it says Canadian teachers have a GOOD reputation, not a better reputation than British teachers.
  10. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I know a massive chain of schools in Sweden that actually prefers Canadian teachers above all others and are prepared to go to the effort of arranging work permits/paying for more expensive flights to get them.
  11. Zeppo6

    Zeppo6 New commenter

    Thanks for the response.

    Do you think a masters in TESOL would help me get into language schools in the UK? (or indeed, in Canada)

    I know it's a big requirement in Japan.
  12. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    Yes, for sure. I know people who have done the masters exactly for that reason.
  13. Zeppo6

    Zeppo6 New commenter

    Right. I feel like the masters in TESOL would probably feel like less of a commitment, since I could do it online.

    Perhaps the PGCE gives a greater reward in the long term since it asks quite a lot of you.

    Also, from teaching TESOl I've really enjoyed when I could integrate elements of my interests, such as literature. In some classes I was basically teaching a literature class. So the idea of really focusing on that and being a real 'English' teacher might be more fulfilling.

    It's not like I'm about to pull the trigger on any of this though. I am primarily living off benefits right now and when I wasn't I was barely making enough to live let alone save.

    I think covid has just made me freak out about the future of my career. Maybe that's necessary. I used to be pretty firmly in the 'a job is just a job who really cares if it isn't that great if it pays the bills' camp.

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