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Opinions on routes into international school teaching (unqualified teachers)

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by johnstonsj, May 3, 2018.

  1. johnstonsj

    johnstonsj New commenter

    Hi all,

    My girlfriend and I have given a lot of thought into international school teaching in the past while. We are both from Northern Ireland, 28 and 27 years old respectively with Bachelor's in History and Law and Master's in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies and Human Rights Law. We are TESOL certified (one month, 140 hour course) and have been teaching ESL in Vietnam, Australia and soon South Korea in a variety of settings including public schools, language centres and universities. Our experience is currently 2 and a half years but this will amount to 3 and a half years after our time in South Korea.

    I would love to become a Secondary History/Social Sciences Teacher at an international school and she would love to teach English. We are aware this will entail getting QTS status (likely a PGCE) and some experience at QTS level. My route would be relatively straight-forward; getting on a History PGCE but since my girlfriend's degree is in Law, she has been advised that doing an English Master's is the only way for her to secure a spot on an English PGCE. This will be costly and time-consuming and while not ideal, is still a potential option. She does have considerable ESL teaching experience.

    Can anyone give any advice on the most straightforward route for us, particularly in a UK context? Has anyone been in a similar predicament? We are aware of the iPGCE but it does not grant QTS as it is an academic qualification. Other people have said that some international schools hire unqualified teachers, but we are wanting to attain QTS to set us up for a life-long career.

    Many thanks!
     
  2. adrixargentina

    adrixargentina New commenter

    I did teach first. It's quite good because you get paid on the job. Recently a participant has worked at my school who did a law degree but he taught geography so sometimes teach first looks at your A-levels to see if there is a subject that you could teach instead of your degree .
     
  3. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    You might want to look into Teach Now. It's a US based program (similar to Teach First I assume) that can be completed in 9 months online and results in a US teacher certification that the vast majority of int'l schools will have no problem with. I don't claim to be an expert on the program but I know of non-US citizens that have gone through the program and then used their US certification to get QTS status by merely submitting their application and proof of certification.

    There is a student teaching component but this can be done through a willing int'l school while overseas. There may be other details that would make it non-helpful for you but it's worth a look.

    https://teach-now.com/programs-degrees/
     
    Mr_Frosty likes this.
  4. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    The most straightforward route is to do a PGCE and teach for a year in a secondary school to get QTS. A PGCE is meant to be the 'gold standard' of teaching qualifications because unlike in many countries it is assessed on your ability to teach rather than pass exams. If you have it, you will be a much more attractive prospect for international schools. Online teaching courses are aimed at teachers who are already in post but need the piece of paper. Realistically, you won't be hired by a school and put through an online programme unless you have something really special to offer. I know someone who was hired by a very academic international school and put through the iPGCE because she has a PhD in her subject. Other people might be hired because their Oxbridge degree looks good on the school website or they're a former Olympic athlete. But for the average teacher, I don't think there's a shortcut to getting properly qualified. With respect, teaching EFL isn't the same as school teaching, nor is it the same as teaching literature. May I ask how your girlfriend would propose to teach English up to A Level/IB without an English degree? If you're both set on qualifying as school teachers she can't apply for teacher training until she has got the Masters.

    An easier route for you both would be to do the Masters in TESOL at Coleraine. This would enable you to teach EAP in overseas universities and your previous language school experience would be taken into account. There's no need to get QTS afterwards. You would be good to go once you get the degree.

    Good luck.
     
  5. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    You can also do Masters courses in TESOL and/or Applied Linguistics online through UK universities and keep working at the same time.
     
  6. johnstonsj

    johnstonsj New commenter

    Thanks for the advice. We have looked into Teach First too. She has an A grade A-Level in English. However, what are the employment prospects for someone in her situation? While still being a QTS in English, she would only have an A Level in English vs other candidates with a degree.
     
  7. johnstonsj

    johnstonsj New commenter

    Thanks for the advice. You have a valid point, although she does have an A grade in A-Level English. There may be some providers who would be willing to take this into account in addition to other experience. We will need to contact individual universities to find out their requirements.

    An MA in TESOL is certainly another option, although it will require further research into employment prospects as well as how suitable is it as a job alongside a potential internatonal school teacher in terms of flexibility etc.

    Once again, thanks.
     
  8. johnstonsj

    johnstonsj New commenter

    Thanks for the advice. You have a valid point, although she does have an A grade in A-Level English. There may be some providers who would be willing to take this into account in addition to other experience. We will need to contact individual universities to find out their requirements.

    An MA in TESOL is certainly another option, although it will require further research into employment prospects as well as how suitable is it as a job alongside a potential internatonal school teacher in terms of flexibility etc.

    Once again, thanks.
     
  9. TusitalaH

    TusitalaH New commenter

    I know two people with degrees in Sociology but an English A Level that have gone on to do a PGCE in English, so it does definitely happen!

    I can't comment on how not having an academic English degree would affect her job prospects internationally. Both of the people I know have got jobs in the UK, though.
     
  10. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    She may need to have a degree in her teaching subject to get a visa for some countries. It might be a good idea to look into this because a one-year masters isn't the same as a three or four year undergraduate degree. If she is an academic high achiever I think EAP would appeal to her and you would both be qualified in one year rather than three. For employment you would be looking at the Middle East or China, though jobs do occasionally come up in Europe.
     
  11. adrixargentina

    adrixargentina New commenter

    Just contact Teach First in the region you want to work in and ask them. I did German at ALevel, Spanish at uni and they wanted me to teach the German. They look at the need in the area.
     
  12. englishdragon

    englishdragon Occasional commenter

    It is possible that you could find a position today in an International School that was set up as a division within a much larger state/government school in China. These tend to be a mixed bag, the compensation package is substantially lower than any Tier One school, and you will be required to teach to the Chinese school calendar. But, for someone with your background, some of these schools can be real diamonds in the rough. A way to get lots of international experience, and still save funds (often housing, meals and airfare are provided) that you would not be able to save if going the US/UK Teach First/Teach Now pathway. You will need to be flexible, adaptable and able to go with the flow without being reactive.

    You could undertake the online teaching qualifications discussed above while you were teaching.

    The challenge will be negotiating the visa application. While all your documents need the obligatory attesting, authenticating, validating, stampificating, pontifificateding.........etc. (see all the other TES posts about these processes)......perhaps the larger challenge will be providing a letter(s) of reference that documents >2 years of teaching experience in a relevant subject. I imagine that you could find a school that would hire you as English teachers, get the Work Permits for you, and then assign you into the subjects that you wanted to teach (assuming a need).

    Please PM me if you want to discuss this off-forum.
     

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