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Teaching Physics in Asia with PhD but No Certification

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by AntonGuy, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. AntonGuy

    AntonGuy New commenter

    Hello all!

    I have just joined this forum, and I am currently considering teaching abroad very seriously. In my research so far, I have stumbled on tons and tons of information regarding teaching English abroad via TEFL certification. However, I have found much less information regarding teaching specific subjects abroad through international schools, universities, or other types of educational institutions. Thus, I was really hoping to get some input from you guys!

    My background is a PhD in Physics from a very reputable R1 university in the United States, as well as 2 years of lecturing experience with calculus-based intro-level physics courses at that same university. The student evaluations I have received have been very positive. However, I do not have a teaching certification or license. Ideally, I would like to teach physics in either Vietnam, China, South Korea, Thailand, or Japan, though I am open to other possibilities. I am open to teaching high school students nearing graduation, university students, or adults furthering their education. I am also open to teaching English via TEFL for a while as a way to get by while I search for physics teaching jobs on location.

    Has anyone on this forum done something similar, or know someone who has? I suppose my main question is whether it is even possible to land international school jobs with my experience and degree alone, without a teaching certificate. How about university lecturer jobs? Also, are there any other viable physics teaching abroad paths that might be good for my background (special education centers, private academies, tutoring?)

    Any input I can get from you would be extremely helpful to me! Thanks for taking the time to read this.

  2. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    The only qualification for teaching in China is a 3 year BSc full time earned in a native English speaking country.
  3. nemo.

    nemo. Occasional commenter

    The main issues are

    1. Developing effective teaching skills - not just Physics but teaching is about developing teenagers as a whole (secondary I presume for you!)

    2. Career, choice and visas

    You have no teaching experience, lecturing doesn't count, and if you want to develop into an effective teacher get some training.

    Also the best jobs are open only to certified teachers, especially with Visa hassles in some countries.

    I have a PhD in Physics, but I also have a PGCE-QTS and yes there is a shortage of Physics teachers, and teaching 6th formers it is an advantage to be a real Physicist, but despite mostly teaching IGCSE and IB, I also teach year 7s and 8s. Usually one class set nowadays as timetable filler, but you can't rely on just getting exam classes that are usually more dedicated (but it depends on the school, many have EAL issues, special needs, emotional issues etc). You would also most likely be a form teacher and be involved in pastoral work.

    Teaching is a vocation, and although as a Physicist I can normally just teach physics, I also teach that pseudoscience called Biology (stamp collecting really!) to younger kids. And teach kids how to behave, work together, develop soft skills like presenting and debating etc.

    So yes you can get a job in an international school, but poorer ones, with lower pay, less choice, more Visa hassles and you will most likely miss out on development and training to become a good teacher.
  4. 1stSgtWelsh

    1stSgtWelsh New commenter

    I had a friend who had a PhD in Chemistry from Oxford and had years of experience working abroad and teaching English as a foreign language at universities. However, he was not a licensed teacher. I met him when I was working in the Gulf and, unfortunately, he passed away recently. Anyway, three or four years ago, he applied to a few international schools in China to teach Chemistry and he didn't get an offer. Whether he was too fussy in which schools he applied to, I can't say. Having said that, he did get at least one interview that I know of so they must have been kind of interested....
  5. krakowiak6

    krakowiak6 Occasional commenter

    To be honest, I didn't rate my PGCE course. I found the lectures just skinted over everything and the written assignments were not very challenging. I did learn how to plan a SOW during teaching practice but not much more. PGCE courses are just money making courses for unis IMHO. The OP should be able to get a job in China as Chinese teachers just have a degree although they probably prefer overseas teachers to have a pgce
  6. mummalea

    mummalea New commenter

    Have you scooted around the Dave's Cafe website for some ideas abroad? Just a thought...
  7. Newstein

    Newstein New commenter

    I have known a Maths graduate straight out a UK university, without any teaching qualifications teaching A Level Maths in a China 'International' school. PM me if you want to know more.
  8. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    I've known post grads/PhDs in each of my international schools without PGCE/B.Eds. Most are either married to locals and never going to move on or disappeared off the radar after one school. If working in an international school is what you want to do get a teaching qualification.
  9. AntonGuy

    AntonGuy New commenter

    Thank you all for your helpful replies! Overall, I am gathering that while it is feasible to land a lower-tier international school position without a certificate, having certification will open up options, result in less visa hassles, and of course make me a better teacher. I am currently researching certification.

    I did look at Dave's Cafe briefly, and have marked it as a good source of TEFL job postings but not for teaching subject like physics. Though perhaps I just haven't looked enough?
  10. AntonGuy

    AntonGuy New commenter

    I am definitely interested in learning more. However, it appears that I do not yet have the option of sending private messages as I am too new of a member. Perhaps you can PM me first?

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