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Where do experienced teachers go to find quality positions abroad?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by hiiamkel11, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. hiiamkel11

    hiiamkel11 New commenter

    Hello community,

    Thank you in advance for reading! I am a 34 year old single, American, male English teacher. I am in a rather unusual situation for the average EFL teacher. I have a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a minor/concentration in E.S.L (master's degrees don't normally come with a minor/concentration, but as you read on it should make more sense). I am not certified to teach in public schools in the US (I have simply not taken the time to complete the certification as it can take up to 2 years to complete, including a half year of unpaid student teaching). I have over 5 years of full-time teaching in both the public and private setting - mostly with pre-university/university students in the private setting, business professionals, and adults in community colleges. I have experience teaching in the U.S. and international job markets abroad (roughly equal experience in both settings). I am also a https://kripalu.org/ certified and experienced yoga teacher (including Kripalu's "Yoga in the Schools" program - an evidence-based program designed to bring yoga practices to the classroom setting).

    Basically, I am not fresh out of college and looking to travel (and there's nothing wrong with that - it just isn't the situation I am currently in). Given my education, experience, and auxiliary training/certifications (yoga), I believe I am overqualified for virtually all of the entry level English teaching positions I see on job boards abroad. When I search, I often simply consider salary as the way to distinguish positions for more qualified individuals, but this can often be a red herring and tells me little about the actual school, its reputation, experience with English teaching, the support offered to teachers (both in terms of teaching and relocating), specific contract requirements, etc. I am willing to sign a contract and commit, but only with a reputable school.

    I am hoping to get some advice regarding how to find positions in reputable schools which reflect my education and experience. I am even willing to pay a reputable recruiter who works with reputable schools to find qualified candidates (apologies for the repetition of "reputable", but I want to stress its importance). I have searched positions and posted my resume in the past (Dave's ESL Cafe) and the responses have just been daunting (something like 15-20 emails/day) - like trying to find a needle in a haystack - and I usually just give up after a few weeks of effort/interviews. I was most recently considering a position as a curriculum development specialist in Shanghai, but backed out after it was revealed that the position/company was essentially brand new and starting from scratch.

    If anyone is (or has been) in a similar situation, your advice/guidance/recommendations would be GREATLY APPRECIATED! :) All advice is welcome.

    My only requirements are 1) That the position be in a medium-large, international city with a relatively robust ex-pat community (to avoid isolation abroad - which I have experienced), 2) That I can make enough money to live comfortably, in a decent flat, and be able to save a decent amount each month and 3) That there is a good work/life balance (i.e. I won't be working all the time and will have the ability to maintain a life outside of work). In terms of preference, I would ideally be looking for positions in the high school, university, business (adult) setting as most of my experience is with this demographic. In terms of the place, I am open to suggestions, but have been considering Europe (where I previously lived for several years and had a good experience - Budapest), Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, U.A.E., South America, etc. I feel my experience and education would allow me to compete for quality positions even in markets which are "saturated".

    Final question: Do you think I should complete my certification to teach in the US (or even apply for a temporary certification to meet requirements)? This is something that was recommended to me by a friend, as many schools are now requiring teaching certifications in order to even be considered for high quality positions.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your help!

    Kelly Kennedy - Pennsylvania, USA
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2018
  2. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    The better international schools will want you to have a teaching qualification from your country of origin. I know that my school does not employ teachers unless they have one. You might be ok teaching in a university without one but not a good quality international school.
    schmedz and dumbbells66 like this.
  3. schmedz

    schmedz Occasional commenter

    I agree that it is virtually impossible to get work in a reputable school (or even in some countries) without proof of your teaching qualification, no matter how extensive your experience and other training is.
    Your best bet is to do your own research into schools which appeal to you (or join Search Associates - if you're able to, they may also insist on a teaching qualification) and apply for a few jobs - or you could contact them prior to applying to see if they are able to consider candidates without a teaching qualification before applying.
    With your mainly pre-U / university experience, you may wish to apply for roles in schools which are to do with guidance for student applications. Depending on which curriculums you have taught, look for schools that teach similar (for example, you would not be able to work in a 'British' international school without QTS and/or experience teaching at A-Level / IB).
    Many people find that to get into a good international school, they have to take a 'lower level' of role than they have been or aspire to be doing, but once you're in and can prove yourself a valuable colleague, there are frequently opportunities for promotion and career development. You will often find that a 'teacher's' wage is favourably comparable to a leadership role in your home country in regards to salary/living costs/saving potential.
    Good luck, but I think your bet bet is to get the piece of paper which qualifies you to teach as this will make the process of transferring abroad much easier.
    I can't comment on whether the same is true of Universities - this is all to do with International Schooling at Primary/High school/6th Form level.

    Also - if you're looking just to teach English (EAL) rather than English as a school curriculum subject, that is usually not done in an International School context but an English language college and the salaries here are generally low and I'm not sure on the situation with employers organising your visa/work permit etc...

    Happy for any other posters to come along and correct any misinformation I may inadvertently be spreading, but I'm speaking from my experience in SE Asia.
    ejclibrarian likes this.
  4. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey New commenter

    I think You will struggle to find a job without recognised teaching qualifications. There are tens of applicants with recognised qualifications applying for jobs. I would imagine the biggest problem for schools is meeting visa requirements so this might hinder many countries from considerng you. Even third world countries have these requirements so without a recognised qualification I think you are going to find it difficult to get a job in a school as an English Teacher.
  5. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    In China you can still work as a teacher with only a 3 year degree from a native English speaking country. But as mentioned you need a standard recognised teaching qualification to be considered by many schools and countries for employment.

    This is why I always advise people to get their teaching qualification and probationary period over before they start teaching abroad.
    yasf likes this.
  6. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    There are international schools where an education based degree suffices as a teaching qualification. There are a fair few of them and many are good schools. I would recommend you complete your certification but I wouldn't say it's the be all and end all - it is possible to carve out a career in international education without one, But having one opens a lot more doors and it is well worth suffering the time and energy
  7. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I agree with the above. Having a qualification is a really good idea. It opens doors to those "reputable" schools you are keen on.
    A couple points.
    Dave's ESL Cafe is geared more towards backpacker teaching types, not career people. Try Search Associates or International Schools Services as the 2 biggest agencies. There are others as well.
    It's not widely known, but your student teaching experience in PA does not have to be unpaid. If you can find an accredited (this part is key) school to hire you as a regular teacher, you can use that job as your student teaching. You just need to have someone on staff, holding an MEd, serve as your cooperating teacher, which means dropping in a couple times for evaluations and filling in some forms. They'll probably even get paid by the university for it - though of course you'll be paying the university for the privilege, so choose carefully: some unis charge you for a full load of courses to do your student, while others charge just a couple of credits, and of course there's a huge discrepancy in cost per credit. You also have to convince your uni to support you in all this - it's all perfectly legit, but very unusual, so you'll probably have to do the research yourself and show it to the powers that be at the uni. (I don't recommend this route to many people, but since you're already an experienced teacher, it could work for you. Just know that your school will consider you a "real" teacher, so don't expect the support given to a student teacher.)
    As for the two years you've heard it can take, explore that as well. Your Masters courses could cover the majority of requirements needed for certification, so you might just need 2-3 courses plus student teaching and Praxis. Find out.
    And experience. You mention 5 years, and that 5 years sounds like it's not straightforward K-12, Sep-June, I have a class and I have full responsibility for them for the whole year. Schools are usually pretty picky with what they count as experience, and it's usually only the straightforward stuff, and often only post-qualification. Private sector (unless you mean private schools?), businesses, unis and adults do not count. Since you have a Masters, experience after your graduation may count, depending on the school, but a strict one will want it to be post-Certificate. So when you get an offer, the salary may be based on something other than 5 years.
    It's a journey, and it's worth it.
  8. hiiamkel11

    hiiamkel11 New commenter

    Thank you all for your responses. I signed up for email notifications if someone were to reply, but wasn't getting them (which is why I am just seeing these now). I appreciate all your responses. It was all very practical and realistic advice. I really do appreciate it. I think it may be time to bite the bullet and get the certification. Although, I do think there are other options in terms of the actual process I will need to undertake (including potentially finding a school to "sponsor" my student teaching, using some master's credits toward the degree to shorten the duration, or even finding a "lower-level" position to simply get my foot in the door, etc.) These are all really great insights and echoed by several of the responses. Again, I really appreciate everyone taking the time. #gulfgolf, kemevez, february31st, funkymonkey, schmedz, ejclibrarian. Thank you all.

    The 2 year quote was from the institution where I completed my master's (they said it was mostly related to the change in requirements since I completed my undergrad). However, there may be other unis which will offer me a better timeline toward completion. Also, nearby states offer working toward the certification (NJ for instance). My brother was in a similar situation and was able to become certified by taking a job in a catholic school in Jersey City. This is another option so that I could be earning a salary while working toward the cert.

    I am kicking myself a bit, because I had a TA job offered to me while living in Budapest and I turned it down because the travel time was something like 1.5 hours each way, on public transport - tram to train to bus - and of course, I didn't have a car. This would have been a great way to get my foot in the door with a great international school. I was honest and kept in contact with them since and so this door has by no means been closed.

    I am going to look into the certification in more detail and see what I can find out. I am also going to check out the alternative websites to Dave's ESL Cafe. I will keep you all posted as to what I find out, and perhaps the information can help someone in a similar situation.

    I am new to posting in threads seeking advice, and I am overwhelmed by the response and support. I appreciate you all and thank you again for taking the time to help.
    schmedz likes this.
  9. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Sounds like you're on the pathway.
    PA Certification requirements are set by the state, not the school. Schools are in the interesting and profitable position of preparing students for Certification, as part of which they can officially "recommend" (or whatever it's called) students to the State for the Certificate. So schools can and do set their own internal requirements about what students need to do to be recommended to the State, which can mean things above and beyond state requirements, like completing a certain number of courses at the university, completing specific courses the state doesn't care about, etc. As an alternate route, if you can complete the state requirements in any way, shape or form, you can apply directly to the state without a university backing you (or at least that used to be true). So try the PA DoE website to see what the requirements actually are and how you might go about meeting them.
    Good luck.
  10. hiiamkel11

    hiiamkel11 New commenter

    Wasn't aware of that option either, #gulfgolf. I will check it out as well. Thank you again! I will keep you all posted.
  11. Mickyd197se

    Mickyd197se Occasional commenter

    You might well be able to get a job at an international school, but you're almost certainly going to need certification to move up in the international teaching world. There are schools around which would take anybody with a pulse, but then there are also many schools which would not consider anybody without certification.

    Look into options such as the PGCEi or Teacher Ready pathways. They aren't necessarily the best ways to gain experience and qualifications (that would be getting the certification plus post-certification experience in the US/UK/Australia wherever), but then it doesn't seem like you want to do that. There are many teachers that have gained their certification while teaching at international schools, and that includes teachers that are now at tier one schools. So, while it's not necessarily the ideal or conventional route, it is certainly an option.
    schmedz likes this.

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