2 options for teaching English overseas

options for ESL teachers overseas

Comfort Zone vs Magic Zone

2 options for teaching English overseas

When you teach overseas, there are 2 paths available:

1. You can dumb down your ESL job search and your expectations, and apply to the “McJobs” by country of choice. You can blast out your resume, do the Skype interviews, gather your docs, get your visa, and start paying down your student loans… Let’s call this Checkers.

2. Or, you can wise up, get qualified, and find better. Even if the job means more heavy lifting and responsibility. Let’s call this Chess.

The fact that dumb down is the path of least resistance, while wise up translates to demanding students, extra lesson prep, and intrusive performance appraisals, makes most overseas ESL teachers hit the “let me think about that” button.

But the very idea of stepping out of your comfort zone to find a better job, can open up life changing opportunities.

Wasn’t this a similar motivation that took most of us abroad to teach English in the first place?

Checkers or Chess? It’s your MOVE…

Get “Daily Thoughts” By Email

Sticks and stones break your bones

Sticks & Stones

The young learner strategy

Most native English teachers in Korea don’t get upset when a young learner walks up and says, “you look tired”, or “your nose is big”, and even “why are you so fat?”

This is because most of us just accept this type of comment as part of the “appearances driven” culture our students live in. We get the feeling that they are saying these things without malice. So, getting upset with them doesn’t do much good, because they’re not likely going to change anytime soon— if ever.

Couldn’t the same be said for your friends and family who guilt us without knowing any better, when they ask, “why don’t you come visit us?”, or “you can’t stay abroad forever”.

It’s hardly productive to ruin your day trying to explain the reasons “why you do what you do” or “who you are”, is it?

Better, I think to treat your family/friends like your ESL students, tell them you love them, and change the conversation.

Posted February 18, 2017     Leave a comment


Edutainment Anyone?

Maybe Your Students Aren’t Trying To learn English

Perhaps they want play or edutainment instead.

NOT just another class, but an event that’s fun and memorable.

If they’re salarymen, they want something to distract them from their marathon days at the office and authoritarian bosses.

If they’re schoolchildren, they seek respite from the academic pressure from their parents and teachers.

The positive interactions you have with your students in the moment are your upmost priority.

A stale textbook is the last refuge for the ESL teacher who lacks the imagination or determination to deliver a compelling English lesson.

Posted on February 17, 2017   Leave a comment

A Magic wand for EFL teachers

Magic Wand

A Magic Wand For An English As A Second Language Teacher

It would be fun to see what an ESL teacher would do if he/she had a magic wand.

Maybe with a wave, such a wand could whisk you out of class for an hour (or two) to you favourite beach in Thailand, or back home for a Sunday night dinner with the folks.

They do sell “Harry Potter” magic wands on Amazon. And it might be a fun prop to liven up your next English class.

But seriously…

If you don’t believe in magic wands, a better question might be…

What are you sooooooo looking forward to seeing/doing/achieving this year while living abroad that you’re prepared get up early or teach late to just to earn the money or time to do it?

Posted February 16, 2017     Leave a comment

How long can I realistically live abroadHow Long Can You Realistically Teach English Overseas?

After your first, second, or even third year teaching English in Asia, you need to ask yourself:

Is an EFL career for me? How far can I go with it? What skills have I acquired that I can add to my resume, how much am I earning, saving? Who am I missing back home?

Pause, reflect, and give it some serious thought.

You might conclude that you’re living abroad because you’re seeking to create a life free of cultural conformity and commitments, or to escape the drudgery of the 9-5 office cubicle.

But soon, slowly, you find your newfound freedom pill losing its efficacy as it gets replaced with you accepting more overtime hours at your school, adopting the local business wardrobe to fit in, and getting sucked into school politics.

The longer you stay in your host country, the more your learn to accept what you can’t change so you bend and blend. If you don’t you’ll crack…

The more roots you plant abroad, the harder it becomes to leave.

Few teachers/expats will stay abroad indefinitely.

Maybe their shelf life is 10 or 20 years — but at some point, for whatever reason, maybe even against their will, they’ll eventually return home.

The best time to plan for your return is right now. And the worst time to re-visit this plan is when there’s a lot of pressure to leave.

Posted February 15, 2017     Leave a comment

Teach for free

Pro Bono Teaching

When is it “okay” to teach English for Free?

Elementary, middle, high school, university and corporate ESL teachers—there’s always a chance to teach more private classes.

There are hundreds of eager English learners that would gladly buy you a cup of coffee in exchange for a free English lesson.

While most of us can easily command high hourly rates for teaching English privately abroad, having a conversation (in English) with a student isn’t always about making a fast buck.

In some cases, pro-bono teaching makes perfect sense. You might be friends with a student, or a parent of a student, maybe you’re volunteering at an orphanage, or even offering extracurricular help to a student who’s writing an essay or studying for a test.

And.. just because you’re teaching “for free” doesn’t mean you should ignore the upsides.

Consider your student’s circle of friends, family, or colleagues. Helping one of them means the opportunity to expand your network, or leverage them for support. Especially, when you need help with one of the many challenges that arise while living in a foreign country.

Now, more than ever, you need to build a support system of local friends. If you have a crisis, it’s they who can help you, not your fellow foreign colleagues.

Here’s the reality: you’re an alien living alone in your host country.  The network you build tomorrow will be the direct result of the number of locals (students or non -students) you influence today.

Pay it forward. Because you can’t always slap on a price for helping others.

Posted February 14, 2017     Leave a comment

Showing vs. Telling

How we Remember

Showing vs. Telling Your Students

All the definitions, descriptions, and explanations you give your EFL students to aid their understanding pale in comparison with what you can actually “show them”.

Too often, English teachers feel that a daily ritual of spoon-feeding students new vocabulary and expressions is of upmost necessity. Maybe we subconsciously do it to justify our existence.

Do students really need to know the latest/greatest English idiom or buzz word to attain fluency?

Words are forgotten while pictures are remembered. Use them generously in class.

Posted February 13, 2017     Leave a comment

Raising the bar for ESL teachers

ESL Teacher Credentials

Could they be raising the bar on ESL teacher requirements?

We’ve all been through the back-checking, of course.

Degree verification, TEFL certification and the criminal records checks. Checks that immigration requires. All, so we aliens can get our teaching visas.

The ESL teacher market for the “good jobs” is competitive!

Will schools soon demand foreign instructors have greater knowledge, skills, and abilities as the demand for  the one size fits all Native English teacher shrinks in certain countries.

Students need teachers who are listeners and correctors, not “talking heads.”Language institutes need educators, with “relevant degrees” not working holiday college grads. Universities demand post-graduate degree holders with “multiple years” of proven work experience.

These are skills you’ll need if you want a shot at the premium ESL jobs.

If you’re serious about teaching overseas (for years to come) up-skilling now is a lot cheaper than it’s going to cost you later.

Unless you’re planning a career change… (But how much will that set you back?)

Posted February 12, 2017     Leave a comment

Leave a Reply