ESL Education Lacking in New South Wales

kids in classroomSince listening and reading are main components in learning, going to school when one does not know English can be a tremendous barrier in the learning journey. Students in many of the public schools in New South Wales (NSW), Australia are trying to overcome this barrier, with little success.

Only 20 ESL teachers have been employed since 1993, and between 1992 and 2014, the number of students who needed English language teaching support each year grew from 104,173 to 138,487, according to a March 2015 Sydney Morning Herald article. This 33 percent increase in students needing ESL focus creates a gap that the public schools do not think will be funded. Continue reading “ESL Education Lacking in New South Wales”


Teaching English in Taiwan

taiwan186294885Taiwan has long been popular. Ever since the Portuguese first named it lha Formosa in 1544, the “Beautiful Island” has attracted more attention than countries twice its size. Today the island nation – also known as the Republic of China – continues to attract attention for many reasons. Home to some of the most sophisticated – and densely populated – cities in the world it is also a land of lush jungles and stunning mountains. This popularity, derived from businessmen and travelers alike, is also well reinforced by English teachers. Indeed, Taiwan consistently ranks at or near the top of any “best of” ESL employment list. Why, though, do so many want to teach English in Taiwan?

Why Taiwan?

For many ESL instructors the decision to teach English in Taiwan rests on two important factors: salary and stability. Teaching positions on the “Beautiful Island” typically pay quite well in general. This is especially true when cross country comparisons – a job in Taiwan pays better than an equivalent posting in South Korea – and the (low) cost of living are taken into consideration. More to the point, these high salaries include health care and do not come at the expense of quality of life (like in Saudi Arabia) or stability (like in mainland China). Indeed, many expats report that it was Taiwan’s relatively stable ESL industry that first attracted them. Less competitive than in Japan but better regulated than China, it offers many an oasis of calm –and makes moving halfway around the world for a job that much simpler.

What kinds of qualifications are necessary?

As in many other East Asian countries, in theory any applicant who a) is a native English speaker, and b) has a bachelor’s degree in any discipline is eligible to teach English. In the wake of the Great Recession (2007-2008), however, the supple of would-be teachers in Taiwan has increased dramatically. Although demand for instructors remains high, ESL schools in Taiwan have become increasingly selective. This has resulted in stiffer competition for jobs as well as a general drop in wages for applicants without relevant work experience but has left those with TEFL certificates and experience generally unaffected (and in high demand).

What kinds of opportunities exist to teach English in Taiwan?

ESL schools in Taiwan can be broadly broken down in two categories: public and private. Private schools in particular come in a number of varieties but these subsets nevertheless have more in common with one another than with their public counterparts

Private Schools

The vast preponderance of English teaching positions in Taiwan can be found in private schools. From private day schools on end of the spectrum to afterhours buxiban (“cram schools”) on the other, the private sector generally pays better than the government. As a general rule, however, schedules do not conform to general 9 to 5 and class sizes are smaller. Smaller schools have a more personal approach but may be less stable than the larger ones

Public schools and universities

English is a compulsory subject in the public school system from Grade 3 onwards, meaning that the demand for public school instructors is always high. Such positions generally pay slightly less than their private school counterparts and expect higher qualifications but (as they are not profit-driven) often offer a more relaxed worklife. Class sizes are typically quite large, however, and vacant positions in high schools and universities are few and far between. A 9 to 5 schedule, full weekends and regular (paid) vacations are almost guaranteed.

When is the best time to apply?

Because buxibans and other private academies do not adhere to a strict academic calendar, candidates can apply at any time. Public and private day schools, on the other hand, are usually looking for teachers in March and April.

How can I find a job in Taiwan?

The ESL market in Taiwan is fairly well developed. As a result it relies primarily on direct advertisements – on places like Tealit – recruitment agencies – like Footprintsrecruiting – and word of mouth to fill vacancies. It is possible to find a job teaching English in Taiwan from your home country but, as always, in-person applications give you the opportunity to make sure the position is right for you. Such follow-through is always a good idea.


How Personality Can Affect English Teaching Styles

In much the same way that every student is different, so too are their learning styles. This differences should not be taken for granted, however, as they can have a profound impact on language learning at every level. Teachers that identifies their audiences’ learning styles and adapt their English Teaching Styles accordingly are, thus, the most effective.

Consider, by way of example, just two types of students: extroverts and introverts. Extroverted learners would doubtless benefit from the speech- and listening-oriented Audiolingualism approach because this method puts an emphasis on group interaction and play. The use of music, songs, chants and other listening activities at the expense of explicit instruction in grammar, auditory students means that would excel in though this manner of instruction.

Introverted students, by contrast, may shy away from such boisterous activities. Indeed, because they are less willing than their peers to express their ideas and to freely participate in activities, they may be more receptive to the Grammar Translation approach. Because of its emphasis on grammar and structure it is more predictable (and therefore less daunting) to language learners and thus this method may allow students to feel more comfortable by developing familiarity at their own pace.

From these two examples alone it is clear that a student’s personality can have wide ranging implications on their learning style. Thus, no matter what age, level or group a teacher is working with, it is important to consider their target audience when comparing English teaching styles. While it may not be possible to meet the needs of all students at the same time, the careful application of different strategies over time will provide all students with the opportunity to succeed in the long run. This it is important to consider factors such as these when preparing lesson plans and learning activities. In so doing teachers can help ensure as positive – and productive – a learning experience as possible.


How to Teach English: Fluency versus Accuracy

Fluency versus accuracy is, doubtless, the one issue that affects each and every English as a Second Language teacher. Indeed, more than any other, it is this question that, regardless of their level, location, or leanings, English teachers return to over and over again. After all, this issue gets to the heart of how to teach English because it questions the way they measure success as educators. Is mastery, as fluency advocates believe, demonstrated by the “communicative ability” to clear (but inexactly) express ideas or, as accuracy advocates content, by a formal knowledge of grammatical rules?

While the former is ideal for students who are able – and wish to demonstrate their ability – to perform functional tasks in English, the latter more closely corresponds to the traditional ideal of language fluency. As you can imagine, this issue can affect almost every aspect of a teacher’s instructional style in the classroom, meaning that in order to compare English teaching styles you must come to terms with this question.

Such certainty may be elusive but it is important. After all, the differences between just two methods of English language teaching – Grammar Translation (which puts an emphasis on accuracy over fluency ) and Audiolingualism (which focuses on the opposite) – can dramatically affect how and when teachers make corrections.

If you are trying to encourage students to get a flowing rhythm to their speech it can be discouraging to them to be constantly correctly for accuracy. Similarly, many would contend that there are many grammatically correct sentences that, nevertheless, are senseless. For example, both “good” and “green” are adjectives but it would be illogical to say “Have a green day!” By contrast, few would argue that truly bad grammar stands as a significant impediment to free expression in any language and, thus, the debate continues. In the end, then, perhaps a solid resolution is less important than the simple fact of awareness: knowing the perils of extremism can help you compare English teaching styles and, ultimately, help your students.


What to look for in a good TEFL certificate course

The international demand for English teachers has skyrocketed in recent years and, given the advantages qualified teachers have in this rapidly developing market, so too has the number of TEFL certificate courses. The reason for this is obvious: TEFL certificates are far and way the most cost-effective TESOL certification available. Not all programs are created equal, however. Indeed, because these programs, unlike the more expensive and time-consuming CELTA, are largely unregulated the quality of such programs can vary widely. With this concern in mind, then, how can would-be educators tell the difference between superior and substandard programs? Here are some things to keep in mind when you are trying to separate the wheat from the chaff:

In theory any course designed to prepare to teach English abroad can be referred to as a TEFL certificate course. Thus two day weekend classes and aforementioned CELTA are both technically in the same general category. What make the CELTA so much more appealing to employers is its rigor and reputation. Indeed, it is this (hard won) reputation that makes the program so many employers know and love. That having been said, the CELTA is not your only option. Any four week “equivalent” courses (which has a course content and structure similar to the CELTA) has all the hallmarks of a strong program. If you are uncertain about a program’s reputation, do a little digging online and see if that school has a good reputation. If you can find out otherwise, so can potential employers.

In any case, a solid program will invariably require 100 or 120 hours of instruction and will include at least six hours of assessed teaching practice. Supervised instruction is very important to employers (and it should be to you, too) because it helps prepare teachers transfer their skills from the classroom to their classroom – and will help you be a better teacher from day one.


Using a TEFL Certificate to Teach English Without A Degree

Jobs teaching English as a Second Language are like snowflakes in more ways than one. Not only are no two are exactly alike but, especially in recent years, there has been quite a lot of them. Indeed, the demand for native speakers is so high – and the supply so low – that more and more developing economies are allowing would-be educations to teach English without a degree. Although a bachelor’s degree in any discipline is still obligatory for some of the ESL industry’s most popular destinations like Japan, South Korea, and Eastern Europe (and an MA in TESOL de rigeur for teaching English as a Second Language in the United States and Great Britain), a significant number of counties only require a TEFL certificate.

Several countries in Central and South America, for example, have no set qualifications standards for private English teachers. As a result, employers are left to their own discretion when it comes to establishing those standards. In cases such as this a TEFL certificate, which serves as a strong indicator of your commitment to the industry, can provide a significant advantage over the competition and help you to secure a better position.

In many developing countries in Asia, however, a TEFL certificate is obligatory if you want to teach English abroad without a degree. While the Cambodian ESL market is similar to the Central and South American ones (in that it does not require educators to have either a degree or formal certification), both Indonesia and China are quite different. Work visas in these two large – and growing! – markets are only issued to applicants who have, at minimum, a TEFL certificate. Not that this stands as much of a barrier to entry: with some online programs taking as little as two weeks you could be well on your way to an international teaching career by this time next month!


Public School Programs in Korea: Decoding the Acronyms

So you’ve decided to work in a Korean public school – congratulations! – but which of the three major programs should you choose? After all, SMOE, GEPIK, and EPIK may be as foreign to you as 한글. So here goes:

SMOE, GEPIK, and EPIK are region-based acronyms
SMOE: Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education
GEPIK: Gyeonggi English Program in Korea
EPIK: English Program in Korea

and as their full names, imply, there are significant differences between them.

SSMOE positions are concentrated in Korea’s capital, Seoul. As one of the largest cities in the world, this makes it either incredibly exciting or incredibly intimidating but, also the most desirable. Teaching English in Korea for SMOE is considerable more attractive to most than other public school positions in country.

GEPIK positions are in Gyeonggi province, the most populous province in Korea, which completely surrounds Seoul. Largely urban and suburban, it is nevertheless possible to have a rural teaching position in the extremities of the province.

EPIK positions, by contrast, cover a much wider geographic area. Because the program covers every other province in Korea besides Seoul and Gyeonggi you will want to think carefully about whether you prefer to work/live in an urban or rural location. Korea has some impressive secondary cities like Busan, Daegu, and Ulsan, but public school teachers are necessary in rural areas. If you think a smaller city or even a rural setting – and a truly Korea experience – is for you, EPIK is the program for you.

All that having been said, three programs have vastly different acceptance rates. As we indicated earlier, SMOE positions are much more competitive. Because of this, SMOE can pick and choose among its applicants and traditionally only hires people with either a year of teaching experience, or a TEFL certification. By contrast, GEPIK and EPIK will both consider recent graduates or those seeking a career change. In either case, however, their pay rates are established by experience, meaning a TEFL certification automatically translates into higher pay bracket. Of course, your soon-to-be students will appreciate it, too!


Most Lucrative Countries to Teach English

Over the last few decades teaching English overseas has gone from unheard-of to mainstream which has increased the attention and competition for qualified English teachers. Thanks to a scarcity of certified, experienced instructors, many employers are raising the bar on teacher compensation. Here is a quick peek at three of the most lucrative countries to teach English:

South Korea
Offering a wide array of government-funded and private school positions for students of all ages, South Korea has long been considered one of the most lucrative countries for ESL teachers. In addition to a highly competitive base salary –coming in at more than US$2000 a month it is comparable to the starting salary of many Western teachers – most ESL jobs in Korea also provide accommodations, airfare, and insurance. Those who complete their contract – typically one year – are often eligible for an additional bonus worth one month of the salary.

Taiwan
Taiwan, too, has long been a major player in ESL recruitment. At US$3000 or more, base salaries – and living expenses – are higher than in South Korea but employers offer fewer benefits. Although your accommodations are typically provided, teachers will have to pay out of pocket for their airfare and insurance.

Dubai
ESL salaries in Dubai are much like the developing country’s skyscrapers: sky high. A recent entrant to international ESL scene, the oil-rich country places an emphasis on certified, experienced instructors – and has the money to attract them. Unlike many other countries, ESL teachers in Dubai are paid in accordance to their experience and can earn up to $4000 a month. To top it off, most positions – which have multi-year contracts – include accommodations and annual round trip airfare.

So, when you are considering where to teach English abroad, make sure to remember these three – your bank account will be glad you did!


Is a DELTA Course worth it?

For those individuals interested in getting a certificate to teach English, the decision to enroll in a DELTA course is not an easy one. After all, given the length of time the program can take (no less than two months, full-time and over a year, part-time) and its focus on teachers who are already pursuing a career in English language education (which they may have to put on hold while they pursue their DELTA certificate), the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations’ Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program is not exactly a walk in the park. Why, then, has its popularity only grown since its introduction in 1998 – and, more to the point, why should you consider it, too?

The answer, in a word, is excellence. The DELTA certification is the one of the most widely recognized and well respected ESL qualifications in the world. After all, a program famous for its rigor bestows upon its recipients a level of prestige that weekend TEFL courses (and even many longer certification courses) lack.

That is not that say a DELTA course is a perfect fit for everyone – indeed, it is best suited to experienced teachers who can apply their personal classroom experience to their coursework – but there are many benefits for those who take the plunge. From an employment standpoint, for example, it demonstrates a strong commitment to the field of English language instruction and gives recipients a strong advantage over their competition for both initial hires and promotions. Some of the more exclusive language schools require their teachers (and, naturally supervisors) to have such high level credentials. At the same time, a DELTA course can help an experienced teacher bring their classroom performance to the next level. By focusing on educational theory the DELTA can broaden a teacher’s outlook well beyond the day to day role of classroom management and in so doing will help the teacher improve their classroom performance. Finally, of course, such hard work literally does invariably pay off: teachers with a DELTA certification are eligible for considerable increases in salary.


Online CELTA

Although no fewer than 900 CELTA courses are offered at more than 286 approved CELTA centers in 54 countries worldwide, the demand for the University of Cambridge’s Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages dramatically outstrips the supply of programs to certify them. Caught between this rising demand (itself a response to the ever-increasing need of experienced English as a Second Language teachers from Kyoto to Kinshasa) and the stringent demands of excellence that the Cambridge name carries with it, Cambridge ESOL has entered the digital age by offering an Online CELTA.

This course, the result of a partnership between Cambridge ESOL and International House, London (a UK-based language school with an international reputation in its own right), provides students with the flexibility that comes with an online course while at the same time furnishing successful candidates with the very same certification that makes the traditional CELTA course so popular. In recognition of the need for practical, hand-on experience – the bedrock of the CELTA’s reputation for quality – the online CELTA course places an emphasis not only on theory but also on practice. It accomplishes this feat by utilizing interactive tasks, guided video observation, and live forum discussions to mimic the classroom environment while at the same time relaxing the traditional fast pace of a traditional  course.

Because courses last a minimum of 10 weeks the online CELTA allows learners, in the words of Cambridge ESOL, “increased amount of time and support away from the centre for reflection and development.” In practical terms, this opens the door for would-be educator who lack the time or logistical ability to pursue their dream of teaching English as a Second Language. In so doing, the online CELTA makes it possible for anyone to get the experience they need to step into the classroom with confidence.