Page 1 of 1

What is the REAL truth?

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:34 pm
by AlexY
First, let me say that I hope that either current or past teachers will be the ones to respond to this thread. I'm an admitted 'noob', but please be kind. I sincerely want to know just what the 'real skinny' is on Teaching English as a Foreign Language. (Or TESL, TESOL, or whatever you prefer to call it.)

I've only very recently become interested in teaching English abroad as a potential career. I think it is a fascinating opportunity to learn about new cultures, visit amazing places, and make new friends; all of which can enrich your own life. However, after doing some research, I keep finding that there seems to be two distinct opinions about this.

There are those that claim unless you have a Bachelor's Degree and also have been CELTA certified, you are doomed to horrible nightmare scenarios or scandalous conditions at the very best. On the other side, I am hearing that all you need is a relatively 'Accredited' TEFL certification and an adventurous spirit, and you are good to go. I am exaggerating slightly here, but both positions can't be entirely correct. Can they?

I figure common sense would say that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

From what I've understood so far, one CAN teach without a degree or CELTA, but it won't be in the most developed countries usually, or even the best schools in other places. There are usually exceptions, but we're talking about the general rules here. So, assuming that is true, what are we talking about here? I've heard various nightmare scenarios, but are they the norm?

I've heard that this path tends towards substandard living conditions, abandonment, and other serious issues that could potentially jeopardize someone. Are these only the worst cases, or are they the norm? I've also heard that the schools can be very friendly and welcoming, and people say they have had great experiences. I do understand that it is a VERY good idea to do some research on potential employers, but again we're talking general rules here.

I've been trying to find actual experienced teachers who either have been or still are overseas and can give some insight to these questions. If one can get by without the full on degree and CELTA, what are the best schools to choose from? Which schools offer the best 'after certification' support and job placement success?

I am personally not looking 'to get rich', or anything of that sort. I would like to be able to put some money back if possible, but I'm not looking for anything extraordinary. I would like to go and live reasonably comfortably, and experience new places and people, and be able to improve myself while doing so.

I currently do not have a degree, but I have learned about the international online University of the People which offers degrees (including BA's) for almost free. I was hoping it might be possible to get a teaching job overseas, and be able to continue my own education while doing so, and eventually earning my degree while still being able to travel and live abroad.

One school I have been looking at is the International TEFL Academy. I haven't really seen anything bad about them in my searching, and I have found decent reporting, but are there better options? I am a U.S. Air Force vet, and they do offer a discounted price for vets. One of their selling points is that they also offer lifetime support and assisted job placement for their alumni. I've also looked at ITTP, ITTT, i-to-i, and a few others. It is hard to know where they online hype begins, and where the real quality begins. Does one have better courses, but worse support afterwards? Or vice-versa?

Is this all a pipe dream? Am I living in a fantasy world?

I've seen online schools were one can get trained for as low as $500, but are they really a good way to go? Would such less expensive schools still offer good support after the training? I don't have a lot of money to begin with, so an online training course probably would be better for me, but does that mean I shouldn't bother?

I've heard some of the Pro degree and CELTA people say it is horrible and that one shouldn't bother. On the other hand, others have said it is a great way to go. Who is telling the truth? I understand that the idea about what the hiring schools themselves want, and what they are willing to take. Does this mean that most of the schools willing to accept something less are all bad, or at least so many it isn't worth it?

I'm also hearing differing opinions on the real 'state of demand' for teachers. Some say it is a quickly drying up opportunity for anyone without at least a degree, and others are saying that there is so much demand that the degree (in anything) is only a nice bonus. I get that better schools (and more developed nations) have higher expectations, but does that mean the lesser schools are just going to scam you and run for it? So to speak.

I feel like I'm spinning in the wind here, so help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Re: What is the REAL truth?

Posted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 1:44 pm
by Susan
Just two things to say:

you're talking about TEFL in any country in the world. Of course, salaries, working conditions and living conditions are going to differ from country to country.

It's also obvious that the better qualified, better experienced teachers get the better jobs (better paid or better work conditions). That is the same in any work area, be it hairdressing, mechanics or office work.

So yes, both sides of the story exist.

Re: What is the REAL truth?

Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:08 am
by AlexY
I appreciate your response Susan!

I do understand that there are going to be a wide array of jobs, ranging from quality placements, to very poor conditions. I guess I'm hoping to get some responses that are a little more specific, and also speaking to the 'normal' conditions one can expect given only a TEFL certification and little experience. Clearly, it would be nonsense to expect the best quality jobs in that scenario, but just how poor is the average scenario likely to be in that case?

Can someone in my position expect to be able to find a decent enough job to at least have a decent standard of living, or should crooked schools and remarkably substandard living conditions be the expected reality? I'm just trying to get a feel for what to expect as a 'noob', or would I really just be better off trying to get my BA from the online University of the People first, and THEN go for it?

I was hoping it might be possible to get my BA while teaching, or is that an unlikely scenario?

Thanks again! :)

Re: What is the REAL truth?

Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 5:19 pm
by Susan
HI AlexY

Members will be able to give you more specific info if you say where you'd like to work. Just give mention a region, you don't need to name a town. What age group are you interested in teaching?