Thursday, July 16, 2009

Applying to English EFL Schools Abroad: Why They Don’t Answer Your Messages

Comic: "Rabbits Against Magic" by Jonathan Lemon

Why They Don’t Answer Your Messages

With increasing frequency, I receive e-mails very similar to the following one which illustrates a growing trend in English language teaching. You write to schools, institutes and companies looking for an overseas English teaching position and after weeks of e-mails to perhaps dozens of locations, you have not received as much as a single reply. “Why?” you ask. Here’s my response to one reader on that very aspect along with my suggested solutions.

An EFL Teaching Help Request Letter

My name is *Shelley Kelly and I am a recent graduate from *Oxford House College. The purpose for this email is to obtain advice and information concerning teaching English as a foreign language in Colombia. I am on the waiting list of the British Council, but in the meantime have been emailing universities and institutes for information on how to apply. However, none have got back to me. I am currently waiting to arrange an interview with the International House in Bogota, and was wondering if you could provide any details and advice on how to go about the application process.” Sincerely, S. K.

Note: *Some names changed to protect privacy of correspondents and schools

Here is an excerpt of my response:

Dear S.K.,

... International House is an excellent educational institution with offices worldwide. I’ve been to their local offices in Mexico City, Barcelona, Spain and in Bogota, Colombia. They are new to Colombia with an office in Central Bogota. (I passed their new office in the colonial, historic neighborhood of "Candelaria" earlier this month while I was in Bogota.) The main reason that companies, institutes and schools don't answer you is because you're not IN Colombia. This is often true of many schools, institutes and companies in a number of countries. For them, the odds of your never showing up are too great for these places to “waste time” with extensive correspondence and information. Then again, you may arrive in Colombia (or wherever), then quickly decide for whatever reasons, the language, the customs, the culture or living conditions, attitudes of the locals - that you don't want to stay, then just hop the next thing smoking out of the country. Then the school is stuck with a lot of time, trouble and resources invested with no return. It happens so much that schools are leery and won't even answer applicants from out of the country.

For Example:

Some time ago, upon arriving in Cali, Colombia to teach English for a local English language teaching institute, a former classmate of mine, Sarah Zeller, wrote to me complaining of her dislike for the conditions she faced. They had “provided her with housing” which she then described as “being on the noisiest, most crowded and polluted street in the city”. She disliked (polite term) the working conditions, the salary, the local environment, etc. and it was no wonder to me that shortly thereafter, she abruptly left Colombia for another opportunity.


1. Try applying through the school where you were certified. They should have a placement office or someone who handles that.

2. Another idea is to actually GO to the country you are intensely interested in and applying directly to universities, schools, institutes and companies. You'll have instant credibility because you're "on location". They can see you, talk with you directly and do a personal interview on-the-spot. You in turn, can check out their facilities first hand, ask about schedules, salary and cost-of-living, etc.

Also, one of my e-books “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, should provide you with more "practical" information on teaching English as a foreign language abroad.

I hope this initial information helps you some. Please feel free to let me know if you have any other questions or need more specific information.

Sincerely yours,

Prof. Larry M. Lynch
Santiago de Cali University
Cali, Colombia

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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