Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Teach English Abroad: Getting Your Second English Teaching Position

Question: Do you have any advice? With my TEFL and technical degree, I can't get a teaching position at a bilingual school. It's depressing!

Thanks for any help at all!!

When several readers sent in “generically similar” questions like this and the ones below, my response was similar to each. It helped them. Perhaps it will help you too. Sooner or later, we all leave our first ELT position for “greener pastures”. Sometimes we stay. Sometimes we don’t. Often we simply want a better salary or income to help support the better life we were originally looking for. Here are the situations, questions and my response.

“About teaching English abroad; I wanted to ask you a couple of questions.”

“I have a technical degree and years of successful experience but I find myself with a desire to do something different. I visited my dream country on vacation and I fell in love with the country. Now I am giving up a good job in the USA and moving to abroad to teach English.”

“I took the TEFL and have my certification but I am finding that most schools want an Education-related degree and my technical degree seems to be hurting me despite the TEFL. I have found work with private students but I am having a hard time finding full-time teaching jobs in one of my more desired cities. For me it's not only about the money. I just want to teach at a high-level school or university.”

Here’s What to Do

My response: I'm a little surprised at the "difficulty" you seem to be having, but I'd like to suggest a slightly different approach. You're obviously not marketing to target markets that could most benefit from your multiple expertise. If I may be a bit blunt, you need to get off your duff and do some marketing research. Then market to the target markets you find.

- First, write a cover letter which highlights your technical background with your teaching skills. Show how one complements the other. Focus on trade / technical schools and / or technical career faculties in universities.

- Second, write proposals for teaching ESP, that is technical English to businesses and companies in your target areas. Intensive English courses of from one week to one month might work best at first. Use the phone book, chamber of commerce and periodicals for leads on companies to target.

- Third, advertise in large local newspapers using a small but highly targeted ad for teaching business / technical English to high-tech companies and business professionals. Get some decent business cards too - with your full contact information on one side and your services / expertise on the other. I'll bet you don't have good business cards at the moment, do you?

- Finally, you're causing your own problem in part, which is good in that you can then provide your own solutions. Get to work. If you really get stuck and genuinely require additional help, let me know and I'll try to prod you in the right directions again.

"I hope I've helped. What happens to you is up to you - not me or anybody else for that matter."

One final point: Don't give up.
Keep plugging away. If it takes a couple of months or more to saturate the market sufficiently to start getting relevant feedback, so be it.

Do what it takes to succeed.

The opportunities are out there.

Now you just go out and get them.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. For more information on entering into or advancing in the fascinating field of ELT send an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject heading for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail:

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