For my first blog on this site I want to give my opinion about some of the ideas that, for whatever reason, have been perpetuated by certain people. Here are a few of the negative misconceptions about ESL…
1. ESL teachers are not real teachers: What do you call a ‘real teacher’ nowadays? Some say that people who teach English as a foreign language are unqualified and have jobs that are in no way similar to mainstream state school teachers back home. Okay, so most ESL teachers don’t have a Masters degree in Education and their role is much different to an elementary or high school teacher in the U.S.A, U.K and so on. On the other hand though, most of us complete a recognised intensive training course before beginning our careers, prepare detailed lesson plans and carry out teaching duties under the same basic principles as any teacher in, any subject, anywhere in the world. ESL teaching presents a whole range of challenges that are unique to this area of education. The job is often hard work and professional development in the industry is a long, bumpy road. If people don’t consider this job to be ‘real teaching’ they should talk to the millions of students in the language schools across the world and ask them what they have gained from attending an ESL school.
2. English language schools only care about making money: Around the world, particularly in Asia, language or ‘training’ schools are often private enterprises- offering extra-curricular education in English to local children and adults. Is there money involved? Yes. Does that mean that employers don’t care about their staff? Not necessarily. Obviously there are some organisations that are keen to make a quick buck at the cost of low paid and overworked teachers, but like any business, the people who start it usually have some interest in the well-being of their clients and staff. It’s easy to generalise from the horror stories that appear on forums and it’s easy to forget about the thousands of reliable, trustworthy and highly professional organisations that operate in every country!
3. You can’t earn big money from ESL teaching: This misconception usually comes from people who have looked at the salary amount on job ads and noticed that compared to equivalent wages back home, the monthly earning figures are small. What people need to bear in mind is that English teaching jobs abroad usually involve bonuses such as free or subsidised housing, air fare allowance, contract completion bonuses, regular pay increases and most importantly; MUCH cheaper costs of living in your new country of residence. Add all this up and compare the amount of money you can save every month to how much you would have to earn back home to bank that same amount after all your monthly outgoings! Probably the best way to debunk this myth though is to read a job ad for ESL teachers in Saudi Arabia…
4. Many teachers find themselves alone and without any support: Again there will be instances of this happening but if prospective teachers do their research beforehand and make back up plans for the worst case scenario they should be fine. If teachers feel like they don’t have the support network they need or feel trapped and alone, they can always leave to go back home or find a job elsewhere at any point in time. In fact, if your employer is not providing you with the basic support you require, you should probably think about working elsewhere anyway!
So I suppose on a final note, the thing to say is that despite some of the negative reputation the ESL industry has picked up in recent years, the industry on the whole is incredibly dynamic and I believe it’s gaining more credibility as time passes. Job seekers are right to read some of the more negative opinions before they reach a decision on their future, but I would strongly urge them to consider the misconceptions that often result from these views.
The BBC news published an article this week about China’s economy ‘slowing’ to a growth rate of (only) 9.5% per year. What this tells us is that even in its slowest growth periods, China is booming and growing at lightening speed.The demand for native English speakers is growing accordingly. As more people gain enough wealth to send their children to private language schools, new providers are popping up all over China. In my view the number of ESL teaching jobs across the country is going to increase rapidly over the next few years as China continues to develop as a nation.
It’s not just the extra cash floating around that ensures growth in the Chinese ESL market. The country’s culture is unique in its emphasis on educational success. With many families only having one child, the Chinese are keen to make a success of their son or daughter and constantly strive to give them the edge over others in life. They hope to achieve this in many ways, extra-curricular activities are particularly important. The Chinese know that for their child to get into the best universities and get the best jobs, they increasingly need to be proficient in spoken English. The Chinese middle-class tend to be competitive and it will often be the case that parents hear about their friend’s child going to a language school and follow suit to keep up with them.
The icing on the cake is that China is very much aware of the importance of English in engaging with a global economy. With new economic powerhouses emerging over the next few years, for instance Brazil and India, China needs to put itself in the best position to secure business deals with developed nations. The English language is, of course, the communicative lubricant of the international market.
All of this considered, it is a ‘no brainer’ that China’s ESL market is going to grow significantly over the coming years and the demand for native English speakers will increase as a result.
One of the most prominent questions amongst newbies to the ESL world is whether or not ESL training is essential. Now, to say something is essential we are really asking ‘can you become an ESL teacher without any prior training and qualifications?’ If this is your question then the answer is simply yes.
Many long-timers in the ESL industry boast that they got into the industry without any training beforehand. I would say to anyone who wants to get started in ESL teaching that you should think of prior training in terms of value-added to your personal abilities and resume. This is a better mindset to take on when you evaluate ESL training. Training courses come in many forms, some are short and intensive, others are longer in duration. Some are relatively cheap whilst others are incredibly expensive. It usually comes down to your ability to pay and the amount of time you can dedicate to a course. Regardless of which course you choose, lets look at the value of courses generally…
Okay, so you want to be an English teacher but you’ve never stepped foot into a classroom before. You may have done some research but you probably won’t have too much of an idea about what’s involved in the job. Any course should provide an insight into the industry and show you what (in theory, at least) happens in the ESL classroom. It will probably also equip you with the theoretical background you need to understand how to teach English as a foreign language effectively. Just having the knowledge of how it all works, without ever putting it into practice, is a great start. Most courses will also give you some practical experience, usually via role-play, demos and mock lessons. Although this is not the real deal it will give you a feel for what your role will be and probably give you more confidence to take into your first lesson. Although there are many other reasons why training is important, the most valuable one is that you will have something to add to your resume and job applications. It’s true that there are thousands of jobs out there but having qualifications will certainly give you a step up the ladder.
India is sending a team to Kyrgyzstan to train its armed forces in UN peacekeeping operations and also impart English language skills. The team will arrive in the central Asian country by the end of this month, a defence ministry spokesperson said.
The decision was announced after a meeting between defence minister A K Antony and his Kyrgyz counterpart Major General Abibilla Kudayberdiev in Bishkek on Monday. Antony is leading a defence delegation to Kyrgyzstan.
Antony said though the present level of defence engagements were rather limited between the two sides, there was “potential to enhance the scope and scale of activities in a gradual manner in areas of mutual interest, particularly in the field of military training, defence research and development and production of defence armaments”.
On Tuesday, Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva and Antony inaugurated the Kyrgyz-Indian Mountain Biomedical Research Centre at Bishkek. The spokesperson said the centre will carry out research on the mechanism of short term and long term high altitude adaptation. “It will also mobilize and synchronise the expertise of the two countries in the area of high altitude research,” he said.
Scientists at the centre will focus on molecular biology approaches to identify markers for screening of people for high altitude resistance and susceptibility to high altitude sickness and development of mountain maladies.
Antony said India had a wide network of research establishments not only in armaments but also in physiology, medicine, animal husbandry, nutrition etc under defence establishments. “We can explore areas for cooperation in research and development in high-altitude base agriculture, plantation, animal husbandry, poultry and food processing that would also help generate rural employment and remove poverty,” he said.
Teaching adults English as a second language is very similar to teaching children because the foundation of the language is learned through labeling things, drawing pictures and pulling from personal experience. Teach English to adults with information from an experienced English tutor in this free video on teaching.