Teaching English as a foreign language

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Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) refers to teaching English to students whose first language is not English. TEFL usually occurs in the student's own country, either within the state school system, or privately, e.g., in an after-hours language school or with a tutor. TEFL teachers may be native or non-native speakers of English.

Teaching techniques[edit]

Reading[edit]

TEFL that uses literature aimed at children and teenagers is rising in popularity. Youth-oriented literature offers simpler material ("simplified readers" are produced by major publishers), and often provides a more conversational style than literature for adults. Children's literature in particular sometimes provides subtle cues to pronunciation, through rhyming and other word play. One method for using these books is the multiple-pass technique. The instructor reads the book, pausing often to explain certain words and concepts. On the second pass, the instructor reads the book completely through without stopping.

Communicative language teaching[edit]

Communicative language teaching (CLT) emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. Despite a number of criticisms,[1] it continues to be popular, particularly in Japan, Taiwan,[2] and Europe.

The task-based language learning (TBLL) approach to CLT has gained ground in recent years. Proponents believe CLT is important for developing and improving speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills, and that it prevents students' merely listening passively to the teacher without interaction. Dogme[3] is a similar communicative approach that encourages teaching without published textbooks, instead focusing on conversational communication among the learners and the teacher.[4]

Blended learning[edit]

Blended learning is a combination of face-to-face teaching and online interactions (also known as CALL or computer-assisted language learning), achieved through a virtual learning environment (VLE).

VLEs have been a major growth point in the ELT industry over the last five years. There are two types:

  • Externally hosted platforms that a school or institution exports content to (e.g., the proprietary Web Course Tools, or the open source Moodle)
  • Content-supplied, course-managed learning platforms (e.g. the Macmillan English Campus)

The former provides pre-designed structures and tools, while the latter supports course-building by the language school—teachers can blend existing courses with games, activities, listening exercises, and grammar reference units contained online. This supports classroom, self-study or remote practice (for example in an internet café).

Online classroom[edit]

Advances in technology made it possible to get a TEFL qualification online. Students can enroll into online classes that are accredited by organizations such as Accreditat. It should be noted that there is no single overarching accreditation body for TEFL.[5] Study materials are divided into modules. Students take one or multiple tests per study module. Support is handled by tutors, who can be reached via email. After successfully finishing the last module the student is granted a certificate. It comes in digital form or can be shipped to the student's address. Getting such a certificate can be beneficial in many ways. The student can get a bigger paycheck or teach English in foreign countries.

Qualifications for TEFL teachers[edit]

Qualification requirements vary considerably from country to country and among employers within the same country. In many institutions it is possible to teach without a degree or teaching certificate. Some institutions will consider it necessary to be a native speaker with an MA TESOL. A university degree in English language and literature can also be of value, as indeed can any specialist degree. Other institutions consider a proof of English proficiency, a University degree and a basic teaching qualification to be more than sufficient. However, the level of academic qualification need not be the most important qualification, as many schools will be more interested in your interpersonal skills. For trainers wishing to enter the academic field, publications can be as important as qualifications, especially if they relate to English use in your field. Where there is a high demand for teachers and no statutory requirements, employers may accept otherwise unqualified candidates. Each country is different, and acceptance depends on demand for English teachers and the teacher's previous teaching and life experiences.

As a general rule schools will tend to prefer qualifications that involve a significant amount of assessed teaching: it is often said that "Learning to teach without classroom practice is like learning to drive without ever encountering traffic".[6] Shorter courses and online courses often lack assessed teaching practice. Course makers have recognized this and have begun introducing combined TEFL courses which have an element of assessed teaching.[7]

Some educational facilities are now offering two or three well-defined certificates instead of one general certificate. For example, ILT (Introduction to Language Teaching) - 40 hours, PLT (Practice of Language Training) - 30 hours, and Literacy - 30 hours.

Private language schools are likely to require at least a certificate based on successful completion of a course consisting of a minimum of 100 hours. Major programs like EPIK will offer a higher salary to teachers who have completed any TEFL Course, online or otherwise, so long as the program meets the minimum 100 hour requirement.[8] Internet-based TEFL courses are generally accepted worldwide, and particularly in Asia, where the largest jobs markets exist in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.[9]

Age/gender requirements might also be encountered. In some countries outside Europe and America, for example the Middle East, schools might hire men over women or vice versa. And they might hire only teachers in a certain age range; usually between 20 and 40 years of age. Anyone under 19 may be able to teach TEFL, but usually only in a volunteer situation, such as a refugee camp.

Pay and conditions worldwide[edit]

As in most fields, the pay depends greatly on education, training, experience, seniority, and expertise. As with much expatriate work, employment conditions vary among countries, depending on the level of economic development and how much people want to live there. In relatively poor countries, even a low wage may equate to a comfortable middle class lifestyle.[10] EFL Teachers who wish to earn money often target countries in East Asia such as China, South Korea and Japan where demand is high. The Middle East is also often named as one of the best paying areas, although usually better qualifications are needed: at least a CELTA and one or two years' experience.[11]

There is a danger of exploitation by employers. Spain in particular has encountered widespread criticism[by whom?] given the overwhelming number of small to medium businesses (including TEFL schools) which routinely dodge the teachers' social security contributions as a means of maximising profits.[citation needed] The result is that most teachers are entitled to less unemployment or sick pay than they would be entitled to if their salaries and contributions were declared in accordance with the law. Similar situations increase in countries with labor laws that may not apply to foreign employees, or which may be unenforced. An employer might ignore contract provisions, especially regarding working hours, working days, and end-of-contract payments. Difficulties faced by foreign teachers regarding language, culture, or simply limited time can make it difficult to demand pay and conditions that their contracts stipulate. Some disputes arise from cross-cultural misunderstandings. Teachers who can't adapt to living and working in a foreign country often leave after a few months. It is especially difficult at this time for teachers to recognize which jobs are legitimate, as many of the leading jobs boards allow unfiltered paid posting, but there are new sites that have risen up to help stop these issues.[12]

TEFL region and country locations[edit]

Europe[edit]

Major European cities have established language schools on-site or operated as agencies sending teachers to various locations. September is the peak recruiting month, and many annual contracts last from October until June. Employers prefer graduates with experience in teaching Business English or in teaching young learners.

Instructors from the United Kingdom and Ireland, countries within the European Union, do not need any visas to work within the EU, which reduces demand for non-EU teachers. Immigration laws require that non-EU job applicants submit documents from their home countries in person after the European employer files an officially documented job offer. If the worker has travelled to Europe to find the job, this means they must return home and wait for some time. Following the process correctly does not guarantee getting a visa. Many private-sector employers do not subsidise them at all, because they are able to hire the staff easily from the EU countries.

International schools hire some experienced and well-qualified non-EU teachers. Education ministries, i.e. those of France and Spain, offer opportunities for assistant language instructors in public schools. Part-time employment is usually allowed under an education visa, but this visa also requires proper attendance at an accredited EU college or university, institute, or other educational program. Other teachers work illegally under tourist visas, since the "don't ask, don't tell" method is the only viable solution to avoiding impossible bureaucracy and eventual job rejection.[dubious ]

Despite claims from websites that sell courses, state schools often do not accept brief TEFL courses as a substitute for a university degree in English education.[13] In Spain it is impossible to get a job with a state school unless you go through the process of getting your foreign teaching degree accepted in Spain and then pass the civil service examination ("oposiciones").

Demand for TEFL tends to be stronger in countries which joined the European Union recently. They also tend to have lower costs of living. Non-EU teachers usually find legal work there with less difficulty. The Balkan former Yugoslav countries have seen recent growth in TEFL—private schools have recruited Anglophone teachers there for several years.

Very few foreign instructors work in Scandinavia, where stricter immigration laws and a policy of relying on bilingual local teachers apply.

Asia[edit]

Cambodia[edit]

Demand for English teachers in Cambodia has grown over the past decade, though the country has a small population and is dependent on foreign aid for much of its economic development, limiting growth.

China[edit]

Many opportunities exist within the People's Republic of China, including preschool, university, private schools and institutes, companies, and tutoring. NGOs, such as Teach For China, are an opportunity as well. The provinces and the Ministry of Education in Beijing tightly govern public schools, while private schools have more freedom to set work schedules, pay, and requirements.

English teaching salaries in China are dependent on multiple factors including; Teaching hours specified in contract, location, inclusions/bonuses, and public vs private sector. It is important to note that due to high demand, salaries have increased significantly over recent years. A standard contract within the public school system generally entails less than 20 hours of teaching time, weekends off, included accommodations, flight stipend/reimbursement for 1 year contracts, paid public holidays, medical insurance and Z visa (working permit) sponsorship. These positions offer an average base salary of 6,000 - 7,000 RMB per month in smaller cities and rural areas. In Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou these positions now offer 10,000 RMB plus per month due to higher living costs. The private sector is less uniform with salaries going as high as 20,000 RMB per month for DOS's in major cities.[14] Private positions tend to demand higher hours, may include teaching in multiple locations, and often require weekend and evening working schedules. They also are more flexible with housing options, often offering teachers a choice between provided accommodations, or a stipend towards rental costs.

By law, all non-Chinese English teachers should hold a minimum bachelors degree in any discipline, be at least 25 years old, have at least 2 years of working experience (unrelated is fine).[15] Due to demand, these rules are often overlooked, and schools often are able to obtain work permits for teachers who do not meet the minimums, although this is tightening up in the major cities.

Public schools usually pay during vacations, but not for summer break unless the teacher renews the contract,[16] while many private schools have shortened vacation schedules and may pay for whatever short number of days is allowed for vacation.

Company jobs vary, depending on the number of employees they want to train. They may employ a teacher for one or two classes, or a complete set of 14 to 16 hours a week. Tutoring also varies, as in some cases a whole family of students or just one family member.

Some teachers work successfully on an independent basis with several contracts for tutoring, individual college classes, and some company work. The majority of teachers accept contracts with schools. Public school contracts are fairly standard, while private schools set their own requirements. Schools try to hire teachers from Anglophone countries, but because of demand, others with good English language skills can find positions.

Hong Kong[edit]

Hong Kong was once a British Crown colony, and English-language education is taken seriously there, as demonstrated by government-funded research.[11] Hong Kong was handed back to the People’s Republic of China in 1997 and became known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

Teaching English in Hong Kong has become quite a business. Many English teaching institutions have since opened. Big private names include Headstart Group Limited and English for Asia. Native English speakers may quickly find a job teaching English, although foreigners should be aware of shady companies who often pull tricks on their employees. A qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) has become a pre-requisite to enter the Native English-speaking Teacher Scheme (NET scheme), which is funded by the HKSAR government and provides the ultimate career destination for an English teacher. On top of attractive salary, housing is provided with all the other fringe benefits including full holiday pay, provident fund and health insurance. Housing or rental support is the biggest incentive to foreign teachers as housing cost in HK is ranked one of the highest in the world.

Once a teacher is on the NET scheme, he can move from school to school after completion of a normally two-year contract. Therefore, a teacher has a lot of opportunities to land himself an ideal position at an ideal school, provided he has strong track record. While many foreigners think coming to HK with a short online TEFL qualification is sufficient, both public and private schools are looking for TEFL qualifications listed with the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Vocational and Academic Qualifications and Hong Kong Education Bureau [1] There are less than a handful of them. Acquiring one of those qualifications gives a foreigner a definite advantage to securing a preferred teaching position at a formal school, whether private or public, kindergarten, primary or secondary. When selecting NET, schools will not normally consider learning centre experience due to the differences in class size, continuity of student group, level of classroom management skills and sophistication in teaching pedagogy required between schools and centres.

Japan[edit]

In Japan, the JET Programme employs assistant language teachers and teaching assistants to work in Japanese high schools and elementary schools. Other teachers work in eikaiwa (private language schools). The largest of these chains are Aeon and ECC. The sector is not well regulated. Nova, one of the largest chains with over 900 branches, collapsed in October 2007, leaving thousands of foreign teachers without income or, for some, a place to live. Other teachers work in universities. Agencies are increasingly used to send English speakers into kindergartens, primary schools, and private companies whose employees need to improve their Business English. Agencies, known in Japan as haken, or dispatch companies, have recently been competing among themselves to get contracts from various Boards of Education for Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools, and wages have decreased steadily.[citation needed] JALT (the Japan Association for Language Teaching) is the largest NPO for language teachers (mainly native English speakers), with nearly 3,000 members.[17]

Laos[edit]

English language has been increasingly important in education, international trade and cooperation in Laos since the 1990s. The government started to promote foreign direct investment, and the introduction of Laos as an observer at ASEAN in 1992 also increased the necessity of English. Laos was considered as a full member of ASEAN in 1997. From 1992-97, the government had to improve its fluency in English.

More recently, high-ranking officials, business people, and shareholders have started to work at their English. This trend looks set to increase as English is due to be included and taught in the field of education too.

Middle East[edit]

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the main locations for instructors to work in this region. Many positions here offer higher salaries, ample vacation time, and paid airfare to and from the instructor's home country, but also tend to require more qualifications and experience. Private academies and university programs are the main venues of instruction. Some public primary and secondary schools, such as those in Abu Dhabi, have begun to recruit foreign English instructors.

Mongolia[edit]

The Peace Corps has 136 volunteers in Mongolia, many of whom are English teachers[18] mostly teaching in the vast rural areas, where the population density is low. In Ulaanbaatar, a modest number of professional NETs teach at private institutes and some schools. In addition to foreign instructors from the major English-speaking countries, there are Filipinos teaching in Mongolian schools, institutes and large industrial or mining companies.

South Korea[edit]

There is great demand for native English speakers willing to teach in South Korea, though it is dropping. In 2013, the number of native English speakers teaching in public schools dropped 7.7% in one year to 7,011.[19] Most of the nation's provinces are removing foreign English teachers from their middle and high schools. As with Japan, Korea is also nurturing a government-run program for teacher placement called English Program in Korea (EPIK). EPIK reported that it recruited 6,831 foreign teachers to work in Korean public schools. There are a number of associations for English teachers in Korea, the largest one with a significant number of native speakers is KOTESOL.

Institutions commonly provide round-trip airfare and a rent-free apartment for a one-year contract. Note that since March 15, 2008, visa rules have changed. Prospective teachers must now undergo a medical examination and a criminal background check, produce an original degree certificate, and provide sealed transcripts. On arriving in South Korea, teachers must undergo a further medical check before they receive an ARC (Alien Registration Card) card.

Korean labor law provides all workers with a severance pay equivalent to one month's salary is paid at the end of a contract. Most job contracts are for 1 year and include entrance and exit plane tickets. Citizens of the USA, Canada and Australia[20] also receive back their pension contributions and their employers' part of the pension contributions on leaving the country. The average starting pay for those with no previous teaching experience and no degree in the English language is usually between USD $1,800 to USD $2,200.[clarification needed]

There are four main places to work in South Korea: universities, private schools, public schools (EPIK), and private language academies (known in South Korea as hagwons). Private language academies (in 2005 there were over thirty thousand such academies teaching English[21]), the most common teaching location in Korea, can be for classes of school children, housewives, university students (often at the university itself), or businesspeople. There are numerous, usually small independent hagwons but also numerous large chains.

Taiwan[edit]

In Taiwan, most teachers work in cram schools, known locally as bushibans or buxibans. Some are part of chains, like Hess and Kojen. Others operate independently. Such schools pay around US$2,000 per month. End-of-contract bonuses equivalent to an extra month's pay are not mandated by law as in South Korea, and are uncommon in Taiwan. Also, under current law it is illegal for foreigners to teach English in pre-schools or kindergartens, though it is almost always overlooked by both the schools and the government, thereby making the practice common and accepted. To teach English and live in Taiwan, you must be a holder of an Alien Resident Card (ARC) which is supplied to passport holders of native English speaking countries, by hiring schools ARC candidates must hold a Bachelor degree from a four-year university, or an accredited.

Thailand[edit]

Thailand has a great demand for native English speakers, and has a ready-made workforce in the form of travelers and expatriates attracted by the local lifestyle despite relatively low salaries. Teachers can expect to earn a starting salary of around 25,000 Baht.[22] Because Thailand prohibits foreigners from most non-skilled and skilled occupations, a high percentage of foreign residents teach English for a living, and are able to stay in the country. There is also a growing demand for Filipino English teachers, as they are often hired for about half the salary of a native speaker. Qualifications for EFL teachers in Thailand have become stricter in the last couple of years,[citation needed] with most schools now requiring a Bachelor's degree plus a 120-hour TEFL course .[citation needed] It is possible to find work without a degree in Thailand. However, as a degree makes getting a work permit far easier, to work without a degree is often to work illegally, opening teachers up to exploitation by employers.[23]

Americas[edit]

There has been significant growth in TEFL within the wealthier non-Anglophone countries of North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean. In particular, many teachers work in Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Chile has even made it a national goal to become a bilingual nation within the coming years. As proof of its commitment to this goal the Chilean Ministry of Education sponsors English Opens Doors, a program that recruits English speakers to work in Chilean Public High Schools.

Costa Rica[edit]

Costa Rica is a popular choice among EFL teachers in light of the high market demand for English instructors, the stable economic and political atmosphere, and the vibrant culture. Teaching positions are available through public and private schools, language schools, universities and colleges, and through private tutoring. Language schools typically hire all year round, and teachers of Business English are also in high demand. There are quality Costa Rica TEFL training courses that offer certification as well as job placement assistance following completion of a course.

Africa[edit]

TEFL in Africa has historically been linked to aid programs such as the US Peace Corps or the multinational Voluntary Service Overseas organization, as well as other aid programs. Most African countries employ bilingual local teachers. Poverty and instability in some African countries has made it difficult to attract foreign teachers. There has been increasing government investment in education and a growing private sector.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ van Hattum, Ton (2006), The Communicative Approach Rethought
  2. ^ The Trend and Challenge for Teaching EFL at Taiwanese Universities
  3. ^ Meddings, L and Thornbury, S (2009) Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching. Peaslake: Delta.
  4. ^ Luke, Meddings (2004-03-26). "Throw away your textbooks". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  5. ^ "A Guide to TEFL Accreditation". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  6. ^ " World TEFL Info, World TEFL Info
  7. ^ "Distance learning courses can also be a good introduction, but feedback on your teaching practice is important and most distance courses will not include this, and therefore will not be acceptable to many teaching institutes." The British Council
  8. ^ http://www.epik.go.kr/contents.do?contentsNo=49&menuNo=278
  9. ^ http://eslinsider.com/blog/will-this-tefl-course-be-accepted-or-recognized
  10. ^ "TEFL Pay". Cactus TEFL. Retrieved 2010-05-19. "There does however seem to be a basic TEFL LAW, which states that if you're on a full-time contract of 24-26 teaching hours per week, you will have enough money to pay rent in a modest, possibly shared apartment, pay for food, get out and about to explore at weekends, have the odd beer or glass of wine of an evening, and, over the period of your contract, get some money put aside for flights home at Christmas. Generally speaking, you tend to live fairly basically, and what you earn is not usually enough to support partners, family back home or pay back debts or mortgage instalments. In many ways, TEFL can be a bit of a return to your student days, where there is less emphasis on material 'stuff' and more in being absorbed into the culture of the experience." 
  11. ^ "TEFL Salary Map". TEFLicious. Retrieved 2014-04-21. "Hover over a country to see average monthly pay and required qualifications." 
  12. ^ https://eslready.com/home
  13. ^ Teacher Training (TEFL) Frauds, Frank Adamo
  14. ^ https://jobs.gaijinpot.com/job/view/job_id/85903/lang/en
  15. ^ http://mytefl.net/jobs/China
  16. ^ Mavrides, G. (2008), Travel and Medical Benefits in Foreign Teachers' Guide to Living and Teaching in China
  17. ^ JALT.org web site
  18. ^ Peace Corps. "Mongolia | Asia | Peace Corps". Peacecorps.gov. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  19. ^  . "Native English teacher head count continues decline-The Korea Herald". Nwww.koreaherald.com. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  20. ^ Australian Embassy, Republic of Korea: Australia-Korea Social Security Agreement
  21. ^ p. 6.
  22. ^ "Teach English in Thailand", With a degree, a respected TEFL qualification and all the relevant paperwork you can expect to earn a starting salary of around 25,000 Baht (US$800) a month but that could be as high as 60,000 (US$1850) depending on your experience and the location of the school.
  23. ^ "Government vs. Private Language Schools in Thailand" Some TEFL certificate providers have started offering residential courses in Thailand as a way of ensuring their students the necessary government-required experience and cultural awareness.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]