Monday, May 23, 2011

7 Tricks for Landing a Great Job Teaching ESL-EFL (English as a Second Language)

7 tricks for landing a GREAT job teaching English as a second language and
keeping it

Have you dreamed of living in a foreign country, traveling
around the world, or meeting new people and experiencing new cultures?

Maybe you have, and thought that it was inaccessible or out
of reach. Let me tell you, it's not!

Like you, I had a keen interest in international travel,
and wanted to get out of the USA.

I was a somewhat seasoned IT professional. Life was great,
until the bottom fell out of the IT Market in the 90's. . . I realized that I
was competing against people from all around the world, in a market I wasn't
really that interested in, and that if I wanted to stay ahead, it was going to
require continual study, certification and re-certification for the rest of my

So I decided to take off. Initially, I worked for a
management consulting company in India that outsourced Contact and Call centers
from the West. I did really well, and ended up being a vice president of that
company. Later, I taught English in China, India, and finally, in Thailand,
where I've stayed ever since.

Teaching English or ESL can be a very rewarding experience
for the right person. In many cultures, teachers are held in very high esteem,
and you'll make a great salary, that will allow you to live a very comfortable

If you want to land that dream ESL Teaching jobs, there are
a few tips that will help you out immensely.

Look for jobs in the country where you want to teach.
It's relatively easy to find jobs in China, Korea, Japan, etc. online, but you
never know what you're getting into until you're there. It's a great idea to
go ahead and get a "lay of the land", take a look at the school in question,
and meet and talk with some other ESL teachers who you will work with.
They'll be able to give you lots of great information on the potential job
that will help you make a better decision.

In some countries, like Thailand
and many others, it's difficult to get hired from outside of the country. So
just plan on a short vacation, that may turn into a long term stay, and be sure
to take enough money to return home, or to another country you're interested in
if things don't work out.

Dress to impress! You don't need to show up for an
interview wearing a three piece suit, but you need to look like a teacher. A
nice, ironed/pressed shirt, a pair of slacks, and ALWAYS a tie should serve you well.

Bring copies of all of your qualifications with you to
an interview. You'll need copies of your original Bachelors degree, any TEFL
or ESL teaching certifications you have, and in some countries like Korea,
you'll need originals of your transcripts from university.

Get a ESL/TEFL teaching certificate! There are lots out
there. The most recognized is probably the CELTA, offered through Cambridge
University at many locations throughout the world. The CELTA is a four week
course with an observed teaching practicum. If you're looking for the better
jobs in the EFL/ESL world, CELTA is definitely the way to go. There are lots
of other certificate programs that you can choose from, and even many online.
Just remember - If you're interviewing against similarly skilled and
experienced candidates, the better your credentials are, the better your
chance of landing the position!

Emphasize ANY teaching and/or training experience that
you may have had on your resume. If you taught a Sunday school class at your
Church, have trained people at work, or have any relevant experience with
children or education and training, this is much more important than being the
A1 bean-counter of the year at your previous position.

Talk with other teachers and learn about their classroom
management style. This is a key factor, especially in teaching young
learners. You may bet the worlds most gifted grammarian, but if you can't
lead a classroom of energetic 10 year olds, you'll be lost, or burn out very

Try to learn all of the subtleties of the culture that
you can, and especially the ones which will affect your job of teaching ESL!
For instance, in many Asian cultures, children are VERY reluctant to tell you
the names of their parents, because the other students will call them by their
parents name. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for the students,
its something of an insult to their family and specifically their parents.
So, if you have an exercise in your course material where the student tells
their name, their favorite food, the names of their family members, etc. you
may want to adjust this to fit the specific culture you're teaching in.

Once you begin teaching ESL, you'll learn to rely on your
colleagues who are more experienced, and who are successful as ESL/EFL
teachers. With young learners, make classroom management your main priority
from the start, and you'll reap the rewards of a great class later on!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Study Hard and Ace Your Test Taking - Still Believe that Rubbish?

You Surely Don't Believe You Can Pass Exams Without Test Taking Strategies


Test Taking is Unfair. Make the unfairness work for you.


"...the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and chance happen to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9:11)


When Life Hands You A Lemon


Sell lemonade. Life is unfair, so test taking strategies are a great introduction to life. You could organise student marches to protest against test taking, but nobody would take any notice. So take advantage of test taking strategies.

Think about it. The alternative could be even more unfair. Imagine what it would be like if your teacher could just choose which students would pass, and which ones would fail without any test taking strategies to help you. I know that I would have passed fewer exams that way!

Do you remember when you were a child playing games? Did you keep changing the rules to suit you? When you find a system that victimises group A and favours group B, you must twist the rules so that you fit into group B. Nothing has really changed for test taking strategies.


Trivia Quiz


Have you ever watched a quiz on TV and thought "Who cares? - What has that got to do with real life?" That is how I see test taking strategies. You aim to win with test taking strategies regardless of the triviality of the exams.

If you are learning to write computer programs your exams will ask you for the dates of the first computer, or when different computer languages were invented. Does that show that you are a better programmer? Of course not.

It is unfair. Just learn the dates and other trivia to benefit from the unfairness with your test taking strategies.


Essay Test Taking


Most exams contain essay questions. These are heavily biased in favour of journalists. So what should you do? All together now... Become a journalist!

You can know ten times as much about your subject as the winner of the exams. But he knew all the journalistic tricks for test taking strategies.

Slow handwriting can severely handicap you. Choose an efficient style of handwriting as described in my book about exams. Then practice taking dictation from the radio. Think about the words as you write - not about the letters. Fast writing helps with your test taking strategies.

Misleading questions: examine each question thoroughly for double meanings, or specialist language. I once failed an essay question that asked me to write about the mechanics of a plant. I wrote an excellent essay on the subject, but got only 2 marks out of 20. When I complained, the professor explained that he wanted me to write about the mechanical strengthening of the xylem and phloem. He admitted that I had answered the question as he had written it, but wouldn't change his marks for it.

My book about test taking strategies gives you two examples of how to answer an essay question when you don't know anything about the answer.


Multiple Choice


Trick Questions: MC exams are too easy. You don't have to think of the right answer - only recognise it when you see it. So examiners always include several trick questions to prevent you getting 100% with your test taking strategies.

Photographic memory for test taking: you can pass if you remember well, without understanding anything. Your knowledge will be completely useless, but you will have passed.

Chance: if there are 4 alternatives for each answer, you have a 25% chance of passing the paper by answering at random.

Using test taking strategies you can push this chance away up. Remember, you already know at least something about the subject. Use the unfairness in your favour.


I've passed the exam - you haven't


My university classmates used to love making lecturers admit that they didn't know something. Then they would ask "Aren't you supposed to know?" The lecturer would always answer "I've passed the exams - you haven't."

That is the glaring unfairness in test taking. You will probably never use your knowledge again. I passed my calculus test taking. Ten years later I needed to use calculus for the first time. I had forgotten how, so got a student to do the job for me. His test taking was ahead of him!