Can I avoid becoming a hack English teacher? Need advice

I’d like to finance my Taiwan adventure (and perhaps later on, PRC China), but I’ve never taught ESL and I don’t want to become a hack English teacher.

I have a history degree from an America university. I consider myself very responsible and conscientious. I would rate my understanding of English as “average” or typical of someone with my background and education. I am a fast learner. I am very interested in languages and literature.

I don’t want to rip-off students off by presenting myself as an subject matter expert when clearly I am not. So, I’d like to find a school that would provide sufficient support and training that would allow me a decent chance at success.

Is this realistic or am I doomed to be a hack?

Why not take a TESOL course and get certified?

You are never ‘doomed’ to ripping people off. You have a choice. Googled this for you:http://www.english-international.com/CELTA.html Some of the chains give support and training. Check out Shane. Good luck.

the sad thing is that you won’t be presenting yourself as something special - in many cases, your school will do that for you, whether you have actually done anything, or can barely be bothered to show up on time.

look into some training, as suggested above, and once you are here, talk to people who have done the job for a few years, and enjoy it - not the ones who feel that they have nowhere else to go.

there’s quite a few good threads on here about teaching as well.

good luck :sunglasses:

If what you said in paragraph one is true, then you have little to worry about. If you asked me, I’d tell you not to waste any money getting a certification. Unless you know of a school that will compensate you appropriately for getting one.

Honestly, certification is very much optional.

The important thing is to gain experience and a bit of training. If you are commited to your work you won’t be a hack.

Finding a school that will really train you rather than just give you a couple seminars and toss you your coursebooks is a real challenge. Also, finding a school that will actually let you use any sort of training you have received can be difficult. Many larger chain schools require you to follow a set program without deviation-- even if you have a better understanding of what the students need.

If you only intend to do the TEFL thing for a short time then there’s no real need to do a CELTA or TESOL cert. Just apply to work at chain schools and they should give you basic training and support.

I’d recommend getting a good book about how to teach English and also one about grammar.

Two books that I’ve found very useful are ‘Learning Teaching’ by Jim Scrivener, and ‘Teaching Tenses’ by Rosemary Aitken. Both have lots of ideas so you won’t get stuck in the classroom.

You can get a book on grammar to brush up on the fine points that students here love.

Don’t do the TESOL course, it’s a waste of time and money. Before you arrive in Taiwan, try to meet some people on this website or other sites and ask if you can shadow their classes a few times. Depending on what city you decide on living in, I’m sure you’ll find teachers who are more than willing to help out.
When i lived in Hsinchu, newbies shadowed me all the time. Someone helped me when i first started, I’m just passing on the favour.

Carlos

[quote=“puiwaihin”]Honestly, certification is very much optional.

The important thing is to gain experience and a bit of training. If you are commited to your work you won’t be a hack.

Finding a school that will really train you rather than just give you a couple seminars and toss you your coursebooks is a real challenge. Also, finding a school that will actually let you use any sort of training you have received can be difficult. Many larger chain schools require you to follow a set program without deviation-- even if you have a better understanding of what the students need.[/quote]

This is all very true; I would go even further and say that big chains are not the only schools that require you to follow a set program.

Remember, Taiwan is not a land where individual thought is encouraged, quite the opposite. In this society the pegs are the same shape as the holes, even left-handedness is seen as an afront to conformity. Individuality is beaten out of children, sometimes literally, starting from a very early age, so they are souless zombies by the time they reach puberty.

In that spirit of conformity, many schools in Taiwan have a system and require everyone to follow it. Those that don’t, like my first school, simply toss your books at you and leave you to it. They’re too busy collecting money to care about you or the students. Either way you’ve no worries about passing yourself off as something you’re not. As far as they’re concerned you’re just a money-making tool.

This is not to say teaching here is not rewarding, like everything else in Taiwan, and life in general, it’s what you make it. For me, the kids make it all worthwhile, and I’m always looking at how I can be a better teacher – for them.