Look at this widely-quoted article:
[quote]Let’s take the pay and conditions first, and let’s take Rome, where I have lived for the past eight years. Typically, an English teacher working flat-out for a variety of employers and private pupils might earn €1,500 (£1,000) a month pre-tax for 10 months a year: £10,000 annually, therefore.
Permanent positions are scarce, and there is no work in the summer; although if you are willing to sell yourself into servitude, there are plenty of 10-month contracts from September to June that leave you washed up and penniless at the start of the long hot holidays, and with little option other than to sign up as a teacher at some miserable summer-school in Kent, where once again you will be ruthlessly exploited.
All over Europe - in Paris, Madrid, Prague and Athens - it is the same. In London the constant flow of foreign students provides work throughout the year - but who can survive on the £12,000-odd a year that TEFL teachers earn there? Indeed, since British graduates now leave university with debts that rule out dead-end jobs with microscopic salaries, English schools everywhere are finding it harder to attract staff.
Increasingly, they take on the dregs. If the work were in any way rewarding, the pay might be tolerable. But unlike a job in a proper school, there is no pastoral side involved in being a TEFL teacher, and no variety, no career structure, no sense of progression. You spend your day rushing from one lesson to another, endlessly drumming in the essentials and explaining the difference between, say, “I grovel” and “I am grovelling”.[/quote]
These sorts of conditions are totally foreign to most of the people I know who work in ESL in Taiwan, who enjoy NT$100,000 a month (in many cases closer to NT$200,000 a month) incomes for work that is at least somewhat psychically rewarding. Pretty much everyone I know who works in ESL here makes this solid income while pursuing side projects in publishing, multimedia learning, musical, artistic, or entrepreneurial areas. These projects are often sources of additional income. The only people I know who struggle to make it in ESL lack the ambition and the drive to get themselves into a better position.
The lack of a pension program doesn’t mean much to me–I’ve never worked as a business exec for a company that had anything more than a 401k program.
Can anyone find an original link to Alain to Botton’s statement that “You become a TEFL teacher when your life has gone wrong”? Surely he was referring to conditions in Europe, and has little idea about what is possible in Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.