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04 December 2008
Teaching English Abroad, Part Two
If you are thinking about teaching English abroad, then the first thing that you need to know is that this particular sea is full of sharks, so don't just pack a bag and head off somewhere. Get the contract before you leave the UK and make sure that it is with a reputable outfit.

The two biggest are the British Council and International House. Both of them offer contracts that include your flight to and from the country where you will work and a pretty decent salary package. If hired by either of them then you will only remain in a country for a maximum of three years before they relocate you elsewhere.

If for whatever reason you decide that you quite like the country then you go on what is called a local contract. Trust me, you won't like those contracts. Unlike the one that you have had for three years, this one will just pay you an hourly rate - and the hourly rate is going to be very low indeed. Expect about a tenner an hour if you are lucky. You won't get any benefits, not even sickness or holiday pay. When you work you get paid, but when you don't then you get nothing. That's how local contracts work, and now you know why most people agree to move around every 36 months.

I am afraid to say that most English schools operate along those lines, pretty much all the time in the third world. Unlike the British Council and International House, they are run by dodgy businessmen who want to make as much money as they can, and as quickly as they can. Their profit margin is increased by a seemingly endless supply of young, idiotic graduates who want to live in a particular country for a year of so. Hardly any of them have either a teaching qualification or work permit and they are quite happy to live four or five to a room and earn a couple of quid an hour.

Given that this is not your aim - because I like to think that my readers are not complete idiots - then if you want to teach English abroad, get yourself a recognised qualification and arrange your contract with a legitimate body before you leave the UK.

And if you end up in Mexico, drop me a line and let's go and have a pint.

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2 Comments:

Yes, but both IH and the BC are keen on taking on and duping the more able of the Tefl-qualified candidates, too. They just leave all the under-qualified and under-aged rabble to the local sharks, and enjoy their role as imperialist exploiters of the more discerning of the Tefl teachers.

The only way to make a decent living from teaching EFL abroad is (a) choose your country wisely, and (b) seek a position with a proper college or university (either state or private), of course assuming that (c) you have more than back-packer's qualification in teaching.

I have no grouch with tourist teachers per se, as I was one of them once. But, in the same way that you grow out of reading the Beano and graduate to the Guardian (or not!), it's not wise to hang around the playground too long - especially with all them sharks circling the premises!

4 December 2008 at 15:08  

The people that I knew in Mexico who were IH and/or BC were paid very well indeed. Yet you seem to be saying that the only way to make brass is to work for a local university - am I reading you correctly?

The problem with universities is that they do not recruit on the basis of ability. Like everything else in the turd world, they recruit via nepotism and cronyism.

The BC and IH are different because they are British run, yes?

4 December 2008 at 15:49  

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