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How is teaching ESL viewed by Graduate employers back home?

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Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:58 am    Post subject: How is teaching ESL viewed by Graduate employers back home? Reply with quote


I have lived in Shanghai for the past 6 months and taught ESL to Grade 1 children for the duration on this time.

I graduated from a good University in the UK with a 2.1 degree in 2004.

After University I decided that iIwould like to travel and see the world, so I saved up for a year and then spent the next year backpacking in India, SE Asia and Australia.

Having got to the end of my travels, I decided that I would like to continue living abroad for a while and chose Shanghai, China, and would teach English.

As much as I enjoy teaching, it is becoming painfully aware to me that apart from ESL teaching and some experience in not-too-impressive jobs; slogging away saving at home during and after Uni, I don't have much other experience.

Right, here's the question!

Now, I want to go back to the UK after the summer and apply for Graduate postions in companies. However, I would be really interested to know if anyone has experience in this, and if they know how recruiters view ESL teaching back in the UK or anywhere else in the West. I mean, should I try to find an alternative to teaching for a while, or continue? Does teaching business English to adults, maybe look more impressive. Really, I dont have much of an idea of what I should be looking for!

Any experience or advice would be much appreciated!

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Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 153
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you need to look at what skills you do have. And you have one thing going for you that most of your contemporaries back in the UK won't have:

You HAVE lived abroad. This is different from the tons of people who do a bit of backpacking during their 'travel year'. When you live somewhere, work there, shop there, you have to really learn about the culture.

Even the worst ESL teacher who could just care less about enriching his cultural awareness picks up some knowledge and understanding of the way things work just by the fact that they have to deal with them on a daily basis.

Most people come off their first ESL job abroad not feeling like they know so much more about their world, but realizing that they now know that they DONT know so much about the world. That's a valuable awareness in the business world.

I don't know what your background has been prior to ESL, or what you want to do for a living in general. But I can offer this one bit of advice:

You are living in China, by the time you leave you will have been there for about a year. LEARN CHINESE!!!! Even if you can only get to a rudimentary level before you leave, you will have a job skill that almost no one has back home!

Learning a language is most efficient when you can immerse yourself in it. And, you will never have a better opportunity for that than now. So, have some discipline, take some of Tsingtou (or whatever you favorite chinese beer) or Jinro money, and pay for some regular Chinese lessons.

It may take up your free time, it may be expensive, and it may be a pain in the ass. But, it seems like it would be by far your best option at present -- regardless of your future career paths.

Plus, if you go back home not speaking at least a little, you'll spend the next ten years trying to explain how you managed to live there for a year and not learn any chinese! Shocked

Give it some thought,

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Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot Drew for taking the time to reply.

I agree with the living-abroad factor. I feel that that is a definite advantage over other people, especially as I keep being told by friends that China and Shanghai are apparently never out of the news back home.

With regards to learning Chinese, I take lessons twice a week. Although my Chinese is getting better, and I can get by (just), it's still pretty poor overall. Another option I was considering, is working ESL part-time and studying at one of the local universities until June.

I suppose at the end of the day, as with any previous job, when the time comes to having an interview, I will just have to 'dress up' what I did, the responsibilities, the skills that I have attained; the cultural understanding, the language etc etc.

I mean, looking over my CV now, some of the rubbish I wrote about previous mundane bar jobs-cash handling skills, increased communication skills; what tripe, so I'm sure that I can put a far better positive spin on ESL teaching in China!

Thanks again Drew

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Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 153
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you'll make the right decision. I was well into my late 20's when I truely even decided what field I was interested in, and even then it took some time for me to figure out my place in that industry.

I will say this, if you can afford to not work as much and just plow all your efforts into learning Chinese and becoming at least basically functional in the culture, it will be worth your time...definitely.

I see tons of cv's and resumes, and I must say that honestly I almost always shudder when I get an email from a young British person -- not for the fact that they're British or anything, but because I almost always know what's coming in the cover letter / CV:

Dear Sir...I love culture, I love travel, I want to experience the great culture...blah blah blah....I worked at 3 pubs then travelled and here I am.

As an employer, I just don't care. Maybe if I were hiring a bartender for international travellers it would matter... This is obviously something that is taught somewhere along the way in schools.

Everyone else can challenge this if they disagree, but here is what I can say about cover letters and CV's:

Perspective employers want to know who you are, what you have done, and how your skills will help you do their job. When it comes to experience, you're showing them that you have done things that have equipped you to do the things you will need to be good at for them. Finally, if you don't have the exact knowledge to do their job, you have to make it very obvious that you have the willingness and ability to develop the skills and knowledge to do their job.

Forget all the cultural awareness crap. Make sure you don't come off as a little excrement, but limit the I love people, I feed baby penguins junk to only the extent that it relates to the job.

A lot of it's about wording, you have 15 seconds on paper to wow an employer. Then, if they decide to meet you, the mind of the interviewer is generally made up within the first 2 minutes. The remaining time is that person trying to justify their impression of you as the right or wrong person for the job.

Regardless of what skills you have, regardless of what industry you want to work in, you need something that sets you apart -- your Wow factor.

The china/chinese aspect is a definite possible wow factor for you. Do what it takes to develop that skill so that it's an asset, not just something on your resume.

Think about it, even if you go back to the UK and apply for a job taking orders at McD's, the manager would rather have somebody that could ask "fries with that" in English and Chinese than just chinese...

Just curious, have you looked into the integration/foreigner offices? That might be a set of jobs to apply for back home.

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