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I need some expert advice

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Joined: 21 Nov 2007
Posts: 16777215

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:01 am    Post subject: I need some expert advice Reply with quote

I am planning to go to Taiwan in February, and I would like to gain the experience of teaching English. But I have a few questions and worries I would like to express in the hope that someone might have some advice...

I know that in Taiwan only a BA degree is needed to teach; I do have this but my discipline is Fine Art, is this a problem? Also, do you know where I can get a list of recognized universities in Taiwan.

I have never taught before, and to be honest, I wouldn't know where to start if I was shoved straight into a classroom. From the research I have done, a lot of schools have a set curriculum, so I am not too worried about materials, but I don't have the funds for a TEFL course. Should I just bite the bullet and go ahead first, and can you tell me if this has happened to you?

I am dyslexic... is this a problem? My mains struggles are my memory and some reading and spelling.

Although I am English, I don't know 100% of the grammar, off the top of my head. Do I need to?

Basically, I am scared of making a fool of myself... If someone asks me a question that I don't know, or if I go through my lesson plan too quickly, and if my plan is just a pile of S**t....

Can someone ease my worries?
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Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 153
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't worry too much. You're not likely to make a fool of yourself, but you do need to maintain a bit of confidence. After all, you certainly know more English than your students are likely to know. Your degree being in fine arts is really not a problem as much of teaching ESL is creativity. You really need to be able to find a way to make your students understand new concepts. Many times this is more about acting and performing than it is some extreme academic exercise.

Most people who teach ESL don't have an academic background that prepares them to teach. An English degree is no more useful than a degree in philosophy, and short of obtaining a second degree in linguistics you're not likely to learn anything specific to ESL.

What you do need is to be ready and willing to find answers to grammar you can't explain. When a student asks you a question, you shouldn't expect to know every answer. But, you should plan to seek out that answer. There are a few books that can help you give yourself a stronger basis than any of the TEFL courses can provide. They are:

A Course in Phonetics by Peter Ladefoged

Historical Linguistics by R.L. Trask

A History of the English Language by Albert Baugh

And finally, a short primer like the Teach Yourself series about Thai or whatever the language will be where you're going. Understanding the basics of the source language of your students is an invaluable tool in helping them understand the target language (in this case English). This helps you understand and find solutions to the errors they tend to develop, and it puts you as the teacher in a sympathetic position with your students as you will be both their teacher, and a student of their language as well.

If you are truly a newbie at teaching, you may want to consider taking your first job with one of the chain ESL franchises such as Inlingua, Berlitz, or one of these as they have their own methodology and it's fairly difficult to mess up. These are good starting places.

Finally, from what I've heard steer clear of the EF or English First franchises in Asia.

Good Luck
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Joined: 04 Jun 2004
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:42 pm    Post subject: TEFL Reply with quote

Hello Neilous

You really do need some teaching practice before you start teaching, otherwise you will be lost in the classroom. You also need to know your subject but as you are a native speaker, then you should have no problems there.

The reason for saying things in a certain way is "a matter of grammar" and that is the explanation you should give. You do not have to justify everything you say by explaining all the grammar. Some students will prey on you until you become ill. Don't let it happen. Stick to your lesson plan and don't be sidetracked, unless you want to be. You are in charge! It is your classroom!

If I were you, I would borrow the money for a TEFL course because I think you need it..

However, I agree with Lexicon that Berlitz Schools would be a good place to start, as you do not need a TEFL Certificate because their method of teaching is different. This will give you teaching practice and also build up your confidence.

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Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah don't worry too much, lex's advice is spot on!
"The world is a book & those who do not travel read only one page"
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to disagree with those on this thread who feel there is no need for training.

Of course, one can improvise and become an English teacher simply on the grounds of being a native English speaker. But how would you like it if the person standing in front of you in a class is teaching you by trial and error, improvising their lesson as they go along and basically learning on the job at your expense. Surely you would prefer someone who has taken the time and the effort to prepare himself for the job ahead, learning which are the most effective teaching techniques, how to maximize classroom time, how to make his lessons useful yet fun, etc. Of course, we all learn more from doing something than reading about it but having a solid understanding of what you are about to do can only be a good thing!

Think about it! Being certified will make you more marketable but more importantly it will prepare you for the job. And you certainly don’t need to break the bank to get trained. Have you considered training online? Online courses offer a great training opportunity at entry level. They can provide a thorough grounding in a new career and the right tools to approach a new profession within a manageable amount of time and finances.
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Joined: 27 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Training is important, but I don't think a TEFL course or other four-week certification is a necessary hardship, depending on how able you are to compensate with your own research and resourcefulness. Employers might like certification because it eliminates some of the risk involved in training a green teacher, but it takes years to become a teacher. Your employer will give you some training, but your experience, contacts, and references will be what make you marketable in the future. Some employers will insist on only hiring TEFL certified teachers, but you can wait to be certified when you are in a better position to pay for the course - only if you really need it.

I taught ESL for eight years in Japan, and at no point would a TEFL cert. have gotten me better jobs or more money. I went back to school to study elementary education, and a TEFL is perfectly useless for finding jobs in America, too.

For now, think about getting ready for your first job and getting to know your role. Try watching videos of other ESL teachers on the internet. Also, watch lessons for very young children and see how the teacher breaks down the information... watch the lessons for main points.
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Lee Hobbs
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Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 137
Location: TheGulfCoast

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:43 pm    Post subject: Weighing the Advantages Reply with quote

giantpeanut wrote:
at no point would a TEFL cert. have gotten me better jobs or more money. I went back to school to study elementary education, and a TEFL is perfectly useless for finding jobs in America, too.

Great advice giantpeanut. We need more discussion on the forum along these lines. TEFL certs. do get some new teachers "in the door." But, other than that, do these often easily obtained pieces of paper really serve any other career purpose for the teacher?

Happy New Year all,


Lee's blog is still available, however, here:
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:08 am    Post subject: TEFL certification? Reply with quote

I agree generally with the posts in this thread. However, I have some additional thoughts. These come from the perspective of someone who already had a teaching certificate and years of high school classroom experience when they took the further TEFL certification.

In my experience teaching English as a foreign language, at home and abroad, I often meet native-speaking TEFL-certified "colleagues" who cannot spell, pronounce, punctuate, capitalize or even write on a chalkboard legibly, much less organize a lesson on any topic. Many "schools" abroad use their in-house software and print materials to support these inexperienced and unqualified staff (I won't call them by the t-word) because these things are cheaper than the salaries expected by those with REAL qualifications and experience. What is the net result?

Students often receive misleading, inappropriate and sometimes simply incorrect information from people they trust to be experts in the field of English communication. The dilution of acceptable professional standards leads to a dilution of acceptable academic standards, and eventually to incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo passed off as "correct" English.

If you've never been at the front of the class, if you've never studied (much less taught) English language...getting a TEFL certificate cannot hurt you, and will probably help you. Not getting one hurts everyone involved in English language instruction--students, as well as REAL teachers--by undermining the implicit value of learning another language.

To twist the cliche, if you can't bear the cost of a TEFL certificate program, stay out of the ESL kitchen (I don't want food poisoning).
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