17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby channamasala » Tue Sep 02, 2014 09:57

It takes a certain personality to make TEFL a career too, come to think of it. A lot, if not the majority, of the English "teachers" I know either don't like it that much, aren't really that suited to it, or definitely don't want to make it a career. It's the rare gem who does it, is good at it, gets better at it, knows a lot about it, and wants to be doing it.

I suspect a number of the "oh what I'd really like to do is edit" wishmongering is from folks who are smart but don't have a lot of quantifiable skills, and aren't suited to teaching (and they know it).

The times I've done that work (i occasionally pick up seminar booklet writing, editing and Chinese-English translation work and I edit all of the medical journal submissions for one of my students - yes she pays me) I've enjoyed it because it's something "different" from the usual teaching. But I'm not sure I have the personality to do it full-time either. It's not that I don't enjoy it when I do it, but I hated sitting in front of the computer for long stretches at my office job, so I'd likely hate it if I did something similar full-time. I have a personality that belongs in charge of a crowd, not in front of a screen, so I kind of get what BV is saying.
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby Big Vern » Tue Sep 02, 2014 13:06

channamasala wrote:
I suspect a number of the "oh what I'd really like to do is edit" wishmongering is from folks who are smart but don't have a lot of quantifiable skills, and aren't suited to teaching (and they know it).



Indeed. Also, it's often a sign of burn out.

It would send me mad sitting at home editing all day. Teaching is waaaay more satisfying.
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby Big Vern » Tue Sep 02, 2014 13:14

John Ross wrote:Big Vern, can I get in on the bet? Those are fat odds you're offering and CM is most definitely right. As for writing being "incredibly dull work," I'm too shocked to respond. :eek:


It depends what you're writing, doesn't it? Surely writing to order is very different to writing what you want for pleasure (that may, if you're very lucky, make some money). That may just be me, though. Others might find it interesting writing technical manuals and stuff.

Steelersman on the flob managed to forge a career out of writing online.
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby John Ross » Tue Sep 02, 2014 15:39

Big Vern wrote:
John Ross wrote:Big Vern, can I get in on the bet? Those are fat odds you're offering and CM is most definitely right. As for writing being "incredibly dull work," I'm too shocked to respond. :eek:


It depends what you're writing, doesn't it?

Well, obviously so, but, you made a general unqualified statement and thereby implying that the work is for the most part incredibly boring. Quite a strong statement for someone who has worked in a call center. :eek:
But yeah, I'm with you on the technical writing side of things - I rather teach than write tech manuals.

Steelersman on the flob managed to forge a career out of writing online.
A "career"? Well done if he managed that. Last I read he was still at the "supplemental income" stage doing SEO work and selling the occasional online piece. He was hoping he could make the jump to it being his main source of income, but I never heard how it worked out.
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby Big Vern » Tue Sep 02, 2014 15:59

John Ross wrote:
Big Vern wrote:
John Ross wrote:Big Vern, can I get in on the bet? Those are fat odds you're offering and CM is most definitely right. As for writing being "incredibly dull work," I'm too shocked to respond. :eek:


It depends what you're writing, doesn't it?

Well, obviously so, but, you made a general unqualified statement and thereby implying that the work is for the most part incredibly boring. Quite a strong statement for someone who has worked in a call center. :eek:
But yeah, I'm with you on the technical writing side of things - I rather teach than write tech manuals.


Come now, my man. My post could be regarded as a general unqualified statement only if the context of the thread is ignored. A TEFL teacher is presumably going to move into editing or writing in the TEFL field. Is it interesting writing TEFL books? I've never tried but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be my cup of tea. Talking of drinks, on a day like this a gin and tonic is more the required slurp.
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby John Ross » Tue Sep 02, 2014 16:39

Big Vern wrote:
John Ross wrote:
Big Vern wrote:
John Ross wrote:Big Vern, can I get in on the bet? Those are fat odds you're offering and CM is most definitely right. As for writing being "incredibly dull work," I'm too shocked to respond. :eek:


It depends what you're writing, doesn't it?

Well, obviously so, but, you made a general unqualified statement and thereby implying that the work is for the most part incredibly boring. Quite a strong statement for someone who has worked in a call center. :eek:
But yeah, I'm with you on the technical writing side of things - I rather teach than write tech manuals.


Come now, my man. My post could be regarded as a general unqualified statement only if the context of the thread is ignored. A TEFL teacher is presumably going to move into editing or writing in the TEFL field. Is it interesting writing TEFL books? I've never tried but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be my cup of tea. Talking of drinks, on a day like this a gin and tonic is more the required slurp.


Fair enough. I've called off the union heavies from the Taiwan Writers Guild.
Writing TEFL books is a mixed bag, anything from dull (but almost never super dull) to quite interesting (for higher levels the writing can require extensive reading about a wide range of topics). I wouldn't want to do it full-time, but it's nice as a sideline to teaching. One discouragement for many teachers looking to leave the classroom is that writing TEFL materials generally pays worse than teaching does.
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby Big Vern » Tue Sep 02, 2014 17:12

John Ross wrote: One discouragement for many teachers looking to leave the classroom is that writing TEFL materials generally pays worse than teaching does.


From what I've been offered writing exams seems to be the easiest and most lucrative. Unless one hits paydirt and writes something like Headway. :lick: House in the Bahamas :lick: .
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby xiaoma » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:41

It really depends on what you want to do. A couple of my friends in China, John Pasden and David Lancashire, basically transitioned into careers teaching foreigners Chinese online. Others from the Chinese blogging community of the mid 2000s such as John Biesnecker, Sean "The EFL Geek", Holly Harrington and myself have moved into tech careers. I don't want to name any names of those who haven't been sharing their stories on the internet already, but I'd say I've seen three pretty common "good exits" from TEFL—technology careers, marketing careers and entrepreneurial careers.

What do you enjoy? What are you good at? What does the world want? Do you see any overlap between those three? If not, is there something marketable that you might enjoy? If you really take a stab at it, you may find you can get good enough at it.

Best of luck to you!
learning Chinese, teaching English, trying to understand more: http://toshuo.com
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby belgian pie » Sat Sep 20, 2014 17:24

A 4 month butler course in Belgium or The Netherlands ... costly yes, but guaranteed work when graduated. Yearly salaries upto 150,000 US$.
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Re: 17 years abroad as a Tefl teacher – what do I do now?

Postby channamasala » Sat Sep 20, 2014 19:30

I wouldn't want to write materials (or really write anything) full-time either, though as a side thing that work is nice. I got into teaching to get away from spending the day in front of a screen or at a desk! Why would I want to go back to either?

That's the main thing that would ever get me if I decide to get out of TEFL (which I don't intend to, unless it's teaching in another capacity - I'll probably always be in a classroom or class environment of some sort). I did the corporate thing before I came here and hated it: not the company, not even the work per se (although it was stultifying), nor the industry, but the mere act of going to the same damn place and sitting in front of the same damn computer smelling the same damn farts from the same damn coworkers every damn day. Chair, coffee machine, screen, screen, bullshit motivational staff meeting about 'dreaming your dreams to synergy' or something, snarky wanking motion under the table, screen, screen, more coffee, screen, nap at lunch, screen, coffee, screen, screen, moment of quiet desperation, screen, home.

And hating it that much means there's not a lot else out there for me. So it's a good thing I both like and am good at teaching!

The only issue is that after I finish the Delta, the next rung up is getting a Master's, and I was born in the wrong place for that. Americans trying to afford tertiary and graduate education would be a funny joke if I wasn't one of them, and there's no good, world-recognized AppLing program in Taiwan.
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