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THE PROFESSION AND QUALIFICATIONS
Q.
I have just graduated from Nottingham university, UK, and I am interested in doing a part time CELTA course next year but I am slightly confused as to what the difference between TEFL and CELTA is. I know what they stand for, is the main difference that CELTA is just teaching adults and a Cambridge designed course?

A.
The difference is that TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is the profession and CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults) is one of many TEFL qualifications, not a course.


IT AND ELT
Q.
I have a degree in French and Italian and 12 years experience in IT as a technical writer and software tester. Will my IT skills make me more sought after in a TEFL environment? What would be the best way to market these skills, combined with a TEFL qualification?

A.
IT skills are generally considered an asset as Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) is augmented and enhanced by expanding access to the Internet. You should probably familiarise yourself with current CALL material and perhaps apply for online teaching posts.


RETIRED AND READY TO TEACH
Q.
I am a vigorous and healthy and energetic female, 65 years of age. I am just retiring from the nursing field, where I have done much work with adolescents and children with psychiatric disorders. My degree is an Associate Degree in Nursing. I have excellent communication and teaching skills as patient care calls for this, especially with children and adolescents. 1. Is age a barrier to traveling and teaching English? 2. Are my former professional qualifications as a Registered Nurse who has taken State Boards and is Licensed in the USA, sufficient to permit a TEFL certification course.

A.
Some employers prefer the younger teacher, for a variety of reasons. However, the benefits that the mature teacher can bring to the learning situation are being appreciated increasingly. Your previous qualifications and experience very much lend themselves to the teaching of young learners.


WHICH COURSE?
Q.
How can I decide which is the right Masters course for me? There are so many on the market and there is no 'star' system for course providers.

A.
Start with the most important factor in the whole process - you! Things you might consider are: your particular areas of interest; employment opportunities for those areas; do you have time and/or financial constraints?; do you prefer face to face or distance tuition? Probe beyond the course prospectus. Visit the campus. Speak with the course director. Check on reading lists, staff specialisations, course delivery, deadlines and methodology and, if possible, speak to others who have done the course.


OVER QUALIFIED?
Q.
I have a Masters degree in linguistics and over 20 years teaching experience both at secondary and tertiary levels. Yet all my recent job applications to language schools in Europe and Japan have been turned down. They say they are only looking for a first degree and no experience is necessary. Is this the trend now and, if so, am I over qualified?

A.
There are certainly still posts around which demand your qualifications and experience. However, as in every profession, there are also opportunities for new entrants which offer concomitant remuneration.


FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Q.
I would really like to do a TEFL course but I would require financial assistance. Can you put me in touch with likely sources?

A.
Very few training organisations offer assisted places. Teaching charities may be willing to train you, free of charge, if you otherwise match their recruitment requirements.


CONTINUING DEVELOPMENT
Q.
I have just finished a TEFL course and am about to start my first job. The course was a real blast and I'm afraid of becoming stale when left to my own devices. What can I do to ensure that I continue to develop professionally?

A.
Your first teaching job is probably one of the most challenging you'll ever have. There is a big difference between teaching 6 to 8 hours teaching practice on a pre-entry course and planning for and delivering 20 to 25 hours per week. Therefore, it would be difficult for any new teacher not to be on a steep learning curve. There are, of course, other things you can do, e.g. sharing and participating in all formal and informal teacher development opportunities in your new job; joining a professional association; joining some of the ELT e.groups; scouring the Net for helpful ELT sites etc.


What sort of people will I be teaching?
Q.
I've just finished an introductory course and am rather terrified of the prospect of teaching for the first time. What sort of people will I be teaching? Will they be professionals, students, housewives?

A.
This really is a question for your prospective employer who should be able to provide you with a typical student profile or profiles. However, I'm sure your training will have stressed the importance of ascertaining the needs (individual and group) of your learners, whoever they may be, and to deliver to those needs as far as possible. If you can do that, your students should appreciate and value your teaching whatever their age, nationality, culture or (relative) status.


TEFL fall back position
Q.
I'm doing a PhD in Biochemistry at a UK university and I intend to leave the UK with my French girlfriend when we finish our studies. I would like to know whether it would be possible/appropriate to do a TEFL course as a 'fall back' option, so that if one or neither of us is able to obtain a postdoctoral position there would still be the option of teaching english. Also, would it be possible to combine the TEFL qualification with a life sciences PhD?

A.
I am sure it would be possible to do a TEFL course as there are many on offer both in the UK and elsewhere. Whether it is appropriate rather depends on whether or not you have an interest in teaching English as a foreign/second/other language other than just the need for alternative employment. In fairness to your prospective students, employer/s and yourself, it is a good idea to research this parallel career path before making a decision.


Teaching & retirement
Q.
I would very much appreciate your advice.I am 47 years old and shortly retiring early from the civil service. I do not have a degree but I am considering enrolling on a one month CELTA course. I live in Devon (Totnes), UK and eventually would like to divide my time between here and Spain. What are the realistic prospects of employment both locally and in Spain in these circumstances?

A.
Before investing in any career change it can be worthwhile finding out about and experiencing as much of the prospective profession as possible. You are probably better placed than most to find out about the local TEFL market and, in doing so, you may be able to speak to existing teachers and perhaps even observe a class or two. With regard to Spain. It is possible for newly qualified teachers to obtain a teaching position, depending on the place and the market. However, they have set academic years and term times which would probably require you to spend from at least October to June, in Spain.


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Search the Career Knowledge Base for keywords:

Not find what your looking for? Submit a career-related question

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