This post has been removed. Read the rest in Keeping Sane: English Teaching Strategies for ESL Teachers.
36 Random ESL Game Piece Images - 6.4 MB
Alright, I won’t ask anymore stupid questions – I’m not your boss. What I am is a former-ESL teacher that still has some good ideas that can help you new folks starting out.
This post has been removed. Read the rest in Keeping Sane: English Teaching Strategies for ESL Teachers.
36 Random ESL Game Piece Images - 6.4 MB
I’ve no doubt that you’re an ESL teacher just trying to keep your sanity this summer.
But you know what? I should have doubt, for there are a lot of other people that stumble in here from time to time.
Case in point is an email I got today from Stephanie, someone who teaches her own children at home. She told me her daughter found this site and that she enjoyed the ESL Links page.
I created that page several years ago now when I was still a teacher in Shenzhen. We had it in our office computer files but no one ever looked at it. Well, now it’s helping a lot of people find fun and interesting ESL games to play, language quizzes to take, and grammar notes to memorize.
Yeah, it’s not all fun, there’s some work there too. But overall you’ll find lots of good links.
And today I’m throwing up a new one called An ESL Resource Guide for Students from a company called Five9. This awesome website landing page has tons of helpful ESL links. Here are some highlights:
If you have one-one-one students I know you’ll like some of the simple quizzes offered;
If you’ve got naughty students the grammar worksheets will quiet them down;
If you’re working on speaking and pronunciation the listening pages will treat you fine.
So all of those things are there for you to use, print out for class, or just look through for ideas. Best of all, it’s free! So good luck, and remember, summer is nearly halfway over.
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If you’re teaching ESL then I’m going to be you’ve had a few higher-level students come up to you and ask if you know any good practice tests online.
See, kids are always trying to get to America. I’m not sure going there will answer all their problems, but it sure will give them a spiffy resume some day.
And to help them along they need to learn English, which is where you come in.
Now, if you were anything like me, you probably didn’t like being pestered by students when you were just racing to get to the next class.
Nonetheless, your altruistic nature probably took over a time or two and you found yourself offering help, no matter how much you may have regretted it later.
Well, I’ve got good news today – you can let them help themselves.
That’s right! Unless you’re getting a pretty penny an hour for tutoring, I’d let them take a few online practice tests to improve their English. And if you have students studying for the ACT or SAT or even the GRE…well, you’re in luck!
Today I found out about a site called Varsity Tutoring.
Here you can find lots of English practice tests. Some are pretty darn difficult, but if your students are serious about taking these tests for real then they’ll need to know this stuff.
So why not check it out, pull it up in class, or mention it the next time you have a parent/teacher meeting? Chances are good quite a few students will write down the URL address and check it out at home.
And maybe then you can finally get out of class in a timely fashion, eh?
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This is kind of a funny thing to read on an ESL site, huh? Well, don’t worry too much – next week I’ll put up a post on 10 Reasons You Should be an ESL Teacher.
Let’s face it; teaching ESL is a demanding job, but also one that can be quite rewarding. But does the good outweigh the bad? If you’re thinking that teaching ESL will help you or give you answers to any of these things, perhaps you should think of another line of work. Let’s take a look!
1 – You Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life
Lots of people get out of university and they have no idea what they’re doing. Many think that by going to a foreign country they’ll figure this out. I never understood how standing in a room of screaming children or apathetic teens could do this, but hey, to each their own.
2 – You Don’t Want to Pay Your Student Loans
No one likes the prospect of paying their student loans back, and this is something that hits Americans particularly hard. Unfortunately the American government doesn’t pay for higher education, and that’s why you’ll often work with other ESL teachers struggling with money. Chances are they’re Americans trying to pay a little on their loans while they’re in deferment.
Let me tell you about my experiences with this. I deferred my student loans for 2 years while teaching English in China. During that time I paid about $100 a month, barely enough to cover the interest, and most of the time not even enough to do that. Now I’m playing catch-up and if you’re American I’d advise you not to make this mistake.
3 – You Want to be a Teacher
When you teach ESL you’re not a real teacher. I taught ESL for 5 years but I wouldn’t be able to get a job in the States because I don’t have the teaching certification credentials.
Teaching ESL also isn’t really teaching English. A lot of the times you’re playing games and because many of the student’s are at a mixed-ability level, you’ll often spend a lot of time on behavioral and catch-up issues.
If you want to be a real teacher go back to school and get the papers. Don’t waste a year in a foreign country! Think of 29 years from now when you’re a teacher and you can’t wait to retire. Would that useless year spent overseas be worth something to you then?
4 – You Like Kids
If you like kids I’d advise against teaching English as a foreign language. A lot of these kids scream and run about and generally get on your nerves. I’ve heard ESL teaches say they used to like kids but now hate them. I’ve heard teachers say they’re quitting before they get to the point where they hate their own kids.
I’ve seen this firsthand. New ESL teachers come in and their all jolly, then a couple months later their dragging themselves into work. Kinds in small doses are great, but when you’ve got to go 8 to 10 hours a day with them? Please!
5 – You Want to Make Money
When you first start as an ESL teacher you might think it’s not so bad. After all, lots of new ESL teachers are fresh from college or other low-paying and demeaning jobs. Some of them have even worked for free as interns, the indentured slavery of the 21st century.
So it’s no surprise that many want to make money. With those student loans rearin’ their ugly head this is even more important. But don’t expect to make a lot when you teach ESL. My first year I made 5,000 RMB/month, or about $800 US. The next years I made 6,000 RMB. Woo-hoo!
When I started working at training centers my salary jumped to 13,000 RMB. That seemed like a lot at the time, but most of it got eaten up by rent and other bills. It wasn’t until after I stopped teaching ESL that I started to make twice that in a month and sometimes more. If you don’t care about money, teaching ESL is a great job for you!
6 – You Want to Travel
While it’s true that you’ll be travelling to a different country when you become an ESL teacher, the sad truth is that you probably won’t do doing a whole hell of a lot of travelling after that.
Here’s what I learned being in China. In the public schools you’ll get a longer holiday for Spring Festival and this does give you a chance to travel around a bit. If you work at a training center you’ll probably just have one week, and that’ll be when the rest of the country is travelling to.
I knew a few ESL teachers that travelled around a lot from different countries, staying in a place for a few months and then moving on. So it is possible. (Alright, this is a bad one for the list!)
7 – You Want to Learn About a Different Culture
When you’re out and about on your own you can pick up quite a bit about the country you’re living in. When you’re at work everyone will want to know about the country you’re from. A lot of ESL teachers I knew stayed at work a lot or stayed at home. They didn’t go out much, and there wasn’t much culture when they did; I lived in Shenzhen which was a ‘new’ city and it only had a culture of concrete.
One of the things you’ll pick up on as well is his how other cultures view your culture. In China Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift were bigger than any American politicians. Chances are your students will want to know if you’ve met them personally yet.
8 – You Want to Build Your Resume
“Wow! You taught ESL! Holy shit, you’re hired!”
You’ll never hear that unless you’re applying at McDonald’s. Then you’ll probably have some former-ESL manager hiring you.
Believe me, no one’s going to really care that you taught ESL. It’s a loser job and it won’t get you anywhere.
I know what you’re saying: ‘But I do public speaking, control large groups, come up with new ideas, and problem-solve!’
So what? So does everyone else out there in the job market and they haven’t wasted the past year or more of their lives working for peanuts while in no way crafting for themselves any kind of skills that the rest of the world would find useful.
Chances are you’ll only be polishing that resume for another ESL job: That’s all you’re doing by staying in that position, and chances are if you don’t get out after one year you’ll be stuck there for some time.
9 – You Want to Get a (Your New Country Here) Wife
I saw a lot of people, especially fat older men, come to China to find a wife. They’d often get a job teaching ESL because they could do nothing else.
These people were miserable. Their wives were often the boss and they drank like Prohibition was just around the corner. Chances are you’re not an old, fat, balding white man with bad teeth so you can probably skip this one.
10 – You Can’t Speak English
Yeah, sounds kind of silly, huh? But I’ll tell you, I’ve seen a lot of people who can barely speak English teaching English.
It’s sad, and in China there were a lot of people from poor African countries doing this. The government would often kick them out. A lot of Chinese teachers I’ve worked with over the years have had English skills that are worse than my students. And I’ve seen a whole lot of teachers from all over the place teach incorrect things.
If you can’t speak English you should probably find a job doing something else.
I know this article will anger a lot of ESL teachers, and good! You should be angry, at yourself for wasting your life! Find a better job, you can, you know? You don’t have to be stuck in this worthless position that no one cares about!
And if you think I’m wrong, well, check back in a week for 10 Reasons You Should be an ESL Teacher.
Pick up your copy of English Last: True Accounts of Teaching in China!
This new eBook is currently available on Amazon for your Kindle. It’s priced at $3.99 and comes in at just under 40,000 words.
As anyone who reads this site regularly knows, I spent 5 years living and teaching in China. This book is my attempt to capture what a lot of the teaching was like. I go over all the training centers I’ve worked for, the CTLC program, EF China English First, Kindergartens, and Tutoring.
I focus on what it’s like living in China and what you can expect when you get there. I also talk a lot about how you teach English in China. Teaching English in China isn’t like what you were taught back in university. In fact, teaching ESL English is a whole different ball game. That’s why this book is a great thing for anyone heading over to China in the coming months.
The reason the book is called English Last is because that’s how I felt that English was prioritized by the time I left China. The attitude I saw employers take was really focused on money and not so much on how much the students were learning.
Too many times students are moved up into classes they can’t handle just because their parents threaten to stop paying if they’re not. Too many times I’ve seen students disrupt class so much that other students can’t learn. The reason for this: schools want the money, they don’t care if the student is bad behaviorally or can’t keep up with the lessons.
I hope some of my experiences teaching English in China can help you, and if you have had a similar time in China, you’ll probably like a lot of what this book has to say, and will be able to identify with it easily.
So if you’re in the Middle Kingdom already, are planning to, or just want to read about it, pick up your copy of English Last today!
I’m working on getting a cover made for my new eBook on China. The eBook is really about what it’s like teaching in China from my perspective.
If you scroll down through the posts you’ll see a lot of what’s in the book, but by no means all. I talk about working in training centers, public schools, as a tutor, and in kindergartens.
I tell you things that work and things that don’t. I try to make it so right when you get to China you can have an accurate picture of what teaching’s like, not some fanciful notion.
When I first came to China to teach in 2008 I didn’t know what to expect. The training I received was wholly inadequate to the task, and I struggled for a long time.
When I finally got the courage up to change employers I didn’t know a whole lot about how to go about it. I had to search and search, and it was frustrating and nerve-wracking.
It’s my hope that this book will give you a clearer picture of what it’s like teaching in China. If you’re looking for an eBook on teaching in China, this is the one for you.
Below are a few rough drafts from some covers I’m working on, as well as a rough table of contents. I hope to have the finished book out in another week or two.
Part I – Welcome to Teaching in China!
Part II – How to Teach ESL English
Part III – Extra Aspects of Teaching ESL
Part IV – Life in China
Part V – Teaching in China
Part VI – Teaching with CTLC in Public Schools
Part VII – Teaching with EF in Training Centers
Part VIII – Teaching as a Tutor in China
Part IX – Teaching in Chinese Kindergartens
Special Note: This is the 100th blog post on esladventure.com. I started this site a year ago and it's great to get to this milestone. Thanks for reading!
I didn’t tutor students at all during my first year teaching English in China and I regret it. I could have made a lot more money that first year, a year in which I wasn’t making a high monthly salary. In other words I’m kicking myself for not getting myself in gear.
Tutoring is a great way to make money in China, money that you won’t have to pay taxes on because it’s always delivered in cash. All you really need to do to get started is figure out how you want to market yourself. You can do this through your experience or the materials you have. Next, figure out where the students are and how you can get them. This is easy if you go through people you know or over the internet. And finally, figure out what curriculum you’ll be teaching the students. Be prepared; you don’t want to have an hour of tutoring with nothing to do.
All in all, tutoring in China is easy, doesn’t take much of your time, and will pay you better per hour than most other teaching jobs you can find. I knew people on business, tourist, and student visas that were pulling in 10,000 to 16,000 RMB each month tutoring, all of it in cash, all of it tax-free. And they sure weren’t working 40 hours a week. If they can do it, so can you.
To successfully tutor in China you’ll need to market yourself. Now, this will be pretty easy to get started on; after all, you’re a foreigner right? Most affluent or well-off parents are going to want to find a foreigner to tutor their children English. They’ll take just about anyone, too; I’ve met plenty of people whose first language isn’t English and they do quite well. And while many parents would prefer to have a white foreigner, preferably with blond hair and blue eyes, I’ve also met plenty of non-white foreigners that make a lot of money from tutoring.
There are several ways you can begin marketing yourself so that you can find better tutoring opportunities.
Now that you have some idea of how to market yourself, how can you find students? There are many ways to go about doing this in China, which I saw firsthand and took part in when I was living in Shenzhen.
Developing a Curriculum
Now that you’ve successfully marketed yourself as a competent English tutor, and found some students to teach, what do you actually teach them?
If you already had materials when you were marketing yourself, you’ll be fine. If you’re brand new to tutoring, however, it might be a bit more difficult. Here are a few things to think about:
From 2008 to 2013 I was an ESL teacher in Shenzhen, China. I've worked in public schools, training centers, and one-on-one as a tutor.