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Teaching English as a second language can be your passport to a new life working around the world. ROSALIND SCUTT tells you how to qualify.

No job, no skills, no roots, no spouse? Still wandering around the planet, not ready to return home but with no clear idea of where to go next, or how to afford the airfare? These are fantastically liberating circumstances to find yourself in, so don’t overlook one of your biggest assets: your native tongue.

Speaker of English, your native language is your passport to a professional and well-paid teaching career working in some of the most exotic locations. You don’t even need to know the language of the country you’re travelling to, and often you don’t need teaching qualifications. But just because you’re a native speaker, doesn’t mean you’ll be an effective English teacher. Before you devote a year of your life to teaching, you should know what it involves.

Qualifications: Usually you will need to hold a university degree. Formal certifications in teaching are not always necessary, but if you are formally certified it is easier to get a visa and find a job - especially a higher paying one. There are a huge variety of teaching certificates to choose from with most certificates taking between four to six weeks of full-time study.

The Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) is the most widely recognised and is considered the minimum qualification needed. The course is monitored by Cambridge in the UK.

In New Zealand, there are many providers and course fees may vary but at AIS St Helens in Auckland it currently costs $2,900. No previous teaching experience or training is required for admission to CELTA, but you must have a degree or tertiary entry level qualifications. For more information visit www.ais.ac.nz.

The job: A full-time job in a language school generally involves a five-day working week of eight-hour days. During a work week a teacher should expect up to 35 contact hours. Schools usually provide lesson plans and props for activities but you don’t get paid for preparation time - anything outside of your teaching hours.

Students can range in age from infants through to business people. In most cases you will be expected to teach in traditional fashion: managing the lesson, guiding and encouraging interaction, setting drills and exercises and in some cases disciplining your class. The position of a teacher often carries with it a certain amount of social and professional prestige. In some Asian and South American countries you might experience a suddenly elevated social standing.

Salary: Salaries vary according to country and your seniority. Volunteers can expect free food and accommodation whereas more experienced teachers can expect a salary as high as US$75,000 per annum (as advertised on websites recruiting teachers in the Middle East).

According to www.teachenglishworldwide.com, it is the Asian and Middle Eastern markets that allow you to save the most, “up to US$1,000 per month and still live well”.

Location: There are jobs in Portugal, Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, or any of the other former Eastern Bloc nations, as well as India, Asia, East Timor and Indonesia, South America and Africa.

The experience: Consider what you want from the experience - want to learn Spanish? Go to South America. Want to study Buddhism? Go to Tibet. There’s a plethora of choice for the globetrotting English teacher with the internet your best job-finding resource


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