I recently recieved and email from a former student. He is taking a class that is helping students explore various careers. One of the assignments is to interview someone in a profession you might be interested in. He asked me a few questions, and I thought it might make for an interesting post.
1. What do you do?
I teach English as a Second Language, develop ESL Curriculum, and train student teachers.
2. How did you get interested in this type of work? Get started in this job?
I have always been interested in language. I have always known that I wanted a job that would require langauge skills. When I came home from my mission, I took a Spanish class. The teacher was also and ESL teacher and told good stories. That got me interested. Later, I met my wife who was an ESL teacher. I observed her class, and I was hooked!
3. How long have you been doing this kind of work?
4. What are 3-5 of the most common activities you do on a typical day?
teach, grade, write curriculum, email, talk to students
5. What is your ultimate career goal?
I always want to teach. In the long run, I want an administrative position that works with language teaching and instructional technology.
6. How did you prepare yourself? Any special schooling, classes, volunteer experience? How much did it cost?
I got an MA in TESOL from BYU. It took a little more than 1.5 years (past my BA) and cost me about $3000 after scholarships.
7. What classes or projects can I do to prepare myself for this career? What is the most valuable thing you learned in college that helped in this career?
Classes: Any TESOL classes. If you want to be involved in this career, you should get a graduate certificate(at least) in teaching ESL.
Projects: Observe ESL classes, volunteer as a teacher or TA
Most Valuable thing learned: not to procrastinate
8. Knowing what you know now, would you take this same career path? Why?
Yes. It is Rewarding! It is fun! It’s what I love to do!
9. What do you like the most about your job?
Helping students learn English, and helping teachers helps students learn English.
10. What are the least rewarding aspects of your job?
Grading long exams.
11. What skills or personal qualities are necessary in this career? • What type of people do you work with?
You should be outgoing, happy, punctual, responsible, understanding, intelligent, willing, and dilligent. You should have experience learning language. These are the type of people I work with.
12. What are other specialties in this career area?
Test Development, teacher training, materials development,
more specific focuses in grammar, reading, writing, vocabulary, listening, speaking, pronunciation, culture
13. Would you advise young people to enter this career area? Why/why not?
If you want to work in the US:
This is a tough question. If you are a woman and are interested in it AND planning on depending on your spouse for your main source of income, definitely. Due to the lack of full-time job opportunities, if you are a man, you need to think twice. Supporting a family may require private insurance and teaching part-time at multiple institutions. It can be tough. However, if you are devoted, go for it. It will take a lot of work to get a stable full-time job, but if it is what you want to do, do it!
If you want to work in other countries:
14. What is the job outlook? What will affect its growth or decline?
The job outlook is always good for part-time teaching. Full-time teaching is much more difficult to find. The number of visas given to applicants in programs and the exchange rate are the main things that affect job outlook. For example, the two countries that provide BYU with the most students, Mexico and Korean, are both having some exchange rate issues with the dollar. In Korea, their money just became half as valuable as it was a year ago. This can really affect the number of students and the number of jobs available.
15. What are the main challenges in this industry?
Visas issued and exchange rates.
16. What do you think one should expect as a starting salary?
17. What is the salary range for someone with 3 years experience? 7 years experience?
3 years: 36k – 50k
7 years: 36k-55k
18. How does your job affect your family and leisure life? How do you balance the many life roles you play (employee, spouse, parent, community volunteer, church worker, etc.)?
It works out really well. I am only obligated to be at the workplace when I am teaching. I am obligated to work 40-50 hours a week. Some weeks I spend 50 hours at work, others only 20 and I do the other 30 at home. I can also work at anytime (besides the classes I teach). I have often worked on curriculum development or grading late at night after family and church obligations are over or early in the morning. I can also use my off-time in the summer to spend with my family and go camping with youth groups in the summer.
19. Do you have any specific advice for someone who is considering entering into this particular profession?
Network. the best way to get a job is to know people, or better yet, for them to know you.
Think carefully if you are going to be the sole income provider for a family. You will probably need to have some special skill to get a job that does not just involve teaching in order to have a stable job with stable income and healthcare benefits.