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In a complete rut - M.Ed., PGCE, QTS, Middle East?

Discussion in 'Qualifications & Courses' started by JBauer, 3 Jan 2017.

  1. JBauer

    JBauer Thread Starter Member

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    I don't know what to do.

    After completing a CELTA, I started out as your standard TEFLer in a government school. I realised after a while (probably too long a while) that I wouldn't get much out of it in the long run. I have since been working in an international school doing much the same thing as I did in the government school, but as I am no longer an English teacher (there are qualified teachers for that), I don't get to do much that I find particularly fulfilling, instead doing the usual present perfect-type stuff. As a local hire, and also not being a qualified teacher, I earn a salary which may be quite good for TEFL, but derisory for the qualified teachers there. The main reason I continue is for the education my kid receives, which has a monetary amount per year of more than what I earned as a TEFLer, let alone what I would have been able to pay.

    Essentially, my problem is that I don't know what I can do to get myself to a higher level of salary. I know, no one got into teaching to get rich; however, it is important to have a salary you can plan for the future with. TEFL does not give this in Thailand ('legally' at the very least); my job now doesn't quite, either.

    So, I don't know what to do next. I have finished a PGCE(i), which, though I received a distinction, I found quite emotionally taxing and expensive. I knew going in that the PGCE(i) would not attract QTS etc.; however, having now seen that it probably won't get me anything in terms of more money at all, in any position, I am (hopefully understandably) extremely nervous about doing any further courses which would cost a lot of money and provide little return on investment.

    There are a few options, all of them huge gambles which could easily ruin me. The first two options would wipe out my savings; the first three options would entail me not seeing my wife or my kid for quite some time, and would probably mean quitting my present job, therefore stopping my kid's education (unless I pay a huge amount for it myself; sorry, but what I have seen of the quality of Thai education is not an option for my kid, though I realise other posters may strongly disagree).

    Options:

    - Get a Masters. This wouldn't help in a international school (at least in terms of salary). My wife feels I would be a good fit for a Thai university/academic position (and she has quite a lot of experience in the area, though I do think she is overstating whatever qualities these may be), and a Masters could get me there. However, there can't be that many positions (in TEFL or similar) available, even in the world, let alone Thailand, and certainly none in Thailand which would pay a whole lot more than I earn now (and which probably wouldn't allow me to provide a good education for my kid). Even so, how to get one? An online Masters might not be seen in a good light (as was discussed by other posters in another post); a Thai Masters might not be easily transferable to respectable employment outside Thailand, rightly or wrongly; a Masters done in the UK will be extremely expensive, as I would be paying the foreign student rate, having lived away for so long.

    - Get a PGCE. I would have to pay the foreign student rate again; it seems to be very difficult to start if you don't live in the UK (with an address and schools in your location you can apply to); it can only be done in the UK, so I would have to leave my wife and my kid; most say that you need to have home country experience as well (to be taken seriously as a qualified teacher), so it wouldn't just be the 1 year, but an extra 1-2 years on top, after which my kid wouldn't recognise me. Additionally, it might be hard to be (presumably) an old(er) guy on a course with mostly young people; aside from English, I don't know any subject I could feasibly teach, so I would not attract any bursaries etc.

    -Go to a country which pays more. I have often considered the Middle East. However, again, this would be alone, so, again, I would be a crappy dad. Additionally, another poster suggested that they are only looking for people with Masters now anyway, so I would have to invest again.

    -I have heard of the possibility of getting QTS or similar through assessment, done in Thailand. This may be less cripplingly expensive (possibly), but might not result in better salary either, especially if I have to explain/defend the reasoning for this method to potential employers.

    - Keep doing what I am doing until I get severely burnt out or start to look too old, then get quietly let go; live in relative poverty for the rest of my life (no, I am not being dramatic; this is a real concern and keeps me up at nights).

    Sorry if I sound annoying. However, it is difficult to gamble with what little money you have, especially when most options also result in less time with your child at an important age.

    Apologies if I have overlooked anything. Which is the best option? Are there other options?
     
  2. Stamp

    Stamp Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm sorry that I can't help you. I'm a TEFL-er (science) with an average salary and private classes at home. I'm very happy with this life and my earnings.

    I'm sure that some other members will have some answers for you.
     
  3. JBauer

    JBauer Thread Starter Member

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    Hi Stamp,

    Yeah, I appreciate that. I know some people are fine; I don't want to presume that they might all have other alternative money sources or income streams (inheritance, assets, smart investments, familial help if needed, savings from previous careers, etc.), but I definitely don't have any of these, so I hope that it is understandable that I am more worried about the importance of getting a higher salary from my present/future career than they might be (again, it may not be the case they have these things, and they might be perfectly happy).

    Additionally, my present job expressly forbids extra tuition classes (certainly for remuneration), so this is not an option . Also, to be honest I never got the hang of private classes, and I was always terrified of upsetting the ptb- people always say you won't have trouble, but the local immigration department took an interest in teachers teaching extra classes at my last school, and that news kind of ended it as a viable option for me (the option of deportation or prison is certainly not viable!).
     
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  4. Stamp

    Stamp Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm glad you're thinking about it. So many teachers don't.

    Again, I'm sure some of our members will chime in.

    All the best, JBauer. :thumbs up
     
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  5. Hey_ewe

    Hey_ewe Well-Known Member

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    I can empathise with your situation. I find myself at age 40, settled with a wife, house and a job that I enjoy. However I know that it would be better for us in the long run, for me to become a qualified teacher. I don’t teach in an international school, just a government EP, teaching science, English, health and PE. I would be driven insane teaching just English day in, day out. I have a good salary, working environment and lots of private work. As a result, I take home about the same amount as an international school teacher, without the additional workload. If I were on a basic TEFL teachers wage, the decision would be easy. I am lucky to have landed on my feet but I am almost trapped by my good fortune.

    I also know what you mean about worrying about age. I am comfortable in my job now but who knows whether they will tire of me when I start to get older? Thai schools are staggeringly shallow and they will take a fresh faced 25 year old with no experience over a 50-60 year old with years of experience, I’ve seen it happen. It flies in the face of the 'respect your elders’ and ‘pee/nong’ culture that defines Thai work relationships bowing and scrapping at the feet of and elder Thai teacher but I guess it doesn’t apply to farangs. Perhaps this is also the case in some international schools but I would have thought that a teacher would be judged mainly on their professional ability, not just if they look pretty for the photo.

    I ponder the decision, wondering whether I am now too old to go through all that effort and hardship, spending a few years back in the UK, to end up being able to teach in an international school for 15-20 years, earning slightly more than I do now. Of course, it’s not just me that's affected and such a move is going to be a stressful time. My wife has no great desire to live in the UK so it wouldn't be an easy ride.

    How old are you? If you are from the UK, don’t you have a UK address you could use? depending on your status with student loans you could be eligible for a tuition fee loan. I presume you'd want to teach in an upper tier school? The best option would be to go back to the UK for a few years, attain QTS and a couple of years post qualification experience, earning UK wages whilst you do. You would be classed as an overseas hire and maybe you’d be lucky and get a job straight away. This would mean uprooting your family but at least you would have good quality schooling, which is a worry here.

    You can take a masters through the university of London international programmes. I’m not sure that Thai universities are ever going to pay that much but I might be wrong.

    There was a course at edge hill university for teachers who already had a PGCE and just needed QTS. It looks like there are quite a few places around the country that run AO assessment only QTS courses.

    Assessment Only | Get Into Teaching

    Keele University ran a PGCEi in conjunction with a school in Bangkok that I believe that led to QTS but I’m not sure if they still run the course. How about asking your current school if they would consider helping you attain QTS? I am not sure what criteria the school must meet to recommend someone for QTS.
     
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  6. Hey_ewe

    Hey_ewe Well-Known Member

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    You’re quite right to be considering this and making plans for the future because the Thai government does not look after Thai pensioners, let along foreigners, so its down to you. You should check up on your national insurance contributions with the inland revenue, which can be done easily online. Depending on your age, you’ll need 35/30 years of NI contributions to get a full state pension, probably 35. You can pay for missed years up to 6 years afterwards. If you have any kind of occupational pension, you need to find out how much it will be worth. Your school legally should be paying into the social security fund and that gives you a small pension as well as healthcare. You can continue to pay in after you’ve finished working too.

    Yes, a UK state pension is not a huge amount (it’s £155 at the moment) but that’s 27k thb and thats better than nothing.
     
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  7. SageAdvice

    SageAdvice Well-Known Member

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    A suggested course of action:

    a) do a search of job sites for the Gulf: I'm sure a number of them will offer jobs to an NES, BA degree and 3 years experience.
    b) bite the bullet: take a ME job and vacation in Thailand.
    c) decide on an endpoint for time served, money saved, etc so you work toward the light and life won't seem like endless dune-crawling.
    d) if you don't expect a pension from anywhere, set up an after-tax retirement account that begins payouts when you reach 60. Put as much into it as you can afford on a monthly basis.
    e) there you have it: good income, family visits, retirement income assured.
     
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  8. portnoy58

    portnoy58 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, JBauer, many of the points you raise ring familiar bells for me especially those relating to your children's education.

    Like you, I have a PGCE(i) and having completed 7 years in a bilingual school in provincial Thailand I used it and this experience to land a job as a home room teacher in an international school in China.

    I always doubted whether the PGCE(i) would have landed me a job in one of Thailand's better international schools - quite simply too much competition from younger, experienced and accredited teachers. No point in grumbling about that. If I could get an interview I would fancy my chances but simply on the basis of a desk top review of applicants a PGCE(i) and seven years teaching the Thai national curriculum isn't a great calling card. Don't get me wrong, it says something positive, but it is not enough.

    So in China I get much better pay and conditions, teaching the Primary Years Programme of the IB and even completed an official IB training course. I am also doing a Masters just to do what I can to be seen to be improving myself plus I enjoy the academic side and it does have a positive effect on what I do in the classroom. It's early days here but my son is joining me for the second semester after the Chinese New Year and hopefully Mrs P and my daughter at the end of the Thai school year. We'll give it a whirl. I don't know where we'll go from here. I am under contract until June 2018 and will maybe think about the next step towards the beginning of September/October. To be honest there would be many things worse than signing up here for another stint.

    I used the PGCE(i) to get a Thai 5 year teachers license which, if you like, is my get out of jail card; if it all goes wrong here, I can head back to Thailand for something.

    To go back to the beginning, I was attracted to China by the sheer demand for English teachers. Clearly there are many hazards in getting a decent job. I landed on my feet after an abortive first recruitment experience turned sour. Even if it all goes wrong here, I reckon there will be many alternative options in China, especially as I am 100% official - Foreign Expert Certificate, Health Certificate and Residence Permit. While the initial paper chase and bureaucratic trail is challenging, including the notarisation and certification of degrees etc, once done life is much simpler - no 90 day reporting, no licensing issues once FEC has been granted, renewal is basically a formality; as I have just learned coming in and out of China for a holiday visit to Thailand was simple - no re-entry permit necessary - I can come and go as often as I want with the residence permit and renewal is apparently a formality. I am about to bring the family in and I am told this is also pretty simple once my paperwork is in order as they will enter on dependent visas.

    It is cold and the pollution is a problem but ....

    Good luck.
     
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  9. mike123_ca

    mike123_ca Active Member

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    I think your not alone, I do believe their are many others in similar situations. Having a family just increases your responsibilities in that their are other people who are now depend upon you. I believe the direction you will want to take will depend upon how many more years you want to work as a teacher. I myself want to continue somewhere between 5 and 10 years. I'm hoping to build up other income streams that will reduced the need for me to continue teaching.
     
  10. JBauer

    JBauer Thread Starter Member

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    Hi Portnoy,

    I have some maybe rude questions- please don't feel you have to answer if it is too personal! Is the pay you get for this role good? How does it compare to the standard 40k of so baht/mth in Thailand? How did you get into IB? Sorry if I am asking too much or being a bit upfront, but China does interest me, especially if it can provide a workable opportunity like that...
     
  11. stfranalum

    stfranalum Well-Known Member

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    If I were you, Bauer, i'd pack it in and go home. At least there you could guarantee a good education for your kid (and be with your kid) and then begin to work on any other kind of degrees or whatnot.

    you've hit the point, at what many other thai teflers are, that they realize that it's a charade and they are going nowhere. the second you add on things like family or future expectations, any other benefit to being in thailand takes a massive beating.

    if your kid is your priority, then start from there. just prioritize your child and work from that point onwards.

    there are many paths to take, and fortune favors the bold.

    - a masters degree (not a distance learning one) will help you secure better paying positions, but that is in another country. you dont want to leave your kid, and i understand that. also without the MA, your prospects of earning what you could goes down to the point where i think it wouldn't be worth it. with international school fees, you'd be running in place.

    - a teaching license from your country is a good step. if you can do that online, then great. that would allow you the choice to work for not only a higher wage in thailand, but also to consider working back home.

    when your kid is back in your home country, you get services and a quality of life that beats life in thailand, hands down. ...now thats only considering the fact that you, like i did, consider thai schooling to be an unacceptable option for your kid. i concur. the schools such major balls and our ancestors would be rolling over in their graves, to have made such sacrifices to come to england (usa for me) only to have you go back to a 3rd world nations and suffer their education...for what? oh right, the weather. the food. for fucks sake you literally cannot get any shallower than that.

    others think the thai schooling is fine-n-dandy. well that's their take. and that's their family. i for one, found it to be appalling and took action to change course.

    fortune favors the bold.

    it will be inconvenient for you to go home. but projecting towards the future, it will allow you more choice (even if you have to work hard at a job you dont consider a career) and it will undoubtedly be a huge leap forward for your kid.

    --> go home. get the teaching license. work for a year or two in a school there. then, you will be fair game to teach at a good inter school (the good ones), and thus, have a "homecoming" to thailand of sorts, on the terms that suit you. this will take 5 years. and during that time, your kid will flower in a better environment, educationally and otherwise.
     
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  12. portnoy58

    portnoy58 Well-Known Member

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    I want to stress my reply is not about bragging rights. I've landed on my feet at one level but on another my new school is actually quite a difficult work place and it would be misleading to suggest I'm in some sort of land of milk and honey. Far from it. I have to work for my money. However I had to work for my money in Thailand too, big style, and also had to deal with buckets of crap; some crap here in China but of a different kind.

    With the free apartment I take out in the region of three times 40k. I get some additional perks like an annual return flight to my residence at the point of appointment; so that means a free flight to Thailand every year; the health insurance is significantly better. The school tuition is 127,000 ¥ or about 625,000 THB per year; it's not worth that, but that's what is charged; my two kids go free.

    I applied for the job and persuaded the school to employ me. I had no IB experience and made that clear in my application. They are aspirant IB candidates so they were prepared to accept me on the basis of being prepared to put the PYP into effect.

    China is a fascinating place to live and work. Just FYI I am a young 58 years old so let me assure you there are opportunities out there. Don't despair!
     
  13. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    I will also throw in my two cents. I also work in an IB school in China where I got in with my ESL experience and BEd. degree. I would suggest similar to Fran's idea to go home and get your QTS. Without the QTS, you will probably have a hard time getting into an international school. Once you get your QTS, you will have some practical experience and you can go to job fairs through Search Associates in your home country (London).

    Your experience teaching ESL couldn't hurt to help you get a job abroad. Some international schools do hire new graduates. Alternately, if you don't get a job right away overseas, you could work back home for a few years and then you will have that to really help you get the higher paying jobs abroad. You don't need a Master's for all jobs in the middle east. Many jobs want QTS and a few years teaching experience.

    I also would recommend you apply to some international schools in China with just your PGCEi. You could apply to EAL jobs and you may get lucky. There are soooo many international schools in China now. Check out Teach Abroad | International Teaching | The International Educator (TIE Online) or Home - Schrole Connect for international schools. Best of luck! I'm happy that I've gained three years of IB experience, but it is time to move on because of the high pollution where I live. Many international teachers move on after a few years or so. Once you are in the system it is like a circuit.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2017
  14. stfranalum

    stfranalum Well-Known Member

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    ^ well said.

    the problem with trying to get a job with minimal qualifications is:

    1. you may get the job
    2. if that place doesnt work out (knowing the efl field, many schools arent good places to have a CAREER) and a lot of those places that will scoop up a teacher with no degree (many of them WANT certified teachers) ...so if they take teachers without the degrees they want, it's VERY likely that those same schools cannot either retain teachers nor recruit the same teachers who expect more from a career.

    3. if you are there, you may get stuck there, or if you cant stay...where to go, except a horizontal move?

    if you go home to get the right license, then you have a lo of options, not just to ladder climb, but many of those schools with stricter requirements are actually better places to work. people switch jobs there less.

    in addition, you will have a much easier time finding work and rely less on luck as you would just squeaking in a place...any place...that takes you.

    ...so in this way, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. i do realize said "ounce of prevention" may be difficult but at least in that case, your kid will have decent schooling. your next move from then will be much more solid and reap much more.
     
  15. muppetminder

    muppetminder Active Member

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    My 2b. Go to China, bust ass and make money. Go home and become a fully qualified teacher. Return to China (Saudi might be prison sentence for wife).

    The whole TEFL thing will be done in a decade.
     

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