Tag Archives: travel

Getting qualified to teach abroad- is it worth it?

Teaching English Abroad- Getting qualified

In the few months I’ve been working on the Careers Service Welcome Desk I’ve come across many students asking about teaching English abroad. It’s lead me to reflect on my experience – 3 years teaching English in Cambodia, which I would describe as one of the most interesting and fulfilling experiences of my life.

‘So, what are you going to do now?’

When I graduated in Sociology I was faced with the dreaded question ‘So what are you going to do now?’ I had entertained the idea of doing a PGCE, but didn’t feel ready to commit to a career in teaching. After travelling in Southeast Asia and meeting a lot of English teachers I decided that teaching English seemed the most realistic job option for me if I wanted to work abroad. Whilst travelling I met people from a broad range of educational backgrounds; some had PGCEs, others had done online TEFL courses, and some had no qualifications at all. None of them seemed to have difficulty finding teaching work, however, a recurring theme in my conversations was that the more qualified teachers worked in better schools, had greater job security, and higher pay.

 Reality Check

I returned to England with one goal – to get back to the sun, smiles, and cheap beer of South-East Asia as soon as possible! I planned to do a 100-hour online teaching course for around £250, alongside working full-time as a waitress. As I was living with my parents at the time (thanks Mum and Dad!) I worked out I could be on a plane to Bangkok to start my new life within 6 months! However, when I relayed my plan (with much zest) to my dad, he advised that I invest the time and money and gain a qualification that would be recognized by accredited teaching organisations both abroad and the UK. Gaining a recognised qualification could be beneficial in developing a teaching career in the future. My Dad was an ESL lecturer at University of Bristol so I realised that his comments were informed, and subsequently took his advice by investing in a more in-depth training course which resulted in a recognised qualification – the Trinity Cert TESOL.

Back to school

The Trinity Cert TESOL is a 5-week intensive teacher training course comprising modules in Teaching Skills, Language Awareness, Learning an Unknown Language and Reflecting on the Experience, and a Material Assessment. I observed English lessons taught by both experienced TESOL teachers and my peers, and had weekly teaching observations in which I planned and taught English lessons to International students wanting supplementary lunchtime sessions alongside English courses. These sessions were assessed, and I was given feedback and ways to improve after each session. For me this was the most valuable part of the course as it gave me an idea of how much work needed to be put into planning a lesson, and the importance of building rapport with the students. I would have not have gained this insight from doing the 100-hour online course!

The Trinity Cert TESOL

Doing the 5-week Trinity Cert TESOL course was incredibly challenging. I got up at 5.30am to finish lesson plans, studied after school to meet assessment deadlines, and dreamt about grammar and phonology at night! But the hard work paid off, and after 5 weeks I was a qualified TESOL teacher and, as a result, when I went to Cambodia a couple of months later I was able apply for jobs in the well-established international schools that paid better than the local public ones. I got a job at the Australian Centre for Education who trained me to deliver lessons preparing students for IELTS. This is The International English Language Testing System which measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. Having this experience enhanced my CV and helped me secure future jobs. Working at The Australian Centre for Education was a very valuable experience. I built a portfolio of teaching resources, got feedback and advice from experienced   colleagues, and taught students of different ages and abilities.

Was it worth it?

Having a TESOL qualification enabled me to get a better teaching job,but doing the qualification gave me the skills I needed to each, and in both senses, it was definitely worth it. Also, although I have decided not to pursue a career in teaching at this stage in my life the transferable skills I developed in doing the qualification.

Working as a teacher, and living abroad have all greatly enhanced my employability and my self-development so it was worth it in that sense too. I would therefore recommend that anyone considering teaching English abroad to do the Trinity cert TESOL or its CELTA equivalent. Information the CELTA course can be found on the University of Bristol CELFS website.

 

 

 

Funding internships/work experience, volunteering and travel

We meet a lot of students and graduates who are looking for funding for a range of career-related activities, such as internships/work experience, volunteering and travel. This can be a difficult question since there are few straightforward sources of funding for any of these things. However, if you are creative in your search, there are some options to explore.

Funding internships and work experience

The University of Bristol Internship Scheme is open to all University of Bristol students and graduates from the last 3 years, including international students (as long as you have permission to work in the UK). The scheme provides funding for internships with a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) i.e. not employing more than 250 people, or a Not-For-Profit Organisation (NPO).

There is also a lot of useful information on our work experience and internship pages e.g. advice about things to consider when taking unpaid work in the work experience and internship FAQs section. If you would like any further advice on this topic please do come and talk to one of our Careers Advisers.

Funding travel and volunteering

The University of Bristol Student Funding Office invites applications for the Knowlson Trust Travel Awards for travel which is not part of the applicant’s academic studies. These are made from a bequest by Mr John McKerrow Knowlson, Chartered Mechanical and Electrical Engineer of Bristol, and supplemented by grants from the University of Bristol Alumni Foundation.

The following information on travel grants and bursaries was compiled by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) and NASES (National Association of Student Employment Services) members. 

Organisations that offer bursaries or funding:

Other possible sources of funding:

Alternative sources of funding 

There are some general Careers Service pages about funding. Although these are written with postgraduate study in mind, the section about trusts and charities may help you to fund a wide range of activities. For example, the Careers Service subscribes to the online searchable database: Alternative guide to postgraduate funding.  You can also access the latest edition of the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding (PDF, 3.54 MB), or come in and use the reference copy in person. This provides details of how to find and apply to various sources of funding. There may be organisations in there who would be interested in funding someone for education or career-related travel, volunteering or work experience.

There are a number of useful books and websites mentioned on the pages above. In addition to these, the Careers Service has a reference copy of the Guide to educational grants, available from the Resources Help Desk. This is a comprehensive list of sources of non-statutory help for people in education who are in financial need, up to and including first degree level. It contains information on over 1,400 national & local grant-making trusts, which together distribute more than £54 million in grants. Browse our online resources for ‘funding’ to see full details of all relevant resources, both print and online.

Further help and support 

If you are able to come into the Careers Service in person then Information Specialists and Welcome Desk staff can show you the funding guides and talk you through the resources above in person. You can then also make an appointment to talk to a Careers Adviser about funding applications. For example, you may want to draft some applications and bring these in to get feedback.

Megan Wiley, Information Specialist

Planning your year abroad

Spain

When asked about the reasons for choosing their course, most modern language students would mention the opportunity to spend a year outside the cold and dreary UK. After a few minutes of hearing how lucky they are to have the chance to spend 6 months in sunny Barcelona or chic Paris (insert regional stereotypes here) the modern languages student will inevitably be asked the dreaded question: ‘So, what are you planning to do in your time abroad?’ Panic!

As much as the average linguist romanticises and boasts about their year abroad, many of us do not have any concrete plans for our time abroad until about a third of the way through second-year. By that point we are only a few weeks away from filling in forms whereby we commit ourselves to work or study in Europe or further afield. Compulsory attendance at the Year Abroad Meeting in mid-June is not (just) to stop us enjoying our summer (or rather the UK’s woeful attempt at summer); the main reason for it is to get us thinking about what we want to do on our year abroad.

Where to go – Financial implications

The first important step is to decide where you want to live. If you choose to work in Europe, either through a British Council Teaching Assistantship or an individually sourced placement; or to study at a partner institution in Europe, you will be eligible for an Erasmus grant and will receive a fee waiver.

For those venturing outside Europe or to a non-partner institution within Europe, you will not receive any of these benefits. Whilst partial funding may still be available, for example through the Abbey-Santander Scholarship for Latin America, this reduced financial support is an important factor to consider when making your decision. The year abroad is an invaluable experience and, for many, one that will not be repeated. However, it will not be your only chance to go abroad.

Some places are far more expensive to live in than others, so you need to decide if you are willing to take on this financial burden. As much as you might want to spend the year in Paris or Rio, this might not be the most financially suitable option at this time. Yes, you have your normal student finance entitlements, but not everyone is willing to take out a loan for a fourth year. Furthermore, depending on where and how you choose to spend your year, you could end up with a decent amount of savings by the time you return for your final year.

What to do – Study or work?

The next important decision to make is whether you want to work or study. I cannot stress enough how vital this decision is in determining how your year plays out.

The main advantages of studying are the support you get from the host institution in settling in and finding accommodation etc., the opportunity to live and study with other young people, and the fact that the exams you take (normally) don’t count towards your degree. When choosing where to study, you should bear in mind the differences in the higher education system as the levels of support provided to students can vary. Similarly, course choice is important. You should choose a course that interests you, but you should also think of which course would be most beneficial to your language learning. Depending on your learning style, you might benefit more from smaller class sizes (more interaction with other students) or classes which require regular essays or written work submission. On the other hand, being a student often requires more effort on your part to fully immerse yourself in the culture of your destination as it is easy to fall into the trap of just socialising with other Anglophones or non-native speakers.

This leads me to the main advantage of working. You will most likely spend 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, working and speaking in Russian, Portuguese, Italian etc. This is the best way to ensure that your language skills improve, which is, after all, the main purpose of the year abroad. At the same time, working abroad requires a lot of independent research and you are solely responsible for finding and securing your placements. If you are able to do this successfully, this evidence of maturity and self-sufficiency is very attractive for future employers.

Don’t panic!

Whilst making these decisions might seem a daunting task, they have to be made, so try to keep a cool head when doing so. Think ahead. Talk to careers advisers, personal tutors and students who have already been on their year abroad. The better prepared you are, the more you will get out of this fantastic year which, for many of you, will be the best year of your life.

Rosemary Amadi, BA French & Portuguese

Image: © Tim Riley 2014

Finding work abroad

sign post picture

Do you wish to travel the world in search of work you really enjoy in a new and different environment? Finding it difficult to know where to start and which country to choose? Don’t worry, the Careers Service can help!

The world is a big place and the excitement of working abroad may be great, yet when faced with the reality of starting your search, it can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. The Careers Service has created a ‘How to’ guide for finding work abroad to get you started. Use this and follow the steps below and you will be jetting off around the globe in no time!

1. Use the Careers Service resources
Our International work and study pages provide lots of links and information related to international work abroad. For a more detailed selection, you can search by region and country.

Some useful resources include:

Going Global:
Going Global provides detailed country guides with a large range of information about working in individual countries – from industry and employment trends to interview advice and CV guidelines. It also includes advertisements for jobs or placements and a directory of employers (which allows you to identify potential companies of interest in exact regions/sectors).

Prospects country profiles:
Prospects country profiles provide lots of useful advice about applying for jobs and working in individual countries, including where to find those opportunities and some key job vacancy sites you can use.

Finding work abroad event:
Presentation slides available to download from a recent event on finding work abroad run by one of our Careers Advisers and Information Specialists.

2. Search for employers
To help target your research, it is helpful if you have some ideas about the type of work you are interested in pursuing. Once you have a particular sector in mind, you can start searching for employers within that sector. You can then see whether they have offices abroad. Have a look at our ‘How to research employers’ page for some ideas to get you started.

3. Network
The University has over 130 different nationalities represented in the student body. Interaction with fellow peers from around the world can provide you with valuable cultural insights and increase your cultural awareness. Make the most of your time at university by socializing with different people from all walks of life. You can join a variety of cultural societies and attend meetings and talks throughout the year which will help you to start to build a picture of which country you may like to work in; as well as increasing your worldwide network.

Another approach to finding work abroad is to identify people working in certain parts of the world who you can contact for advice. If you are a current Bristol student then a good starting point is to search our Careers Network to find Bristol graduates who are currently working abroad, or who have worked abroad before, and have volunteered to be contactable.

You could also use the professional networking site LinkedIn to identify contacts. Bristol students can join the University of Bristol Alumni LinkedIn Group to browse members by location, occupation and employer. You can also identify relevant groups for the sector you want to work in or your country of interest.

And finally…

4. Use the help available
Come and speak to one of our Information Specialists on the Resources Help Desk for further information about the range of resources on offer to students and how to use them effectively. For advice and guidance on approaching firms, drafting international CVs and submitting applications, come in and book an appointment with one of our Careers Advisers.

If you are successful in finding work experience abroad, come and let us know! You can enter the Overseas Internship Competition where you could win some funding towards your experience once you return.

Bon voyage!

Lydia Murphy, Information Assistant

[Image sourced from morguefile.com]