Staff Spotlight: Carrie Kellenberger


Carrie Kellenberger, co-owner of Reach To Teach Recruiting, is a Canadian expat. She moved to Asia in 2003. Carrie lived in Northern China for her first three years abroad before relocating to Taipei, Taiwan with her husband in 2006. Carrie still works with Reach To Teach teachers in China and Taiwan, but her primary duties at Reach To Teach are now focused on client development, marketing and advertising, and overseeing the day-to-day operations at Reach To Teach.

What position do you hold at Reach to Teach? What has been your career path?

I’m a Canadian expat, living abroad in Asia since 2003. I lived in Northern China for my first three years abroad. My husband and I moved to Taipei, Taiwan through the Reach To Teach Program in 2006. We became the new owners of Reach To Teach in June 2012. My role offers many responsibilities and brings me into contact with many different people and countries. As a company, all our goals are centered on a very simple and important phrase: “To match great teachers with great schools”. My job is to make sure this happens. We are definitely not your average recruiting company. We take our responsibilities to both our teachers and the schools that we work with very seriously. Our service is completely free for teachers.

Did YOU teach abroad? If so, where did you go and what inspired you to go?!

My husband and I both came to Taiwan as Reach To Teach teachers, so let me start by saying that it is a company we have believed in and supported 100% right from the start. We joined the program when it had just started, and throughout the years we have received nothing but amazing support from the staff at Reach To Teach. We have also met dozens of new teachers and made friends that will last us a lifetime.

How have you seen the ESL industry change since you've started teaching English?

We’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of applicants in recent years. More and more people are realizing that teaching abroad is not only a viable career option, but also a means to travel, pay off student loans, and ride out an unstable job market in their home countries. Consequently, we are seeing many applicants who are very well-qualified to teach overseas. Schools are now demanding that teachers have more qualifications, and the competition for those jobs can get quite fierce.

The emergence of new markets, such as China, also plays an important role in the ESL industry. China was once known for taking almost anyone on as a teacher, but those days are pretty much gone. Just recently, the Chinese government changed the requirements to teach English in China. For many teaching jobs you need to have graduated at least two years ago and ideally have some teaching or education experience. Places like South Korea continue to mature in terms of reliability and excellent remuneration packages, while Taiwan continues to attract teachers that are looking for a competitive salary offset by a low cost of living and tropical lifestyle!

What about the future of the ESL industry? How do you think teaching abroad will change over the next 10 years?

The days of arriving in a country with a backpack and the expectation of finding a job are pretty much gone. You simply can’t land in a country like South Korea or China and expect to find a job by knocking on doors. Taiwan has been known in the past for having plenty of jobs for everyone, but the truth is that the job market in Taiwan is dwindling. We get phone calls and applications every day from teachers who are in Taiwan and are unable to find work. It’s getting harder and harder to find a good teaching job without arranging for a job in advance. Today, it’s all about planning ahead and beating out the competition. That’s why Reach To Teach works with the best teachers. All of our teachers are well prepared and ready to go with their teaching adventures abroad.

Furthermore, teaching requirements are becoming stricter, especially in terms of TEFL qualifications. In the last few years we have seen a big shift in schools preferring applicants that hold a TEFL qualification. Schools are becoming much more selective about who they hire and a TEFL qualification is one of the best ways to be selected. In many schools, a 100+ hour TEFL course will allow you to qualify for a higher salary.

Do you have any tips for teachers applying through a recruiter, such as Reach to Teach?

Be sure this is something that feels right for you. Are you excited about working overseas? Are you committed to working abroad for a year? Before you apply, ask yourself what your reasons are for teaching abroad. Are you ready for the highs and lows of the challenge that lies ahead?

- Complete the application form as thoroughly as you possibly can. The more information you give us, the better we’ll be able to assist you.
- Read our FAQ page and contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Make sure you read up on TEFL and CELTA qualifications.
- In your interview, be upbeat and personable. Give us an idea of what you’re going to be like in the classroom. Show us your ideas and charisma. Be yourself.