What position do you hold at Teaching Nomad? What has been your career path so far?
I’m a Senior Recruiter and Account Manager at Teaching Nomad (TN). On the recruiting side this means that I interview prospective teachers who are interested in teaching abroad. We try to learn as much about a teacher as we can in a 25-30 minute Skype interview.
What their past experience is like, their motivations for teaching abroad and what their career aspirations within the education industry are. This is probably the most satisfying part of the job because I can help steer teachers towards positions that best fit what they’re looking for as well as give them a bit of career guidance on the best way to get where they want to be.
On the account management side I visit schools to talk with the administration and teaching staff to make sure they meet TN’s standards before signing them on as a client school. Once we’ve brought them on board it’s mostly communicating with them about their vacancies and the applications of TN Teachers.
Did YOU teach abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
I did! Before taking on my current role I taught for a year in Songjiang, a south western suburb of Shanghai, China. I worked in a small, independent language training school, an evening and weekend gig. Prior to coming to China I had been travelling for over a year in South-East Asia and I’d met so many teachers who recommended teaching ESL that I thought I’d give it a go!
China seemed like a good choice because I’d heard a lot about its rapid economic development and increasing importance in the world, plus I’d always wanted to have a crack at learning Mandarin since I’d often heard how difficult it was to learn. I like a challenge!
What does the future hold for Teaching Nomad -- any exciting new programs to share?
Actually we just launched TN TEFL Academy here in Shanghai. The Shanghai municipal government recently tightened their visa regulations which means that they’ll no longer accept online TEFL certificates.
We expect the rest of China will gradually follow so we decided to offer a comprehensive, 4 week in person course here in Shanghai so that teachers can meet governmental requirements and get a solid foundation in teaching at the same time. Eventually I’d like to see the Academy expanded to include International Baccalaureate and Montessori certification, though that may be some way off!
At the end of last year we also launched our substitute teacher program here in Shanghai which is gaining traction fast. A dedicated substitute supply service is something fairly new to China and up till now most international schools have had to scramble to find someone to cover classes whenever a teacher calls in sick. It’s a great way for teachers to earn a little extra money, particularly if they’ve got a light work load.
What about the future of the Teach Abroad industry? How do you think education will change over the next 10 years?
In the past Teach Abroad has struggled with a bit of a stigma back home as not a “serious” option, like it’s something that people do while putting off difficult, more important decisions back home. I think this is changing. There is a growing realization that you have a very good quality of life teaching abroad, that the compensation can be competitive with a career back home and that there are good opportunities for career progression.
This is also reflected in the growth of international and foreign language schools that use foreign curriculum and require professional qualifications from their teachers. This is particularly obvious here in China where a lot of these schools are less than 15 years old, but I think it’s a global trend.
Increasingly a professionally qualified teacher can command western standard conditions and compensation anywhere in the world, often in places with a significantly lower cost of living. So I think you’ll see a lot more people completing a BA or MA of Education with the intent of spending most of their teaching careers abroad.
Which teach abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
China of course!! Haha Teach Abroad is traditionally associated with Japan and Korea but what I hear from a lot of my conversations with teachers who have taught there is that opportunities there seem to be drying up. I think the future of teach abroad is in the emerging economies of China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
Within that group China’s higher salaries give it a pretty significant edge over the competition. China’s huge population means that the strong demand for native English teachers, that drives these higher salaries, will continue for a long time to come. So to answer your question most overrated: Korea and Japan. Most underrated: Vietnam, Indonesia and China.