I know of a brand new international school in Bangkok that has a great building and no teachers or students yet. I know they want to hire two or three great kindergarten teachers who are certified in North America. If you are reading this blog and you would like an adventure where you could really make a difference, please write me.
I was very impressed with China and I think it would be a great place to teach. All of the private schools I visited last week were well equipped with the best equipment both in terms of their vocational equipment as well as the classroom. The administrators knew exactly what they were doing and the students were respectful and positive. They could not wait to say hello to me as I was the only Caucasian around. If they could they smiled and continued to talk to the limit of their abilities.
The classes were larger than you might be used to and the practice in their Chinese classes is to "force feed" them like a stuffed goose but in the English classes it did look like you might expect in your class in the west.
I did get a kick of the students who were charged with greeting teachers. They wore a red sash and when teachers walked by on the way to class they were greeted with a welcome teacher in a loud and clear voice. At first I thought it was only two students following us around at every entrance but I learned that students took turns with this duty and were responsible for a two hours a day once a year.
This is the electromagnetic train that you take to Shanghai airport. There were two tour groups from India when I was there just to take the ride on this train. It goes up to 400 kilometers and hour and takes about 11 minutes. All of the highways I was on were well paved and well maintained and were decorated with beautiful e flora and fauna all along the route. However, we mostly took trains because they went at 300 kilometers an hour and were comfortable and easy to take.
I imagine if you were teaching in China and wanted to have a week-end away in another part of China it would be very easy to get there by train and then subways. In Toronto, where I am from, if you took the longest subway ride you could take it might last 30 minutes, In Beijing and Shanghai they have at least seventeen lines each and you could literally be on the subway for days without ever passing the same stop twice. It was very impressive and the people on the subways were all well behaved and polite. They all offered me a seat ( which probably means I look old) but were very courteous nevertheless.
The only time we had trouble with planes not running on time was with planes coming in and out of Shanghai because the airport is so busy, but the terminal itself is well ordered and functions well. It is easy to take a taxi, train, or bus from the airport to wherever you want to gol
I was very impressed with how much time and care is obviously taken on public parks and roadways. Even though some cities in China have a larger population than all of Canada, there are always places to escape to which are aesthetically designed and very peaceful. Even the roadways are designed with calming trees and flowers.
Even though the pace of life seems hectic with Chinese people seemingly driven to accomplish so much, there are many places to just chill out and relax.
You do not see me but I am there. As a foreigner who visited a Pagoda on Meak Bochea Day, a day of cleansing oneself of one's sins, the monks eat a festive meal before noon and then disappear to study or do whatever monks do. Many guests are in the pagoda praying and making merit by bringing food, feeding the monks and serving them. For some reason, one of the monks spoke English and asked me to join them, I assume because I showed an interest in what was happening and I had a white face. ( obviously a foreigner.) The monk who invited me asked me to pay my respects to the head monk. First of all, I really did not know how to pay respects and secondly I was not sure who he was pointing at. Was he pointing at a human being, or the alter, or a monk that was no longer with us?
After some false starts, I figured out who he was talking about and bowed my head in his direction. He told me to go over and speak with him, which I did. When I got back, there was a heaping bowl of food at "my " plate and I felt like I had 400 eyes staring at me to ensure I ate every morsel. Since I had no choice, I ate food I did not recognize or even like and ate every last morsel.
It was sort of embarrassing when the monks suddenly got up to leave, I had no idea whether I should go with them to a study session or something or say put. Needless to stay I decided to remain seated, not an easy task considering I had to be in yoga position and ensure I did not point my feet at anyone, especially a monk! t was embarrassing, I must tell you, when a woman server bowed before me, as if I was a monk!
I am sure this story will find its' way into one of my future books in one form or another.
Another incident that happened to me recently was the result of my crown on my tooth getting loose. I went to a dentist's office near where I live and was delighted that the office was clean, full of modern equipment and nurses and dentists wearing masks, even though we had to take off our shoes outside.
The first thing the dentist said to me after he pried off the crown was " O my God" I figured he must have said something in Cambodian so I asked him to repeat it and there was no doubt what he said..."O My God!" What was I in for, I thought to myself, especially after he called in a "specialist". He said you better go and have an X ray before we do anything.
I felt the dollar bills adding up by the minute. I had my X ray and the specialist said you need a new crowns and a bridge. I did not know exactly what he was talking about but thought I would have to take out a mortgage on my house.
He slowly told me how much it would cost...$180.00 per crown, $2 for an Xray and so on. If you have had dentist work in the west, you know it is $100 before they even say hello. Assuming the quality of the work is the same it is the bargain of the century.
Off course, all of these stories and thousands more I will tell you are the lifeblood of any author. I don't think you can just write a story strictly from your imagination without some foundation or point of view or place. The creativity part comes with how you manipulate that story and work with it to make it a novel.
Reread my story, It all Started in Mandalay and see if you can figure out which parts are strictly my imagination and which parts are things that may have actually happened.
It occurs to me that in over a year, I never really defined what an international education really was and until I do how can we best judge which school to work?
As you can see from the job sites I talked about, there are thousands of schools calling themselves international schools all over the world, but how many fit the following criteria:
Do your homework on the above and if you want to teach in a truly international school, make sure the school has most if not all of the criteria I mentioned above.
But is this enough? One would hope that you desire to teach in a school where you can actually transform students to be players on the world stage.
A truly global citizen would probably have the following qualitites:
Read the mission and vision statements from the schools before you even think of applying. If you just want any job, apply to any school , but if you want to make a difference, do you homework before you apply and look for the criteria outlined here. Good luck and please let our small community know when you have found the jackpot. These schools are few and far between and we all want to teach there.
If you look at the sites I keep telling you about, you will notice that there are now hundreds of jobs offered. There are also many job fairs you can attend so the sky is the limit, but how do you decide when you have so many choices?
This seems to be the obvious one, but be careful. You can be easily fooled. If you are getting a lot of money at a very professional school, there are reasons for it. It is either because of the location of the school where too many expats do not want to go, or a "snobbish" school where there will be tremendous pressure to perform.
There is noting wrong with pressure to perform, that is for sure. But do you want parents and administrators bugging you all of the time to raise grades and so on?
You can also be fooled by the salary. For example, Singapore pays tremendous salaries, but be advised that they are in Singapore dollars which is not the equivalent of USD. Also be very aware of the cost of living. As I wrote in an earlier post, how much money are you going to have to pay for a tomato vis-vis your salary in Singapore or wherever versus your home country. How many hours do you have to work for that tomato or case of beer or whatever product or service you wish to buy?
Or, to put it another way, how much money are you going to be left with in your pocket at the end of the day after you pay for your rent and food? You will be surprise how far something like $2,000 USD a month goes in places like Cambodia or Vietnam!
Do you want to make a lot of money and benefits and be one of the fish in a large school of over a 1000 students, or do you want to be the big fish in the pond? It really depends on your personality, but for myself, I prefer to be the big fish! I have started a lot of small schools that became big, in large part, because of me. When you start a school you do not make much money because the owners cannot afford it, but you have tremendous satisfaction seeing the school grow and prosper thanks in large part to your gifts as a teacher. Small money but great experience because you will have to do so much but the rewards, in my opinion, are great.
Where do you want to live? Do you want sand and surf? Go to someplace like Phuket Thailand. Do you want temples and tranquility? Go to some place like Myanmar where you might not get the conveniences of home, but home will never be like Myanmar. Talking about Myanmar, why not buy my book, IT ALL STARTED IN MANDALAY and read what teaching in Myanmar is really like. If youenjoy hustle and bustle, choose a country like Vietnam which is fast growing and making huge economic strides. Just have a look at TIEONLINE and JOYJOBS and see how much choice you really have.
If you have the choice of a few places to go but you are not sure which school or country to choose, read some of my blog comments on each country or just write me here and ask and I promise you I will give you the costs and benefits of each country so you can go prepared.
Good luck with your choices. The world is truly your oyster!
,A friend of mine from Atlanta just called to get some advice. He is a wonderfully gifted teacher and has his own studio where he works with actors. He would make a wonderful drama teacher at any international school but he does not have a teacher certificate. He has about forty years of experience working in Hollywood, studied with all of the big names, and has appeared in many movies. Unfortunately, as I told him, that and a dollar will buy him a cup of coffee in Asia since he will probably not get a job in an international school.
As I told him, all an international school has to know is if you have a teacher accreditation. What that means is you have a university degree and a degree from a faculty of education which gets you accredited in your province or state. If you are entitled to teach in a North American school you can get your foot in the door. Otherwise, you will end up teaching in a state school in Asia or a language school that appear on every block. It is too bad but that is the reality.
In my friend's case, he is also over sixty and in many instances, you will not be accepted to teach unless you have spectacular qualifications because it is hard to get a visa for you because you are competing directly with a a teacher from the indigenous population.
If yo If you are an older person but do feel you have something to offer to students I would recommend going to http://www.tieonline.com/ because it has a place in their ad for age restrictions. Most of the ads will say up to age 60 but others say no age limit. I know China is getting very strict about older applicants and Thailand is going that way but places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia are probably still available.
If you are over 60 and do get a job somewhere, please comment on this blog and let us know where the best places to apply are. The other alternative , of course, is to volunteer. I will write about that next
A guy wrote and told me he was not sure he wanted to be a teacher, but would love to try it, if for no other reason that he would be able to discount it as a career if he did not like it. It made perfect sense to me. I asked him if he had a degree and teacher certification. He said he had a degree but no certification.
This is what I said to him. There are high status international schools which he cannot apply to without teaching credentials. There are also bilingual schools in each country that pick up English speaking teachers with credentials so it is unlikely he would get in there and then there are the "language schools" throughout south east Asia. Parents are crazy about giving their kids a "leg up" and many send their kids to English language school after their already vigorous day at school where they have probably studied from about 7 am until 5 pm.
These language schools are often taught by Filipinos who can speak English and by "backpackers" By backpackers I am talking about young adults who want to study and learn by travelling around the world and usually run out of money sooner or later. Often they stumble into one of these language schools, teach for a few months to make money and then quit and resume their journey of discover.
Some of these backpackers actually fall in love with teaching and simply stay on or come home to North America or Europe and study teaching formally before they try to get a job in their own country and begin teaching as a career.
Conversely, many discover that they hate it, which is also good, because then they can eliminate one thing from their potential list of careers when they are ready to work full time. But, by going to teach at a language school, they can teach "light." Try it out with very little risk and lots of potential gain. They may even find their passion in life, both metaphorically and literally.
You do not have to take a a Toefl course to get a job teaching. When you start to search for jobs you will see all kinds of come on ads trying to engage you in spending money to take a course with a guaranteed job at the end. If you want, spend your money but if you are just wanting to get a taste of teaching, don't bother. You will learn on the job. Just show up and prove that you are a native English speaker, can walk and chew gum at the same time, and are willing to learn. They will ask you to demonstrate a sample lesson and if you seem to be able to control the class you will be hired immediately. Don't worry about not knowing what to do....either do the other teachers.
It is in this kind of situation where you will learn about yourself and if you are cut out to be a teacher. Try it, you might like it. If you like, write me and ask me which countries are better to teach in and which websites you might find helpful. Good luck.
How would you like to be siting in this boat ready to slip into warm clear water on the beaches of Thailand?
The Kajonkiet family of schools in Phuket has got four jobs right now.
If you can see yourself in this boat, write to email@example.com and tell them "Mike sent you"
I know I am getting about 100 "hits" a day on this blog, but I have no idea where you are located. If you are living in Asia, I am thrilled to tell you that AsiaBooks is now carrying the soft cover version of my book It All Started in Mandalay and I would love you to go out and buy it right now! Luckily they are carrying the second edition where I have added about thirty pages of dialogue so I am sure it is a more interesting read than the first edition, or so my readers have told me.
If you are one of the North American readers of this blog, slide over the right column and buy the book from Freisen Press or any other of your favourite retailers. It gives me a lot of satisfaction when you write and let me know how you enjoyed the book. In fact, it makes my day. If the book sales on any particular day are slow I simply go for a walk and usually see something like this.
If you want to be here, just check out some of my blogs to find out how to get a teaching job in Asia!
I had dinner in Bangkok last night with three teachers in their late 60's who are still teaching. I kept asking them why and I think the most satisfying answer I got is that is still gave them a "buzz." I can think of no better way to put it.
Why do baseball players, for example, who are multi millionaires in this day and age take jobs as coaches well after retirement from playing. The answer is clearly that they want to give back and/or they love the game so much they don't want to ever leave it. What a nice thought that you still want to do what you have been doing long after you finish getting paid for it. That is not to say that you will not be paid for teaching in Asia because you will and you will be able to live well.
So maybe I am not so crazy after all. In my sixties, having written a novel, traveled the world, and so on, I just took another administration job in Thailand..... Considering what I wrote above, maybe I am not so crazy.
...and having a golf course nearby in in the middle of winter is not a bad perk, wouldn't you say?
Michael Allan Charles is the first time author of It All Started In Mandalay