14 May 2009

Considering ESL teaching in Asia? 3 great places for ESL teachers

The need for ESL teachers is growing throughout the world, particularly in Asia, as English is quickly becoming the international language of choice; if you’re interested in pursuing this profession and moving abroad, check out these three great places for ESL teachers:

1. Hong Kong
Although Hong Kong can be one of the most difficult ESL teaching markets to break into, the rewards are great—particularly financially. Hong Kong offers some of the best ESL teaching wages in Asia; monthly stipends can reach upwards to $5,000.
Not surprisingly, many of the highest paying positions require previous teaching experience, but there are also spots open for beginning ESL teachers as well.
Hong Kong also offers a unique cultural experience, seamlessly blending East and West from exotic foods in street markets to excellent public transportation.
And if you’re worried about not speaking the local language, you shouldn’t be. As an official language of Hong Kong, English is widely spoken and understood, so you’ll have plenty of time to adjust to Cantonese if you so desire (and as someone who has moved to a foreign country, I highly suggest you do so!).
Teaching English in Hong Kong

2. South Korea
South Korea is another Asian country that offers great ESL teaching opportunities, but note you will be required to provide proof of a four-year degree from an accredited university; English must also be your first language.
Many new ESL teachers in South Korea find work in “Hagwons,” private schools that cater to kindergarten and elementary students, but there are also opportunities for teaching at the university level and for private lessons.

South Korea offers competitive pay within great compensation packages, which often include airfare and lodging. Moreover, since the cost of living and tax rates are relatively low in South Korea, you can feasibly even pay off student loans and save money while teaching there.
When choosing a location in South Korea, remember that the country is more than just Seoul—there are several major cities that can offer the teaching and cultural experiences you seek.
English isn’t widely spoken throughout the country, but grocery stores and public transportation usually have signs in English.
Teaching English in South Korea:
3. Taiwan
Just as in South Korea, ESL teachers in Taiwan are required to be native English speakers and to have university degrees—be sure to bring your actual diploma (not a copy) with you in order to get your work visa.
ESL teaching positions are available in all levels of education in kindergartens, chain schools, international schools, and universities; many teachers also take on private lessons and easily manage to save money while teaching in Taiwan.
Again, the cost of living is relatively low for the potential monthly earnings of an ESL teacher, so if you work hard, you’ll also be able to afford to enjoy all the cultural offerings of Taiwan and still live comfortably.

Main stops for ESL teachers in Taiwan include Taipei (the capital city), Kaohsiung (southern port city), or Taichung (third largest city); English is spoken in some parts of the country, but, again, you should definitely take the opportunity to learn Cantonese while you’re there. Not only will you learn an increasingly useful language, you’ll also feel more connected with your surroundings.
Teaching English in Taiwan
A Final Note on Choosing a Location

In choosing where to go to pursue a career as an ESL teacher, remember there are ESL success stories and tales of horror just about everywhere. You should always be honest with yourself about your own qualifications and personal and professional needs when choosing where to work before picking up and moving abroad; moreover, some schools require year-long contracts, so be completely sure about your decision before signing anything.

Guest post by Michelle Fabio, experienced ESL teacher in southern Italy, who also shares online education tips at OnlineEducation.net.

9 May 2009

Top Ten for Education. Number 3 is for Voicethread

How many times have we listened that a picture worths more than one hundreds words? What about using pictures and words thanks to a great tool like Voicethread?

Voicethread is a great tool for collaborative projects since it joins picture and voice in slideshares, it is like an interactive media album. Students can leave comments using voice, text or video if they have a webcam, therefore it promotes asynchronous discusion about the topic which is being discussed. Besides, teachers can decide if they want to publish their Voicethreads presentations to share them with other teachers or keep them private.

This web 2.0 tool allows teachers to know better to their students, interact with them in a lively way and learn about their interests, hobbies, worries, etc. And, on the other hand, students can practice the language, discuss about interesting topics with other students and teachers, contrast opinions from different perspectives and enrich their learning experience.
If you would like to know more about this tool I recommend you to watch the following Voicethread:

What is Voicethread anyway?

Some ways to use Voicethread in education.

If you are interested in knowing more about using Voicethread in the ESL/EFL classroom I recommend you to visit the following Wiki where you will find really useful examples as well as the Webheads and friends at TESOL 2008.

1 May 2009

Top Ten for Education. Number 2 is for Blogs.

As Tiscar Lara says in "Cuadernos de Comunicación e Innovación" magazine, 'Weblogs have a great potential as a tool in the educational field since they can adapt to any discipline, educational level, or teaching method'. Besides, what makes weblogs attractive for ESL/EFL educators is that students can take control of their learning process, express their ideas and interact with their teachers and other students in their same class or in English speaking countries. Therefore, students are exposed to real language what is really stimulating for them since they feel English is something real and not something they can only use in the English classroom.

But, what is a weblog or blog?

A blog is a free personal website where a person or a group of people usually write posts, include videos, personal opinions, slideshares, links, photos, gadgets, news, I mean, it is like a personal online diary. However, blogs were not created for education but they give teachers a great amount of possibilities to interact with the students, to motivate them with activities the teacher adds to the blog. Blogs have become a collaborative tool for information exchange and reflection on the topics studied in the classroom.

Nevertheless, a blog should not be just something for students to do when a teacher doesn´t know what to do in the classroom but a tool for achieving the persued learning goals. Effective teachers have to give simple and clear explanations if they want their students accomplish the activities in a successful way.

Teachers can use all kind of resources for the activities: videos, photographs, comics, website links for carrying out a researching task, etc. However, teachers have to organize, categorize and order resources to avoid "cognitive overflow". If we ask our students to search information for an specific topic on the net they can get lost since they can find a lot of information on the net but they cannot distinguish between high quality and low quality sources. A blog allows teachers to organize information through categories, structure information in an easy and quick way.

Advantages of using a blog with your ESL/EFL students

1. Teachers can interact with their students in the target language outside the classroom in an easy and fast way.

2. It is a way to give voice to your students to express their opinions, ideas and upload the work they have done in class, for example.

3. Students are actively involved in their learning process.

4. Teachers in non-English speaking countries, thanks to the net, can have access to real material for their classes and include it on the class blog.

5. Teachers can expand their classroom boundaries and their students can go on working wherever they want.

6. Students can get 'feedback' on their works from the teacher.

Ideas to use a blog outside the classroom

1. Divide your students in small groups (3-5 students per group) and ask them to create a blog for publishing the project they have been working on. Create a questionaire to know how your students have worked, if they have enjoyed the activity, what they have learnt, etc.

2. With adult students, you can organize and international classroom language exchange with other English teachers to know cultural similarities and differences with British, French, American or Portugues people, for example.

3. After a reading and discussion in class you can ask your students to create a new story using stripes, they can draw the story or use Toondoo for doing this task. After that, they have to publish them on the blog and other students have to decide which story is the best.

4. After introducing a reading about London city, you can tell your students they are going to London only for three days in July. They have to work in small groups. London is a very big city, therefore, they cannot visit all the interesting places there. They have to decide when are they going to visit London, what kind of clother are they going to take in their suitcases (you can include a link to a weather report website from U.K), what places are they going to visit (include a London guide website), where are they going to stay (bed&breakfasts, hotels, hostels, Inns, etc). They have to interact with the other students to take all these decisions. When they have finished the research, they have to publish a summary on the blog. With this activity they can review vocabulary (clothes, weather) and grammar (going to).

5. You can provide your students with a reading from the web uploading it to the blog and ask them to write a summary.

You can find more information in More Blog Ideas.

Disadvantages of using a blog with your students.

1. Not all students have internet access at home.

2. Not all students have a homogeneous NTIC knowledge.
If you are interested in this topic you should visit this Web 2.0 in the Classroom Blog entry called "Using Blogs to Promote Authentic Learning in the Classroom"and "Blogging for ELT" by Graham Stanley. They really worth!

Would you like to integrate blogs in your English classes? 

You are always welcome to contribute with your ideas!!

Next: Top Ten for Education. Number 3 is for Voicethread.

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