We’re nearly at the end of November. The ski hills are open outside Vancouver, and the lucky folks in the southern hemisphere are heading into summer.
In this month’s issue of Teach Away Telegram, we’ll talk about ways to impress potential employers and increase your hiring potential with schools abroad. We’ll then follow up on the last issue’s post on the Top 5 iPhone Apps for ESL Teachers and give you the Top 5 Android Apps. Finally, we’ll take a look at our country spotlight for November, the UAE.
Prospective Teachers: Increase Your Marketability
With the number of overseas teachers growing every year, applicants need to make themselves as competitive as possible. How can you ensure that you make an impression?
1. Earn qualifications – This first point seems obvious, but you’ll need different qualifications depending on the position you’re hoping to obtain. A number of positions are available only to licensed teachers, with others requiring a TEFL certificate, and still others requiring both! Browse jobs that interest you and check out their average requirements. Are you a reasonably good fit?
If you don’t already have a TEFL certification, consider taking a course, as this is increasingly becoming a standard requirement. Teach Away is partnered with the University of Toronto in offering TEFL Online, a 100-hour self-paced course. If you’re looking to improve your qualifications, check it out—a certificate from the University of Toronto provides a boost to any resume.
2. Understand your reasons for going abroad – Everyone has different motivations for wanting to teach overseas. Are you motivated by the thought of a particular location—for example, you’re extremely interested in Abu Dhabi—or are you excited by the prospect of traveling to any new country? Do you want to add to your resume, or are you looking for a change? Whatever your reasons, make sure you understand them and that you can clearly articulate them when interviewing with a school.
3. Travel – Teaching abroad is, of course, an excellent opportunity for those looking to travel. However, if you’ve never done much traveling, signing a one-year contract halfway across the world is a big leap. Short-term traveling is good experience and can help you pinpoint the things you love about being abroad, as well as aspects that might pose a difficult adjustment. Travel experience shows employers that you’re able to step outside the box and adjust to different environments.
4. Volunteer – For those whose resumes lack experience, volunteering is a great way to gain experience while giving back to worldwide communities. The requirements for volunteer positions are generally a bit more lax (you can usually find a position that doesn’t require a teaching certification), but the practice and knowledge you’ll gain can be equal to a paid position. Gain international experience by participating in a meaningful opportunity abroad. For teachers looking to add to their resumes, Teach Away offers volunteer opportunities in Georgia and Chile.
5. Learn the language – Granted, this one is more of a long-term effort, but learning at least the basics of the language can give you a leg up on other candidates by proving your dedication. Show schools that you can go the extra mile and that you’re committed to living in their country. And of course, any knowledge of the language will help you once you’re living abroad!
The Top 5 Android Apps for ESL Teachers
In our last newsletter, we reviewed the Top 5 iPhone Apps for ESL Teachers. This month, we’re reviewing apps for Android—although, as many of these are cross-platform, iPhone users can treat this as a bonus.
1. Edmodo – If you don’t already have an Edmodo account, signing up is free. Edmodo lets teachers connect with students and share information. It’s social media for the classroom: create groups, write messages, post and grade assignments, and keep track of everything on a classroom calendar. The Facebook-style layout makes the design fairly intuitive for students in countries where Facebook is popular.
2. MeeGenius – MeeGenius is suited for early readers. An eBook site for children, MeeGenius gives kids the choice of reading by themselves or being read to by a narrator while the story words are highlighted on the screen. The narrator option is great for children who are just beginning to read. MeeGenius can be great if you’re in a school without many resources. Unfortunately for teachers, each book costs money (although prices are reasonable).
3. Advanced English & Thesaurus – A more intuitive dictionary: this app groups related nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. Words are grouped into synonyms and linked to other synonyms, similar words, and antonyms. Hyperlinks in the page let students get examples of word usage for better understanding.
4. Famigo Sandbox – If you’re wary about the idea of handing your phone or tablet over to your students, Sandbox is your answer. When Sandbox is running, children (or adults!) can only access the apps you’ve specified, and users can’t exit the app without entering a password. Sandbox lets you customize what you want to make available and recommends other kid-friendly educational apps as well.
5. Any.DO – A to-do list app with a clean, unencumbered interface, AnyDO allows you to share lists with friends and colleagues. Any.DO is great for personal use and shared projects. Keep your to-do list with you at all times, and let Any.DO remind you when items are due.
Country spotlight: UAE
Famous for its luxurious modern cities, and historically rooted in Bedouin lifestyle, the modern UAE is fascinatingly dynamic and complex. Located on the Gulf, the UAE consists of seven emirates. While Abu Dhabi is the capital—and is gaining increasing popularity as a cultural center—Dubai usually steals the attention as one of the world’s flashiest modern locations. The UAE is extremely diverse, with the largest immigrant population in the world: less than 20% of the population is made of native Emiratis.
Explore the country’s Islamic traditions while enjoying ultra-modern amenities. Though the UAE is fairly liberal in comparison to its Middle Eastern neighbors, foreign visitors should consider ways to adapt to the local culture: this includes dressing modestly and keeping displays of affection private. Alcohol is widely available to non-Muslims in all emirates except Sharjah. Friday is the holy day in this Islamic country, meaning that weekends in the UAE are not what we are used to in the West.
The UAE also houses no shortage of designer shopping centers, luxury hotels, and clubs. The UAE’s gulf beaches are popular—even heavily populated Dubai boasts a number of near-pristine shorelines.
Teaching jobs in Abu Dhabi or Dubai offer competitive salaries and benefits, and teachers in the UAE enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. For more information about working in the UAE, check out the latest teaching job postings.