How to Start a Career English Teaching
Preparation is Important
|Sydney, Australia. Photo courtesy
With its abundance of untouched beaches, outback, and friendly atmosphere, no wonder Australia is a popular place to continue a career in international English language teaching.
But returning to work in Australia after five years in Europe, I was surprised by the competition for permanent positions. Only five years ago the Australian government was listing TEFL as a profession needed by the
country and teachers were relocating on a permanent basis.
Now this has changed. One reason is that universities have responded to the surge in international students by offering pre-university access language courses as part of the curriculum. As a result, there are now fewer
independent language schools than before.
And with the flood of local and international teaching talent, Australian language schools have raised the standards in qualifications. Most teachers at language schools have a CELTA or ESL diploma at a minimum. At
universities and TAFEs (colleges of further education), MAs and work experience are required.
However, don’t be put off. I picked up a casual contract with a BA degree and RSA and five years' teaching experience within days. I found that it is important to write a full CV, long and detailed, listing all
the types of courses you’ve ever taught, textbooks used and how many hours on average you taught per week. It’s also worth having a reference or two in your employment dossier.
Being an all-rounder who had taught a bit of everything meant I was also able to teach “access to further education” courses either at universities or at independent higher education institutes. The courses
involve both language training and an introduction to the core subjects. Courses have often been developed in advance; the teacher’s job is to deliver the lectures and grade tests.
There is a set teaching salary scale throughout Australia and the field is highly regulated. Pay ranges from AU$20-$40 per hour in language schools to AU$70 per hour at universities and TAFEs. Compared to the minimum
wage, AU$11 per hour, this is not bad. Salaries are calculated on qualifications, number of hours taught, and experience.
The deciding factor on whether to move and teach down under is likely to be the visa. Some, like the 12-month working holiday visa, are temporary; others can lead to permanent citizenship. Details are on the Department
of Immigration website below.
Since the application process can present many individual questions for those planning to permanently relocate, it’s not unusual to enlist the help of an overseas immigration agent or immigration specialist.
An immigration agent helps with the visa application and charges only for this service. He or she will also assist with the application for a suitable visa, answer any questions about the process, and serve as an unpaid
overseas recruitment consultant.
Immigration agents provide information about the state you are interested in living in, advice on house prices, investments, finances, etc.—the kind of knowledge that is invaluable for a smooth transition. There
are very few websites or information resources here that can help with all the tasks involved in getting set up. Getting to know people and the city you work in takes time. Without a credit history, it can be tedious. It requires a lot
of researching to find a bank, insurance company, and accountant prepared to look at your overseas records. We managed it, but it was hard work.
It is also better to have your qualifications, if education-based, formally recognized and translated into the Australian equivalent before you arrive. This can improve your chances of beginning work as a teacher immediately.
The Australian Education International—National Office
of Overseas Skills Recognition provides information on how to get post-secondary overseas academic qualifications recognized in Australia.