As a black person, especially from African, the ESL industry here in Asia can be cruel, it’s a dirty game. I’ve had experiences where agencies screwed me up, some trying to offer me less pay than what other teachers got. I am an experienced ESL teacher, with 3 years’ experience teaching in classroom and 2 years online and I am half way through my BA in TESOL. To get where I am now wasn’t easy and still isn’t, I still have to work extra hard to break grounds. I am from Botswana, a small country next to South Africa, colonized by the British in the late 1800s and left us their language, hence, English being our Official Language. Is my English perfect? Well, If it was, I would be an English professor somewhere with 29 books under my belt, but I am pretty sure I can read, write and speak very well.
Anyways let me get to the main point of this post, I am here to share a few tips that you as an African should consider when you want to do well or join the English teaching industry.
We are ALL already stereotyped to have a very thick accent that is hard to comprehend that even Hollywood is pushing. Your accent will be the first thing that would get the employer’s attention before they get to anything else, that is if ever the give you a call for an interview. A much clearer accent is preferred. Work on it, I for one is still working on that “posh” accent as it helps to pay bills.
2. Qualification & Paperwork
Get your qualifications in check, make sure that you do have at least a bachelor’s degree, TEFL, CELTA or TESOL certificate. Your degree here is very important as it would help leverage on your 120 hours TEFL certificate that you can get in Thailand within 3 weeks and get a chance to get placed in a school and or get resources on how to go about looking for jobs. Get your police clearance from your home country as it will be required when you get your visa done along with your qualifications.
Expats networking is very crucial in Thailand, there is a huge network of Expats especially in the Capital City, Bangkok. Most Expats always know or are looking for people to work with or know of some openings somewhere around the city and or the country, getting in touch does improve your chances of getting a job. Moreover, it is a good community that would help you realise that home is not always where you are from but rather where you belong.
4. Work Hard And Smart
4. Work Hard And Smart
Once you get a job, give it your all, you’ll definitely experience a lot of differences concerning the work ethics, the system, the people and all the like, but your goal here is to work, give it your all so that once you leave you’ll be remembered. Remember, you are representing the whole BLACK community that will come after you. Avoid being around the negative gangs, there will sure be people who will always complain and talk ill about the management, the system and everything around them. If you aren’t happy with your job, work on getting another one in silence. Being black, and especially from AFRICA in Thailand Working System makes it hard for one to get a job as compared to Caucasians, so you don’t want to fuck up your job opportunity and go on a struggle without a job and a visa.
There will sure be some negativity towards you, being shunned down because you are black, being offered way less pay because you are black, being called names because you are black, being offered LEFTOVER jobs because you are black. At this point you have to be in control of your universe, choose whatever it is you find beneficial to you, get rid of the negativity that comes your way. I’ve gotten used to this that I don’t even feel it anymore, I choose whatever I want to affect my life, if it’s something that’s not worth it I just brush it off.
6. Jump on the Opportunity
If this is your first time in Asia as a teacher and you have no idea on how things work, you are running against time and your finances and visas aren’t helping at all, jump on the first opportunity you get and make use of it as your base ground where you will build your network, get your experience and understand the industry. Get to save money and plan your next move to your ideal job.
7. Target the Hiring Season
The hiring seasons are from April and October respectively, I’d advise you to come in April to take you TEFL so that by May it won’t be hard for you to get a job, same goes to the following term, come in October so that by November you are able to get a job faster. If you already have your TEFL I’d advise you to come in May or November, this is the time where schools are very much in need of teachers, so they will be ready to take almost anyone to fill in the posts.
8. Always have your round trip Ticket
Finally, always make sure your round trip is open, why?
- You might need to fly back to Africa go get your VISA done, though some countries around Asia still let some Africans get their work visas, more and more are closing down on us.
- You can’t get a tourist visa anywhere around Asia (Except if you are SOUTH AFRICAN), so you’ll need to fly back to get it done, that is if you still want to give Thailand another try.
- In case it doesn’t work out and you are broke, at least you’ll have your ticket to go back home, better than being stranded in an Asian country where it is already difficult for a black person
All in all, the ESL industry is a bit rough for a BLACK AFRICAN, but with hard work and perseverance you can get to where you want to be. I have been at it for the past 3 years and now I already know the ins and outs to survive and get things done.
I hope some of these tips will help you to get started in becoming an ESL teacher. I am learning each day to perfect my skills, so should you.
If you are keen on getting more of this in videos, you can check my YouTube Series on TEACHING ENGLING IN THAILAND AS A BLACK AFRICAN
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