Sunday, July 27, 2014

Reader Question: PhD in another subject but teaching ESL

A question from M.S.

"I have a PhD (not in tefl, in env sci) and am in my late 30s with one year's tefl experience.  Could you please advise me what are my chances for finding employment in a Korean uni teaching English?  Should I find employment elsewhere first to brush up on my tefl (and maybe even look into obtaining a CELTA?)?  I was also wondering about what might the age limits be for English instructors in Korean universities? Thanks for any help you can give, it helps me to plan for my future."

My answer: 

Your chances of finding employment at a Korean university is quite high, but as I've said before on this blog, it's pretty hard to find uni jobs in Korea when you're not actually in the country.  Difficult, but not impossible though.  You could look elsewhere in Korea for a job to get your foot in the door, but working at a hagwon or public school for a year could be a long, long year for someone like yourself.

A Celta is of no use in Korea so don't waste your time on it.

The accepted retirement age in Korea is 60, so you'll be fine.

I think it really is possible for you to get a uni job, but a tough question that you'll probably be asked over and over again is why you have a degree in science but want to teach English.  I can't say that I really understand it myself and Koreans probably won't either. 

That said, there are most definitely some uni jobs out there that are teaching English to science or engineering students, where you teach things like technical English.  And there are also editing jobs that require a science or engineering background, which you could probably also do, assuming your English skills are up to par. I'd definitely try to look for some of those jobs instead of just the general English ones and you'll probably do better.

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