Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Language Exchange

So you've arrived in the country of choice but you are less than fluent in the local language. You have several options;

You could pay for language lessons. It does help especially if you are a low beginner. However, language lessons can be expensive and have inconvenient hours if you are working everyday.

You could decide to do nothing, with the attitude that the language will just come as, after all, you do live there. This option is very possible but know that language acquisition does not come without active participation. That means you actually have to talk... a lot to reach your language speaking goals.

One way that encourages the activity of speaking is a "language exchange". Here you meet with a native of the country where you live who would like to improve their English. You do an hour of English conversation and an hour of the native language. This method is two-fold; You are increasing your exposure to the native language and culture of your new home but also you are meeting people. One of the struggles of living in a foreign country is making friends who are natives as opposed to your fellow English teachers. Regularly meeting with people for the purpose of exchanging language automatically puts us in a potential social situation. You can meet at a cafe, go to an art exhibit together... anything that promotes conversation. Chances are your language exchange friends have other native friends who would like to meet you as well. What could be better?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Setting up in a Foreign Country

How to go about setting up in a foreign country all depends on the country of choice and the desired job. Assuming you want to teach English, it's possible to get practically all the setting up done before you arrive if you want to teach in Japan, Korea or China assuming you have at the minimum a college degree of any discipline. Jobs can be arranged via internet and often jobs locate housing for you. As for the rest of the world, the best jobs are not on the internet, it's often better to go there and search for work.

South-east Asia is probably one of the easiest regions to "show up" and "set up" simply because there is a high demand for English and there is a low cost of living. More specifically, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

While there is a strong demand for English in Central and South America, know that the pay is very low. It is , however, relatively affordable, as well, to show up, locate housing and start up. In fact you should do just that simply because caution should be used when selecting an employer. See the school, try to speak with some of the other teachers and make sure expectations on both sides are clear. More and more, a TEFL/TESOL Certificate will be required.

Speaking of expectations, North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt have a solid demand for English. All the comments mentioned above for the Americas apply here. However, in this region, it is necessary to be even more scrutinizing when it comes to choosing a school. Definitely go online before arrival to find out which schools have good/bad reputations. Secure a contract before you begin working. Promises, in this region, that are too good to be true probably are. Lastly trust your instincts. Using caution in the begining when selecting a school will pay off in the end as this is one of the most exciting regions in the world to spend time.

Western Europe poses the most challenges because the start- up expenses and cost of living are higher as opposed to other countries mentioned above as well as the visa restrictions that apply for Non- EU residents. Despite these obstacles, this part of the world maintains a strong demand for English teachers, however here more than anywhere else it requires you to be active when searching (for both housing and employment)and have TEFL certified to secure employment.

Lastly, Eastern Europe aggresively seeks English teachers and there is support for locating housing. Despite the fact that many Eastern European countries have been added to the EU, currently there are no restrictions on Non-EU residents seeking work. Turkey which balances between Europe and the Middle-east promises university jobs, housing assistance and very good pay for those who posess a TEFL/TESOL Certificate.