Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tips before Heading to Morocco

For those of you planning to go to Morocco for a visit or longer, I have provided some information that should be helpful. As well as I hope this will motivate you to discover more about Morocco.

1. Some Basics

Respecting the Culture of Morocco is the best way to avoid unpleasant situations and misunderstandings. I’d like to call this piece “For best results…"

Tipping in Morocco is expected for just about any service rendered. As a rule of thumb leave 10% in restaurants however for other services such carrying your bags, five to ten dirham is sufficient. A special note, if you plan to take photos of the locals, you should definitely ask first. And it is possible that you will be asked for a tip as well.

While Alcohol is mostly easily attainable; don’t assume that all bars and restaurants will serve it. As Islam forbids alcohol consumption, there is a certain level of restriction. The best places to look are supermarkets where you can buy beer and wine as well as expensive restaurants or those catering to foreigners.

Ramadan is a month long period where from dusk to dawn, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex. Every year the dates change as Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. In the evenings, families get together and have a big feast. How this affects you is restaurants open for meals/drinks may be hard to come by during this period.

Women Travelers should plan to cover up especially if traveling without a man. Bear in mind that legs and shoulders are considered private body parts in Morocco and really both men and women should keep these areas covered. Long sleeved tops that don’t show cleavage and pants or long skirts will help you a great deal. Yes, of course while you can wear whatever you want, know that you will receive a lot of unwanted attention. You will be treated how you are dressed, therefore if you would like to be treated with respect, dress modestly. When approached with unwanted advances/ offers always politely decline. While I suggest you be assertive and mean it, using profane language or yelling will only make the situation worse.

Mosques and holy places are forbidden to non Muslims. The exceptions are Hassan II in Casablanca, Mohammed V Mausoleum in Rabat and the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum in Meknes.

2. Shopping in the Souks

Often I come across travelers who are experiencing, what I call, misunderstandings, when shopping in the souks and I think this often comes from ignorance of culture on both sides. Yes, that of the traveler as well as that of the native. First and foremost, even amongst each other, Moroccans haggle, or rather, negotiate for all most everything they need or want. Therefore it is only natural that they will expect you to do the same. Before buying anything, have a look around, find out what others spent on a particular item and then give it a shot. Know the absolute most you are prepared to spend and be prepared to leave if you’re not happy with the final price. Do accept mint tea in the spirit in which it is given and discuss price with a light heart. If the shopkeeper lets you walk away without lowering his offer, he was most likely giving you a fair price.

No matter which souks in the country you visit, I would suggest you go without a guide even in Fes which is considered to be one of the more intricate souks. It really does add to the experience. However, understand that by wandering around guideless, you will attract many kindhearted Moroccans offering you their services as a guide. My best advice to minimize this is to get there early at about 9 am. Not all shops will be open so you’ll have an easier time orienting yourself as well as few guides and would be guides are out yet. Also when asked, if you need a guide, mention that you have been in the city of choice for two or three days and you already had a guide. If you find yourself hopelessly lost and are ready to get out of the labyrinth, you can always get a young person to show you the way out for a small fee.

3. Recommended Places to Visit

Where you decide to go depends on the type of experience you are looking for. However, I would suggest for the first time visitor to Morocco/North Africa, to visit some if not all of the Imperial cities which include Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes and Fes. While it is most likely that if you arrive by plane you will arrive in Casablanca, I don’t think you should stay there too long. Unlike the other cities I have mentioned, Casablanca is not an artisan center, therefore many cultural aspects are lost to the visitor who is staying for just a visit as well as there are few remnants of traditional Morocco. That said, if you do happen to find yourself there even for only the afternoon, I suggest you visit Hassan II Mosque, the world’s third largest mosque.

As for the other four cities I mentioned, each provides a different atmosphere and are good introductions to the country for the newcomer and are mostly set up to receive foreign visitors. Each offers specialty crafts unique to the region as well as they are good bases for off the beaten path travel. Every city has its specialties; Rabat, for its embroidery and carpets, Meknes, for its wood carvings, metal inlay and mosaics, Fez, most famous for its leatherwork and famous blue pottery and Marrakesh for its leatherwork as well as spices and Berber carpets. And I have barely scratched the surface of what can be found.

4. Getting Around

One of the best choices for getting around Morocco is by train. It’s inexpensive and mostly comfortable. The only real difference between first class and second is that sometimes second class has no air-con. You can view accurate train schedules at

Even less expensive than the train is bus travel which is well connected but for longer journeys you risk a high level of discomfort as there is often not much legroom. You can also opt for taking a Grand Taxi from one city to the next but know that unless you’re a big group willing to pay for the entire taxi, you wait until the driver fills the taxi with six people. And also, the taxi does not necessarily leave you in the center of town; it’s usually on the outskirts.

5. Expenses and Safety

ATMS are plentiful and secure in large and medium/small cities. Now there are even bank machines that will except banknotes in dollars, euros and sterling and return the conversion equivalent to you in dirham in a matter of minutes.

Concerning safety as compared to many other countries where I have traveled, I see Morocco as relatively safe country as long as one uses some common sense. For example, outside of the main squares and populated areas don’t walk alone at night. Always keep the majority of your money/credit cards under your clothing in the form of a money belt and when in especially crowded areas pay extra attention to your belongings, such as a camera etc.

Always avoid people offering to take you to a hotel, shop or restaurant. They usually are getting a kickback for bringing you there so you will be charged more than if you showed up on your own. As well as offers for a city tour especially if you don’t know where they intend to take you. As a rule of thumb, either tell people that this is your second visit to Morocco or that you have been in the said city for several days already so you know your way around.

With all this said I find Morocco to be both a fascinating but culturally demanding country for the visitor. Therefore, to allow yourself to enjoy Morocco to its fullest, I strongly suggest you bend to the demands of this country’s customs and consider the points I have given as “For best results…”

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Recent Testimonials

Hear what recent graduates have to say about the course.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

How Difficult is it, really, to Find a Teaching Job in France?

As of late, I am being asked this question a lot. So let's have a look at the facts...

Yes, it's true that France in general is grappling with a high unemployment rate. This situation is not much different from it's neighbors such as Spain, Germany and Italy. This fact alone is not really a good indicator of job-finding success in ESL positions as the demand within this field does not fluctuate with the employment rate. Rather, ESL jobs are dependent on the demand for English in a given country. That said, in comparision with its neighbors forementioned and many other countries, there is a lower demand for English in France.

This situation is gradually changing right before our eyes as now there are certain regions/cities that are developing a strong demand for English, especially Business English. Cities where one can most easily find a teaching job are, Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Nice(including the region surrounding Nice)Toulouse comes in somewhere behind these.

The issue for cities like Paris and Lyon is that they are big and the cost of living is high. This brings with it the problems of finding decent affordable housing as well as the "mentality" of living a large metropolis.

For those of you, looking for jobs in smaller cities especially in the south, there are still jobs available however it will take a little more time and energy to find the position right for you. On the flip side, you will enjoy the more relaxed attitude in the smaller cities, lower prices, more choice in affordable housing options and a bit more helpful population of French people.

Bear in mind that when I say "small city" I am not refering to towns, little villages or hamlets. While these places embody the spirit of the French lifestyle, if the goal is to find a job, these are the places to be avoided. There is just not enough demand to sustain language schools.

As far as salary, expect to make between 1,200 and 1,600 euros per month if you have a contract position. Compared to other contries, the start up here takes a bit longer but once settled things here fall into place and you can begin to enjoy life in France. For more on this subject see our post,"How to Teach English in France" under the same category.

Monday, July 30, 2007

ESL Job Hunt in Morocco

Long are the days of Morocco being solely a Francophone country. With Marrakech alone, having the goal of ten million tourists visiting by 2010, now more than ever English is in high demand and this is not limited to Marrakech.

Before starting out, be sure to obtain a TEFL/TESOL Certificate which is required for securing a job. Visit our site for more information on certification. Once you've successfully completed your certification, finding well-paid work should not be difficult in cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat and Fes. However, it is strongly suggested that you come to Morocco to find the right job for you. Often by email, we, ESL teachers, are given great promises before we come only to find upon arrival that they are far from true. Doing your job search on site helps distinguish fact from fiction as well as getting a feel for the country and the culture.

To start, you can locate schools in a given city, by looking at the on-line yellow pages or esl job search engines. You can either send a resume and cover letter beforehand to arrange interviews or show up, visit schools and arrange interviews then. What's most important is do not accept any post without visiting the school first and talking to at least one or two of the teachers who work there.

Below is a list of reputable schools we found;

American Academy
American Language Center
Amideast Morocco
British Center
British Council Morocco
Business and Professional English Center - BPEC
Casablanca American School
George Washington Academy
Lingua plus
Pigier Maroc

American Language Institute
Amicitia American School of Fes

Al Akhawayn University

American Language Center

American Language Center
Amideast Morocco
British Council Morocco
International Language Lab Center
Language Lab
Rabat American School

Lingua plus

English College of Tangier Chams School
The American School of Tangier

English Language Institute of Tetouan

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Is a TESOL/TEFL Course Right for You?

As most people already know The TESOL(Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) Certificate is designed to allow native English speakers to travel to different parts of the world (where English is in demand) and teach English. The biggest benefit is you can travel and see the world and earn money along the way to support this travel lust. All of this is essentially true however what I have defined above is not for everyone. Or more specifically, not for everyone's goals.

Who is this Certifcate for?

Native or Near Native English speakers 21 or over in good health

I use the age of 21 because in many countries, a university degree is required for being issued a work visa. However this is not the case for all countries. Although it may require you to work a bit harder in some countries to find a job.

There is no age limit as long as the person in question is in good physical and mental condition. Almost every course, we get a few people over fifty which adds to the quality of the course.

People who want to live in a country other than their own

The TESOL Certificate really is designed to teach in a non-native English speaking country. That said, due to the lack of ESOL teachers in the United States and England, it is possible to find an ESL position in your home country provided you agree to continue your education in the field. I do have former expatriate friends who have returned home and found positions without much difficulty.

People who are able to spend at least one year in a given country and teach English

The idea of travelling the world and teaching English conjures up romantic images for many people. They imagine themselves as free spirits who are in one country one day and who could end up in a completely different part of the world the next.

While a lot of that is true, know that teaching contracts are typically one year, sometimes two. Yes contracts can be broken but if you are some one who chronically leaves after a few months, you'll find it increasingly difficult to get the next job. Yes, contracts cramp our inner free sprit but understand that there are few countries that offer short term work (3-4 months)that pays. Plan to commit to at least a year in one place.

People who want an ESL teaching position to support only themselves and maybe one other person

We do not join the ESL biz to become rich or to support an entire family by ourselves. We do it to spend a long time outside of our home country. That said no matter which country we look at, ESL teachers are well-paid as is proportionate to the standard of living in the host country. It is enough to live comfortably on for one person, maybe two, assuming the second person is not too demanding.

People who just want to teach a little English and travel, that's all

If you are looking to climb a corporate ladder, rest assured there isn't one in the ESL jungle. Well, let's just say it's a short one. What this means is, don't take an ESL position expecting promotions, significant pay raises and title positions. You will be hired as a teacher and after a few years you will still be a teacher. Yes, its possible to rise to head teacher and get a little more money. It is possible to get more trainning and make attempts at being a director of studies but that is about it along the direct line from English teacher.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Join our Network of ESL Teachers Abroad

Monday, May 14, 2007

Visa Information for non-EU People who Want to Work in France

Filing Application for a Long- Stay Visa
For a period of longer than three months

Where to Apply for a Visa from Abroad?


Consulat General de France
New York

934 Fifth Avenue
New York NY 10021


Consulat General de France

3475 Piemont Road, NE
Suite 1840
Atlanta, GA 30305


Consulat General de France

Park Square Building
31 Saint James Avenue
Suite 750
Boston, MA 02116


Consulat General de France

737 North Michigan Ave.
Suite 2020
Chicago, Il 60611-2694


Consulat General de France

777 Post Oak Boulevard
Suite 600
Houston, Texas 77056


Consulat General de France
New Orleans

Amoco Building
1340 Poydras Street
Suite 1710
New Orleans LA 70112


Consulat General de France
Los Angeles

10990 Wiltshire Boulevard,Suite 300
Los Angeles, California


Consulat General de France

1, Biscayne Tower- suite 1710
2 south Biscayne Boulevard
Miami FL 33131


Consulat General de France
San Francisco

540 Bush Street
San Francisco CA 94108


Consulat General de France

4101 Reservoir Road N.W.
Washington D.C. 20007



Ambasade de France

6 Perth Avenue
Yarralumla- ACT 2600


Consulat General de France

Level 26- Saint Martin's Tower
31 Market Street
Sydney, NSW 2000


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Embracing Language without Language Lessons

So you've found yourself in your country of choice but you don't exactly speak the language. I've been there and still am. I've already suggested the "Language Exchange". This post, I'm going to talk about the "Act of Participation". Another great way to acquire the language needed is to do something you already enjoy or something you want to learn in a group setting.(It has to be with native speakers:)

I strongly suggest joining clubs that do things that you already have an interest in or something that is connected with the culture of the country of choice. When choosing a club, be sure to choose something that is not too physical. For example, I take Capoiera( a brasillian self-defense art form), it's very physical so we don't actually speak often when we do it, at least not in complete sentences. Therefore, it's great for my body but not for my French.

However, I also belong to a wine club. While the folks there are a little stuffy, there is nothing to do but talk and well of course drink wine. So great for my French but, in the long run, probably bad for my body.(We drink A LOT of wine in one night)

No matter what type of groups you join, all are good for meeting new people, making new friends and networking(making friends with the friends of the people you meet in your club). It can't hurt... well it should'nt anyway.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Scenes from France

While France is a small country, it's diversity astounds. Below are a couple of albums of some of the places we visit during our teacher training sessions as well as showing you the possibilites just in the south of France.

The Language House
Chateauneuf du Pape with Travel Med Tours and The Language House

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Obtaining a Student Visa

Students from outside Europe (that is, students from countries other than the 18 countries of the European Economic Zone, plus Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, San Marino, and the Vatican) must obtain a long-term visa marked étudiant if they intend to study in France for more than 6 months.
After the first year of study, visas are automatically renewed, provided the student holding the visa is able to produce the required documentation.

Three Pieces of Advice

1 - A tourist visa cannot be converted into a student visa in France or in any other country of the European Union.

2- If you plan to complete two programs in succession (such as a program in French as a foreign language, followed by an academic program), obtain admission to both programs before applying for your visa so that your visa will be valid for the duration of your period of study. French visas can not be extended in France.

3- A special visa exists for prospective students. The so-called étudiant-concours visa is granted for stays of no more than 90 days for the purpose of taking an entrance examination or visiting institutions of higher education. Prospective students who pass their examination receive a full student visa without returning to their country of origin. The prospective student visa also may be granted to students whose admission to a higher education institution is contingent upon their completion of a short course of remedial or refresher work.
To obtain a visa, visit the French consulate in your place of residence or the visa office of the French embassy.

Two Points to Remember

•Under no circumstances may a tourist visa be converted into a student visa. This is true throughout the European Union.

•International students of all nationalities intending to stay in France for more than 3 months must obtain a student identification card.

What documentation do I need to get a visa?

- A Passport
The passport must be valid for the entire period of validity of the visa.

- Proof of enrollment
The following documents will be accepted as proof:
• An offer of preliminary admission
• A statement of preregistration in a public or private institution of higher education. The document must specify the level of study and the student's subject. If the institution is private, the statement must indicate the number of course hours and state that registration fees have been been paid in full.

- Proof of financial resources
Each French embassy sets the level of financial resources to be demonstrated by prospective students from that country. The amount is on the order of 3,000 francs
( about 450 euros) for each month to be spent in France.

•Students receiving scholarship grants must produce a statement indicating the amount and duration of their grant on the letterhead of the granting organization.

•If the required resources are guaranteed by an individual residing in France the student must produce a signed statement of financial responsibility, a photocopy of the national identity card of the guarantor, and proof of the guarantor's own financial resources (such as the guarantor's three most recent pay stubs and most recent tax return).

•If the resources come from abroad, the student must demonstrate that a bank account has been opened into which the necessary funds will be deposited and produce a promise of payment, translated into French and bearing the authenticated signature of the individual responsible for making the payments, or a statement of payment of funds from the authorities of the student's country of origin.

- Proof of insurance coverage
Proof of insurance must be provided by students over 28 who are nationals of a country that does not have a reciprocity agreement with France or who are enrolled in an institution that is not recognized by the French government to participate in the student health insurance plan.

- Parental authorization
Minors (individuals under 18 years of age) must furnish proof of consent by the person or persons having parental authority.

- Required vaccinations
In some cases, the consulate may require proof of vaccination (e.g., against yellow fever, cholera…) before a visa will be issued.

International students of all nationalities residing in France for more than 3 months must obtain a student residency permit (which is distinct from a visa), within two months of their arrival in France

Complying with legal requirements once in France

As soon as you arrive in France, you'll want to take two important steps to comply with French immigration regulations. The sooner you get these formalities out of the way, the smoother and more pleasant your stay will be.

1 - Report to your new university or school and register for classes.

2 - Apply for a student residency permit (if you will be staying for longer than 3 months.
Pay close attention to the documents that you will have to present. Originals are often required. All students must report and register each year. The procedure is the same in all universities. In nonuniversity institutions of higher education it differs from institution to institution.

Your Residency Permit

The second thing you'll have to do once you arrive is apply for your residency permit. All international students must obtain such a permit, even those who are entitled to reside in France without a visa.
International students who intend to study in France for more than 3 months must visit the préfecture (or government center) for their area to obtain a temporary residency permit showing their student status. The temporary residency permit is valid until the expiration date of the applicant's passport or until the date of completion of the applicant's academic program, whichever comes first. The permit must be renewed annually.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The E.U. verses Non E.U. Question

First things first, the E.U. question. Yes, it's true, you must hold an E.U. passport to qualifiy for any job position in the territory. Unlike its neighbors, Spain & Italy, the French mostly follow this rule.

However, it is still possible work in France if you are non E.U. if have can obtain the "Carte Sejour". As a non E.U. person, the easiest option is to enroll in a French language school in France. Once enrolled, the language school will issue you an "attestation" stating that you have committed to lessons with them and you can use it to get a student visa. The student visa allows you to work 15 hours a week. At the end of your visa, for however long it is, if you have a job at that moment you can renew your visa as a carte sejour. With this you can legally work full-time. This is probably the easiest route no matter what your age.

If you have mastered the French language and/or have absolutely no interest in long term lessons of any kind, the other option is to become a "Profession Liberale". It means a free-lance professional. While you can do this in any domain, "English Teacher" is probably the easiest to break into as you are a native English speaker, so it will tempt potential clients to choose you over a French person. To do this you apply for a long term visa, similar to the student visa process but longer, stating that you will support yourself as a Profession Liberale. Once in France you can register yourself with URSSAF the government entity that oversees profession liberales. The registration is actually the easiest part of this entire process. Then you are free to start looking for work. BUT, looking for work means looking directly for clients. You're not going to be able to work for a language school unless it's a short term contract deal. You are working for yourself so it would demand a high level of French. So again, if you're not there yet on the French, opt for the student visa choice:)

All in all, the E.U. issue does'nt have to be an obstacle to living and working in France. However, it does mean that more work and money will be required just to set up. Also know that there is no way to avoid the visa paperwork in your home country before coming to France and without a doubt, it will continue when you arrive.

How to Teach English in France

Where to start...

Finding an ESL teaching position in France is not the same as in many other countries. It requires more rigor during the job search and some significant money for the start-up. Despite France's high unemployment rate, it is however possible to secure a job but it will take a longer to find.

France is not the country to live and work in if you want to spontaneously show up and immediately earn cash. You need a game plan. The first component is where in France, do you want to based? If you want an ESL job, it means you must chose a city where there is a demand for English. Unfortunately, the small romantic village in the middle of the country, where most of us would love to live, has a population with an average age of 60. That means low demand for work, let alone English. You want to be based or live near a large city. Paris is ideal and offers by far the most options for jobs. However, many people don't want to live in a city so large. If you are one of these people, here is the criteria for a workable city(not village)almost anywhere in the world.

1. It has a university- University towns equate with young adults who might need English for their studies, for a semester abroad or just because they enjoy speaking with foreigners.

2. It has an economic center that depends on the international community- Cities with office parks for technology or transportation, for example, are good because it insures a base of young professionals who need English for their job.

3. It is a dynamic city- Cities that are/and promote a cosmopolitan attitude are best because ultimately our potential clients are people who are interested in foreigners or foreign things. Cities or towns where there are already a lot of foreigners and where there is constant change for improvement are ideal.

Next, arm yourself with the appropriate qualifications. As a general rule, ESL employers look for a college degree of any discipline and a TEFL/TESOL certificate. Yes while there are exceptions, lacking one or both of these items makes your task woefully more difficult. For those of you who already have qualifications for teaching in main stream education in your home country, French employers typically disregard them unless said qualifications were obtained in France. (I didn't make the rules...don't shoot the messenger)

With credentials obtained, you would next incorporate them in a C.V. written in French. In most other countries in the world, that I know of, where English is in demand, this is not neccessary... a C.V. in English would be suitable. At any rate, I suggest you have a C.V. and cover letter professionally translated if you are not fluent in French.

Lastly, get the English language school addresses for your target town and send them out. Hiring times are early September, late March/early April. Forget looking for a job in the summer, its vacation time in France.

Ironically, even though a C.V. should be written in French, it is most likely possible that the interview can or will be conducted in English. So you don't need to be a fluent French speaker to get or hold an ESL job.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


- TESOL a guide towards a Teaching English career -

TESOL is the abbreviated form of an internationally acknowledged diploma course.The full form is Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages. This degree willenable you to become a teacher to the mass whose native tongue is not English. Thiscourse will train you in the basic approaches; prime teaching methods and learningtechniques to teach English effectively to foreign pupils with diverse studentprofiles and dissimilar requirements.


The acronyms TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (TeachingEnglish to Speakers of Other Languages) can often be confusing. Both terms are usedinterchangeably and effectively mean the same thing. In both cases, the aim isteaching English to those whose first language is not English, worldwide.

A TESOL Qualification adds to your worth

Most countries consider a TESOL certification a pre-requisite to securing a jobas a teacher in the English language.
The TESOL training program familiarizes you with systematic lesson plans,effective classroom management and efficient teaching techniques.
Your fundamental knowledge of the language and grammar skills is furtherstrengthened before facing a classroom of learners.
The program brings out your best teaching skills, and the training imparted givesyou hands on teaching experience.
There is a great demand worldwide for TESOL teachers and this opens a whole newvista of career opportunities.

Teaching Prospects after TESOL

Many primary schools, high schools, colleges and universities require qualifiedEnglish language instructor. Having a TESOL certificate can brighten up yourprospect as an English teacher around the globe.

The best career option for a new TESOL pass out is in the domain of a privateschool where you can teach both grown ups and kids usually through conversation.

You may even get lucky as a teacher in a business house. Here you only have totoil for one to two hours each week.

Private tuition is another option if you can set up a group of students. Here youhave to interact with your students directly.

The icing on the cake is that you can travel and see the world while you earn.The countries that you can visit and teach English with your TESOL qualificationinclude Japan, Vietnam, South Korea , China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan in Asia;Turkey, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Poland in Europe; and Chile, Peru, Brazil andArgentina in South America, amongst others.

Other TESOL Advantages

The vital reward is your right to use the available information, seek aid andassistance even after finishing your graduation long ago. You are admitted to enterthe worldwide job databases, seek information about recruitments, and look forguides to different countries and more. You can benefit from discussion forums, canshare concepts and ideas or seek help through Internet chat rooms. You can make yourclasses better by downloading array of resources and ideas for ensuing lessons.

If you're thinking of a teaching Englishcareer,
you'll find more interesting">TESOL,">TEFL and">TESL
related articles at">