4 career moves for enthusiastic teachers

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Career progression in ELT

Have you been teaching for a number of years and are looking for ways to challenge yourself and share your experience and passion with others?

Many of us would love the opportunity to progress in our careers and try new things but have no idea how to get started.

So, let’s look at a number of potential jobs out there for English Language teachers, find out what they involve and how you can improve your chances of getting a foot in the door.

1. Materials Writing

For those with a passion for writing and an eye for detail, ELT materials development could be for you. While writing can be hard to get into, there are a number of ways to get involved – especially if you are persistent and build a portfolio.

Here are some of our top tips for aspiring materials writers:

  • Create your own materials in class and think of ways of adapting the current materials you use for different ages or levels.
  • Share the materials you make with other teachers and get them to give you feedback.
  • Review materials for a publisher. Not only will you start to think more critically, if you do a good job they might commission you to do some writing for them. One way to find out about these opportunities is by signing up to their newsletters or following them on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Start a blog and share lesson tips, advice and activities with other teachers. If it becomes popular enough someone from a publisher might spot you and invite you along for an interview.
  • Join the ELT Teacher 2 Writer database where you can create an account and publishers can contact you directly if they are interested in your profile.
  • Finally, write as much as possible – and get people to read your work. Listen to their feedback and take steps to constantly improve your output. You get better and faster at it at the same time.

Read more about this in our recent article: How to get into materials writing: six authors share their advice.

2. Examining

If you like teaching exam classes, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy examining too. Training to be a speaking examiner is a great way to earn some extra money and can also help you gain a deeper understanding of test formats and mark schemes. This will certainly also benefit your students in the future too.

Specific requirements for examiners vary depending on the exam board. However, as a rule of thumb, you need a lot of experience teaching the level you wish to examine at. Here is an example job advert from Pearson English outlining the experience and competencies needed to be a PTE General Examiner.

You can also check out the recruitment sites from Cambridge Assessment English, IELTS and Trinity to get more of an idea if you are eligible.

Like materials writing, examining can be very competitive so here is some advice so to help you get started:

  • Teach more exam classes. The more variety and levels you do, the more opportunities you’ll have.
  • Familiarize yourself with the mark schemes to give you a deeper understanding of the way examiners think. Most of this information can be found in teacher handbooks like this one for the Cambridge B2 First exam.
  • Help organize mock exams at your school. This will give you valuable experience examining as well as organizing students and materials.
  • Start as an invigilator for written exams. If you do a good job, it’ll show that you are competent and you’ll learn more about how exam days are structured.
  • Contact your local exam center and introduce yourself. And who knows? They might even be recruiting!

Learn more about Pearson assessments on our blog.

3. Academic Management

Another common career goal for long-term English teachers is to become an Academic Manager or Director of Studies (DoS). A successful DoS assumes many roles; often having to organize teachers’ schedules, deal with students’ concerns, come up with new courses, and find cover (or teach) classes at the last minute. They may also need to help out with the marketing and business side of the school, too.  

A lot of academic managers are employed internally, so get involved with what is going on at your school and apply for smaller coordination positions to see if it’s something you enjoy.

You can also try:

  • Offering to help with placement testing of new students. This will help you get to know the type of students at your school and the objectives they have, and also learn more about the levels and courses on offer.
  • Not limiting yourself to teaching one kind of course. If you work at an academy that offers courses for young learners, teens, adults, exam preparation, business etc., try them all. A good DoS should be able to offer advice to all the teachers.
  • Taking a course – most academic managers will be expected to have an advanced TEFL qualification like a DELTA, an MA TESOL or something similar. There are also specific leadership and management courses available for those who want to specialize in this area such as the International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM) or Leadership in ELT.
  • Offering creative ideas or constructive criticism to the current management team about how the school runs and what you think could be even better.
  • Organizing an event for teachers and students to show you are interested and have the type of skills that are needed.
  • Apply for academic management positions in summer schools to give you a taste of what’s to come.

Want to learn more about being a DoS? Read our post: 10 ways to make the move from teacher to Director of Studies.

4. Teacher Training

If you are interested in teaching methodologies and sharing your knowledge with others, but not keen on the admin side of things, then teacher training might be for you.

As a teacher trainer, you may be required to run workshops on a variety of topics, observe teachers and offer feedback and help with lesson planning. This means it’s key that you can listen to others carefully and explain things in a clear way.

Here are some ideas to give you a better chance of finding work as a teacher trainer:

  • Organize informal workshops at your school. Encourage teachers to share ideas that have worked well for them with the rest of the staff.
  • Try team teaching where you and a colleague teach a class together. It’s a great way to learn from each other and give your students a new experience.
  • Practice giving feedback by doing peer observations with other teachers.
  • Submit a proposal for a conference (here are 10 you can choose from) to see if you enjoy presenting.
  • Mentor a new teacher at your school.
  • Take an advance teaching qualification to boost your knowledge.
  • Find teaching work in a school that also run their own initial teaching qualifications like the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL. If you impress the DoS with your teaching skills – they may recommend you get involved with the teacher training department.

Where to apply for jobs

The best place to look for new opportunities is often at the school where you currently work. Start by trying new things and showing an interest in the day-to-day running of the organization. Once you’ve got the attention of the management it will be easier to negotiate a new position. However, if you work at a small school, where there are fewer chances to grow professionally, think about moving to a new school.

Other good places to look for new positions include:

So, whichever way you want to take your career, we wish you luck. And make sure to let us know how it goes in the comments.

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