Is Oxford Seminar Worth It?
August 18, 2006 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Will an Oxford Seminars course on teaching English abroad translate into a job?

My sister wants to teach English abroad. Here in Canada, its a popular thing to do and services are starting to line up on campus for the annual recruiting drive. (She is almost finished a 4 year degree and will have it before leaving). One business - Oxford Seminars (no link = no shill) has caught her eye which offers a 6 day training course for $895. This seems like a significant investment. Are you aware of this program and its value? Can you recommend a better path for a Canuck grad to land a job teaching English abroad?
posted by greedo to Work & Money (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have no advice, but you might want to email stavrosthewonderchicken, who is both Canadian and very knowledgable about the TEFL scene.
posted by gsteff at 8:40 AM on August 18, 2006

I can't speak for the Oxford Seminars, but here in Japan, you don't need any qualifications more than being a native English teacher. (Technically you need the equivalent of a 4 year college degree, but that can be overlooked.)

There are a number of international companies that have language schools (Nova, and Berliz come to mind). Stop by a local office and ask them what requirements are to teach abroad.
posted by Ookseer at 9:01 AM on August 18, 2006

Best answer: It doesn't sound so great, to be honest.

I teach English abroad. 6 days sounds incredibly short for any sort of practical and theoretical course, the name "Oxford" throws up all sorts of red flags (why do they need the cache of being associated with a reputable institution if they aren't reputable on their own?), and you yourself call it a business.

Who assesses the quality of their program? Can she complain about poor quality to a higher power? Does she get to plan model lessons and teach them to actual language learners? Who will her support people be - actual language teachers?

I have the CELTA, which is by far the most recognized English-teaching certificate out there. Details on the qualification here. It's administered by Cambridge University. I spent US$1300 or so to get it in Krakow, Poland, but I could have spent more by taking it in Los Angeles or less by taking it in Bangkok - it's offered all over the world (Canadian centers/centres(!) here). This school in Toronto wants C$1950. Where you do it is irrelevant as all the language schools which offer it are externally monitored. You can do it full-time (my course was from 10 am to 7 pm every weekday for four weeks) or part-time, but doing it full-time made it much easier for me. It was all very professional.

As far as finding a job, I interviewed for the course in early October 2005, earned my CELTA from 15 November to 17 December 2005, and was on the plane to Indonesia at the end of February - and I was picky; I could have taken jobs in all sorts of places but scanned the ads on for the countries I was interested in and looked for folks who spelled everything right (frighteningly rare), trolled the ads for contact e-mails, and then sent off my resumes (circumventing the whole "create-an-online-resume-with-our-format-that-makes-you-identical-to-every-other-candidate" format thing). A week later, I had a job after a phone interview and reviewing the school's contract.

Cambridge ESOL also offers a "lighter" qualification called the TKT, but my school only hires teachers with the CELTA, so there's that to consider.

All that said, read all the comments on this ESL Cafe post (before and after the flaming) to get a better idea about Oxford Seminars from people who've done it.

If that all sounds like so much of a muchness, just check out the job pages now - I bet she'd find a job that didn't require a qualification other than a degree. Asia and eastern Europe are hotspots of the industry right now, but you can teach English to recent immigrants in London or NYC or any big Western city, I imagine. Here's an insanely exhaustive posting about a job in Estonia that requires a CELTA or "equivalent proven 100-hour introductory course." Dunno if that's what Oxford Seminars is offering or not.

To sum up - you get what you pay for. I'm happy I invested the time and money in getting a reputable qualification that makes me marketable enough that I'm in control of the situation - if someone doesn't want to hire me, I know that lots of other schools need teachers. To spend almost a grand and have those things be even a little uncertain is, to me, not the best idea.

Wow, sorry to spout my whole life story there. I'm happy to answer any e-mails about my job or the process - check my profile.

And on preview - yeah, contact stavrosthewonderchicken.
posted by mdonley at 9:01 AM on August 18, 2006 [2 favorites]

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