If you're are just getting started or thinking about teaching English as a foreign language then you may have encountered conflicting view points and information on various ESL sites. You may have found conflicting information about:
Who can you trust? There are a number of horror stories out there and there is a lot of conflicting information. So how do you know the truth?
- Determine who the source is.
- What is their intention?
- Is the source of information transparent?
- Can you contact them?
- Do they have a personal (About) page on their website.
I would say that if these things are absent then I might be leery. Transparency is the key, even when it comes to finding a good ESL job.
Is it an opinion or a fact? The web is full of opinions. I have written some pretty opinionated pieces too. And while it's good to hear some opinions on certain matters, one should be able to mark the distinction between an opinion and a fact.
Are they a business? Is there a potential exchange of money involved? TEFL course providers and recruiters are some examples. If they are a business then whatever information they are telling you could be skewed in favor of marketing their product or school. For example, if they are a TEFL provider they could be using information to market their courses to you like: you need one to teach abroad, you'll get a better job or you'll make more money. These are all common lines by TEFL/TESOL providers.
Recruiters could make a job sound better than it actually is. Recruiters make good money for each teacher they recruit. They may know more than you yet in most cases they haven't even been to the school being advertised.
Remember if it sounds to good to be true then it probably is. If they are transparent then they are likely telling you the truth. If their personal information is vague and impersonal then they may be hiding something.
The less they show or share then the more they might have to hide. There are also some websites out there that aren't necessarily selling anything, but who may be getting paid by referrals and advertising. And some of these sites can again skew information in the hopes of making money through a referral or a click on an advertisement.
Teacher Horror Stories and Experiences
What about Korea (for example)? I have just read a horror story on some ESL site about a girl who said that that she hated it. Should I believe her? Well she's one person who has shared her story online and like bad news it spreads. It's kind of like if you spend your time reading the newspaper you'll start to think about how messed up this world is. But you're actually only reading about a small fraction of events. You're not hearing about all of the events, you're hearing just about the bad ones, which seem to become "all".
What about Dong Wong's English School? I just read a story about a girl who worked there and wasn't paid. So then it is a bad school right? Well, actually Dong Wong's English School is a franchise with many different branches. So what happens in one branch doesn't mean that it happens in all. But she didn't get paid? Right, well maybe that is bad sign for that branch at that particular time.
Like in your country, businesses can change hands and employees come and go. The other thing is you don't always know the whole story. People are different and have different perceptions and experiences abroad. And while bad stuff can happen it doesn't mean that the person writing it is always right. People also tend to write about that stuff when they are angry.
How to filter out the information?
- If something like a school or website is vague or impersonal then you may want to reconsider.
- Define whether it is an opinion or a fact.
- You might not want to trust any one source.
- Consider poor reviews of schools (many is not usually a good sign), yet consider that you probably don't know the whole story.
- Consider the business, what they're selling and how they could be marketing to you.
- Look for transparency, the more transparent the better.