Posts tagged: Teaching English for Specific Purposes

Build your own ESP for TEFL Success

Earn More – Enjoy it More

This is one of my favorite topics to discuss. It’s a topic that newbies and especially us older teachers should pay special attention to.

A few things might stand in your way to break into the TEFL world. If you don’t fit the stereotype of a young, beautiful or handsome, white native speaker you may find yourself at a disadvantage, but don’t forget about your skills.

How can you deal with this stereotypical discrimination against older teachers and make the disadvantage an advantage? Your answer lies in ESP – English for Special (or Specific) Purposes.

You can draw special skills for ESP from your work history and experience. As you climb the ladder of age, your skills will climb too. If you are older, your skills will be more in-depth and you will have a greater variety of them.

Recently I met an older woman looking for a teaching job in a wonderful destination resort area.  As she was older, she was not likely to be picked by the local school system who liked young women to teach their young kids. Does she really want a local school job while her ESP skills are just waiting to be tested.  She had worked for and been trained by a major hotel chain.

If you compare teaching screaming kids in a hot classroom and teaching hotel receptionists in small groups in an air-conditioned corporate training room, which one do you want? Give me that hotel job! No doubt about it. So that is the future of this woman.

Her resume should focus on two things: Her hospitality training and experience plus her TEFL training and experience. It’s a match almost made in heaven, a good ESP marriage.

She can even take her job search further, beyond just hotels and resorts and apply for jobs at colleges and universities with hospitality training programs.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Take another glance at your resume before heading for the TEFL world. Identify your ESP skills and exploit them. It’s to your advantage.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Don’t forget about the colleges, universities, technical schools, specialized vocational secondary schools and all the rest who might teach and value and need your “special” skills.

Why ignore your ESP skills when it has countless advantages? It will open many doors for you, you will most likely teach people who share your interests and get a higher salary. Your ESP skills are a big bonus.

Teaching Internships in China


Teaching English at Multi-National Corporations

Teaching Business English: at the corporate level

You’ve already figured out that much of the current material on this blog comes from the great questions you readers ask and I will feature another one today.

This one we will do more as a Q and A than most others.

This reader was interested in teaching ESP and focused on the Middle East as an option and he had a specific interest in Saudi Arabia. Here we go:

Hi Richard (name changed to protect the innocent!),

You wrote:
You mentioned that you had vast experience teaching for corporate companies.

I am not sure “vast” would be the correct word, but yes, probably more experience than most teachers.

When you taught, for example, Roche Pharmaceuticals (Taiwan), did you adapt the English course to suit the pharmaceutical industry e.g. English for special purposes?

Absolutely. Yes. But what was adapted was based on a good Needs Analysis of what they felt they were having difficulty with. It was not based on a preconceived notion about what I might have thought they needed.

Would you say today, that corporate companies want specialised courses to fit their industry, so if you did teach a petroleum company, would it be necessary to study courses in geology/petroleum engineering etc.

Yes, they want a course focused on their business needs. No, you don’t need to excessively study their specialty, but it would be important to understand and have some idea about what the people you are teaching actually do on the job, when and how and why do they use/need English, and what kinds of problems they need help with. Showing up completely prepackaged is not the answer. Good needs analysis when you arrive is critical.

Also, which industry sector needs English instructors the most??

It’s a big world – I don’t know. I would say a need exists probably everywhere and in every industry. It has more to do with WHERE, rather than What. If, for example, you are teaching in the Gulf States – well, it is likely the need is in the petroleum and perhaps hospitality industries. If you are teaching in Nepal – probably tourism and hospitality, in Switzerland probably banking and hospitality, and so on.

These days many students study abroad, so their English is a higher level than students 30 years ago, so where would there be a niche market for English instructors in corporate firms?

Same answer as above. The need is Global and not always where you might think it is. It is not just about foreigners speaking to English speakers. It is about English being the only common language between perhaps a Chinese exporter and the Brazilian who needs her product. Or a Japanese construction company working with local engineers installing a high speed train in Bulgaria. Got it?

And finally, what was the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Helping people improve their career prospects. And that was a GREAT reward.

TED’s Tips™ #1: It is better to focus on teaching ESP perhaps in a an industry in which you are familiar and preferably experienced rather than looking for an industry and trying to adapt to it.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Understand that businesses want an end product. They don’t hire a teacher or pay for English classes just to take classes. They hire you to solve a language problem and you need to focus on and get to the root of what your ESP students need. If not, you will quickly be out the door.

What’s up in China? Learn what kind of jobs are on offer if you would like to Teach English in China

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