Teaching English in a Hotel or Resort Setting

Here are a few tips about teaching English in a hotel or resort setting.  

One thing you may not be aware of yet, is that in a hotel/resort setting you will usually teach the employees by department.

This is partly because they have very different language needs and partly because hotels often place employees in different departments according to the level of their English skills.

Usually the most skilled English speakers are going to be working the front office/front desk/reception area.  Next step down would be the Food and Beverage (F&B) department.  F&B people will obviously have different types of conversations with hotel guests than the front office people.

Further down the food chain of English skills would be housekeeping, who would – of course – have a different type conversation with guests and than the maintenance people and further down the line would be groundskeepers.

Groundskeepers are usually going to be asked directions.  They will run into guests outside who want to know where the pool is, the tennis courts, maybe the name of a plant and so on.

Housekeepers will talk about when they might clean a room, a request for more towels and so on.

Maintenance & Engineering Department – the TV or A/C isn’t working, the toilet is clogged, etc.

We can see that they all will have specialized needs for very specific conversations.  The hotel is hiring you to get those people up to speed fast.  It is a business and they want results, so you concentrate only on the specific needs for each area.

Especially for the lower level positions, their English skills may be minimal and teaching a few simple conversations might be all you can accomplish in the limited time allotted for those employees (and they often don’t allot much for lower-level employees).

Lessons need to be very focused and specific. If a reception employee needs to ask a guest’s name or what kind of room they want, what EXACTLY is that question they need to ask to obtain that information?

And what is the likely response from the guest?  Or several likely responses from the guest?  Your students often won’t know these things unless you tell them exactly.  And – you are the teacher – they expect that you will tell them.

You can possibly get some of the back-and-forth conversations that you need to teach from elicitation, but you should be prepared to provide all of it.  THAT is what should be the Presentation or Engagement component of your lesson.

For Practice or Study, structured examples of the back and forth conversation with some variation should be manipulated moving from structured to less structured .  Production or Activation- even more variation and ideally, some real examples from their daily work.

Don’t neglect the Elicitation component of ESP lessons.  It is difficult to know, even if you have good experience in that industry, all the possible problems the staff deal with on a day to day basis.  About ten years ago I was teaching an F&B class how to handle complaints and the #1 complaint – think of one . . .   I am sure you didnt’t guess this one . . . when the guests at the open air restaurant got up to get more food at the morning buffet, the birds were raiding their plates and tables!

TED’s Tips™ #1:   Learn more about teaching Hospitality English at www.TEFLeBooks.com here: http://teflebooks.com/hotel-english/ or about the certification program at www.TEFLBootCamp.com here:  http://teflbootcamp.com/english-for-special-purposes-certification-courses-2/esp-teaching-hotel-and-resort-english/

Why not work in some of the world’s most beautiful settings?

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Taking your Family Abroad to Teach English

A reader wrote the following:

 My wife and I are thinking about a life-change and the first thing we thought about was teaching English abroad.

We want to give ourselves and our girls (4  and 7) unique experiences while doing something positive for other people.

My question is whether you think it’s possible for a family of four to be able to do something like this.

Have you heard of other families doing this? I’m most concerned about how my girls would be educated in schools abroad or if they could even get into a school?

Taking a family along with you overseas definitely complicates things.

The problem is this . . .

In most countries your children will not be allowed into the local school system, even if we assume they are fluent in the local language (will they be?).

The alternative, good quality international schools can often cost as much if not more than an English teacher’s wages every month, for just ONE student’s tuition.

So . . . this is a problem.  But there are ways to get around problems, as we all know.

 Some Solutions

I don’t know your education or qualifications, so my responses will be a bit general, but should still provide some guidance.  The options assume you are a native speaker with a passport from a country that would ordinarily be considered an English speaking country.

The options are listed in the order of relative ease of pursuing that path.

Home Schooling

The first option that is most often proposed is home schooling.

I’ve not seen this work well and usually it is the child’s education that gets shortchanged.  I am sure there are excellent exceptions about, but in 20 years abroad, I’ve not yet personally run into one. I’ve certainly had people tell me it worked fine for them, I’ve just not personally witnessed it.

Consider also, If one spouse stays home to teach the children, you are limited to the other spouse’s income.  It can be real stretch for a regular English teacher’s income to provide for more than two people.

Something else to consider is that there is good research indicating that at some point children really need the social interaction that a school provides.

They need to understand and learn everything from how to avoid the class bully to how to make friends with new people.  Learning cooperative play in large groups is also important.

 Second and Third Tier International Schools 

There are a lot of second and third tier “international schools” overseas.  They don’t provide a first class traditional “international school” education, but they do provide something.

These are often “bilingual” schools trying to provide local children with either an English based education or at least more exposure to English than just a few language classes.  They are often trying to provide an education that is a step up from what the local public schools provide.

If you work for one of these schools you are often allowed to admit one or several children into the program for free or at least at significantly reduced rates.

These schools won’t require you to meet the same requirements that a full-fledged international school would.  You don’t have to have the minimum two years experience or the full teacher certification from your home country.  A degree and a TEFL certification is often all that is required.  Not all such schools will provide free or reduced tuition, but many do.

Normal Universities /  Teachers Colleges

In some countries, tertiary schools with a strong Education Department will sometimes have an on campus “international” or bilingual school – roughly similar to what we just reviewed above.  These schools are there to help provide classroom practice for the teachers-in-training attending that college/university.

These type colleges are often called a Teacher’s College/University or a “Normal University”.  If you are hired to teach at this type of school, you will sometimes be offered an option to place your children in the university program for free or reduced tuition.  In some countries like China – for example – you might need only a degree and a TEFL certification for such university positions.

 Teaching in the Middle East

Another option, possibly the best, but having the most stringent qualifications requirement, is to seek employment in the Middle East.

The Gulf States in particular tend to pay well and employment contracts usually provide for free tuition for a limited number of children (often two) at a first class international school.

These employers, however, will usually want a couple of years of previous teaching experience, a relevant graduate degree and/or a TEFL certification.

If you intend to stay abroad for a long time, this type setting should be your goal and you can use the two previous options to work your way toward this one.

TED’s Tips™ #1:   Taking a family abroad offers some real challenges, but what better gift can a parent give their children than a better awareness and understanding of the world around them?

Don’t give up if this is your goal.  Focus your job search on the options mentioned above and you will succeed.

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What about Older Teachers? Is Ageism a Problem?

Another reader wrote:

I am 59 years of age with a university degree in Communications and a TESOL certification.  I have applied to numerous ads in various countries seeking ESL teaching employment.

I am a healthy, single person with no children or encumbrances; therefore, I can offer flexibility to meet an employer’s requirements.

I’ve had zero interest from these employers!

The only conclusion I can draw is my lack of ESL teaching experience (although I have had plenty of adult teaching experience), coupled with my age, is preventing me from securing a position.

I have lived abroad previously, but that seems to be of no interest to these prospective employers.  What am I to do?

I have no doubt that the root of the issue is your age.

You are about my age and I too, if I was out looking for a job right now, would have some difficulty.

Ageism, Racism and just about every other kind of “-ism” exists in TEFL abroad and to a large degree such things are legal in those countries where you might hope to find work.

What to do about it

But – your most important question – What to do about it?

#1 – Go where you want to teach and apply IN PERSON.  Schools don’t know that you are vital and full of energy and positive (all those things that us stereotyped older folks are believed to not be . . .).  And especially for us older men – schools assume we are cranky (and frankly, a lot of older guys ARE cranky!).

#2 – Market yourself addressing your previous skills.  See: http://www.teflnewbie.com/using-current-skills-to-teach-english/  at our sister publication http://www.TEFLnewbie.com   I wrote that and it should help a lot and give you some great ideas on how to change your current job search strategy.

Your lack of experience is not really an issue.  People with no experience are hired every day.  Even people with no experience and no training get hired.

TED’s Tips™ #1:   Passive job searches often don’t work well if you are not  young and “white”.  Get out there and get what you want.  It just takes a more active approach.  For people who don’t have any training at all, get yourself trained to help separate yourself from the crowd.

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