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Posey
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Hello!

I'm an American in my senior year of High School! I dream of teaching English in China and other Asian countries for at least five years after college. Then, if I decide to return at all, I'd perhaps like to teach Mandarin back in the States.

As I apply for colleges this autumn, what majors and minors would best advance this career path? An East Asian studies major perhaps? What minors would make me more valuable as a teacher in China? (World History/Math/etc?) Would an English minor be of any use or would a TEFL certificate be sufficient? All answers and advice are welcome!

Thanks!

~Poseye

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Linguistics, or Education, or TEFL, taking Asia/China-related coursework on the side.

Probably the most forward-looking route is to major in education and try to get certified in your state as soon as you graduate. This will make you sought-after and hire-able by some of the best schools in Asia. This would also pave your way when/if you decide to come back to the States after your foreign fling.

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I don't know, I seriously doubt the "best schools in Asia" (meaning places like Shanghai International School, Taipei American School, The American School in Japan, etc.) would hire someone with a teaching certificate but no experience. These are some of the most competitive teaching positions in the world, and English teachers who want to teach abroad are a dime a dozen. That's not to say you won't get a job teaching English in Asia, but it won't be at "the best schools" without significant experience and good references.

I do agree with msittig's advice though. Major in education, and either minor or double major in TEFL or something related. You should keep in mind, however, that it may be difficult to retain your certification if you're outside the state in which you're certified. It probably depends upon the state in question, but in Texas, for example, you have to do a certain number of continuing education hours at specific state-approved events. Fortunately, my wife accumulated enough hours during the two years she taught in Texas to be able to extend her certification when the time comes. If she hadn't, it would have been impossible to do so from Taiwan, so her certification would have lapsed.

However, to teach Chinese in the US, you'll have to learn Chinese to a reasonable level (which might be difficult to do on the side of teaching, but can be done if you're disciplined) and get another certification. You could do an MA in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language if you want to be more competitive for such jobs, and you might actually get it paid for if you get a scholarship.

Good luck!

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I know you said you want to teach English, which is fine. But you should know that anyone can teach English ("can" meaning can get a job rather than actually being good at it), and as such, the pay for English teachers is fairly low. On the other hand, if you can teach a school subject such as maths, physics or chemistry, the pay is much better (double or more). So unless you have a particular interest in English, it may be worth considering teaching something else. This is the case in China anyway. Also, you are supposed to have at least two years of work experience to be permitted to work in China.

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Thanks for the replies!

My passion is language and have wanted to teach a foreign language for a while, but I've only recently began exploring TEFL as the first leg of that path. It certainly fits me better than any other career that I've considered but my education in it has just begun. I need all the information I can get. Links to TEFL groups, good colleges, requirements for teaching in Asian countries, etc. Whatever y'all can throw at me. :)

I'd be more than willing to teach a subject different than English while abroad. It seems mathematics and science would be the most prudent choices. The prerequisite two years' experience and licensing before gaining a job in China seems more than reasonable. Experience teaching in America would reflect best on me rather than opting to teach in an Asian country with less regulation, right? And if I'm going to spending two years after undergraduate schooling teaching at home anyway, do y'all think I should extend my stay and get the graduate degree in Mandarin before moving over seas?

OneEye, I'm afraid I might be misunderstanding your post. Are you saying your wife had to maintain her Texas certification from abroad to teach in Taiwan or merely pointing out that if she hadn't had so much experience she would have to be relicensed when she returned?

Thanks again!

-Posey

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Thing is, you'd be looking at getting your first job what, three, four years down the line. There's no telling what visa requirements and the job market will be like then. I'd go with msittig - aim to get qualified to teach at home, then wait and see how things look when you finish.

Basically if you can work in the US, you're unlikely to struggle to find work in China. BUT there are experience requirements, which could be a stumbling block. BUT AGAIN, it's too far out to worry about those.

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OneEye, I'm afraid I might be misunderstanding your post. Are you saying your wife had to maintain her Texas certification from abroad to teach in Taiwan or merely pointing out that if she hadn't had so much experience she would have to be relicensed when she returned?

It isn't about experience, it's about continuing education. Since she did the continuing education hours while we were in Texas, she can extend her certification for another five years. If she hadn't done them, her certification would lapse a few months from now. That wouldn't affect her current job, though I think that depends on the particular school. But she's hoping to find a new job after this year, which would be made much more difficult without a certification, if not nearly impossible.

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