Travel & Teach - India
India is another popular destination for our Gap Year TEFL students. It has a very long and colourful history, reputedly having been inhabited for at least 5,000 years. Aryan tribes, Arab and Turkish invaders have all arrived at the borders and passed into India, to be followed later by European traders, from the late 15th century onwards. However by the 19th century, Britain had assumed political control of virtually all-Indian lands and much of the influence of Empire can be seen today.
Nehru led India to independence in 1947 and the Indian subcontinent was divided into the secular state of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. However much turmoil ensued, and a third war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh.
Unfortunately tensions continue today and current concerns still centre around the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, although there are other problems facing India, including massive overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty and ethnic strife. However the country has made impressive gains in economic investment and output.
At the present time tensions appear to have eased, so while the prospect of dispute with Pakistan never seems very far away, India is back again on the tourist map. India is one of the most popular destinations for Western backpackers and more recently Goa and its beaches has started to attract serious numbers of long haul tourists seeking the sun.
In spite of all the problems, India remains one of the most popular destinations for independent travellers. It is also one of the most viewed country fact sheet pages by Global English students.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in India: http://www.britishcouncil.org/india.htm
Indian Embassy UK: http://www.indianembassy.co.uk/index.htm
Indian Embassy USA: http://www.indianembassy.org/
Indian National Tourist Office: http://www.tourisminindia.com/
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Global English students are working all over the world with their accredited TESOL certificates. Find out
how TESOL training from Global English has made a difference to their lives:
I have been teaching English here in Goa for the last seven years. My students are mainly Arabs who come down to India from the Gulf States and Africa for Higher Education at Indian universities and colleges.
The standard of English language teaching in these countries has historically been poor, so before the boys can start college they need to learn English. This is my only experience of teaching.
I don't, however, believe that there is a good 'market' anywhere in India for native English speaking teachers to teach Indians. Firstly, many Indians already speak adequate English (English shares "Official Language of the Country" status with Hindi). Secondly, those Indians who need to learn or improve their English would, generally speaking, have less disposable income to spend on lessons, and would never be able to pay the kind of fees which a native English teacher would need here. Labour in India is very cheap, and teachers are poorly paid.
There are many private institutes throughout the country which advertise 'Spoken English' classes, but I doubt that they would consider employing native English teachers, as a) Europeans could never manage on the salary paid, and b) I think the Indian teachers themselves would feel threatened by a native English speaker. Generally speaking, the standard of teaching in these institutes is not good.
However, a market is fast-developing for 'Call Centre Training' and advertisements claim that these courses can eradicate Indian accents and teach English diction and nuance. I have not had any contact with these Centres, but the fees charged to applicants are high, so one assumes that the teachers will be reasonably well-paid.
There is definitely huge potential for giving private tuitions to foreigners studying in India, as I am doing. Many of these students come on scholarships given by their governments, and some government officers themselves are given sabbaticals to come to India to learn English and computer skills. These students, and those from the Gulf States, are able to pay higher tuition fees. A teacher giving group classes to these students for five or six hours a day, five days a week, could earn enough to live comfortably here.
A teacher would have to be based in one of the big university cities, i.e.: Pune, Hyderabad, Aurangabad or Bangalore. Many students choose to learn English in
Goa before starting college in one of the above-named cities, because many local people here in Goa speak English well, and use it as a first language. Many boys who come here stay with local families, which greatly helps their language development. My own syllabus takes six months to complete, after which time the boys often move on to study computer courses or to start college.
Living and working in one of the big Indian cities such as Hyderabad or Bangalore would probably be as the uninitiated imagines: totally chaotic! The standard of living for the vast Indian middle class is rising quite rapidly, and so is the cost of living. It is no longer cheap to live long-term in India. Goa is unique in India. It is the smallest Indian state, and is located on the west coast, 600kms south of Bombay. English is widely spoken, and there are quite a lot of Europeans who live here permanently, although most of these 'ex-pats' are older, many of them retired. The weather is glorious between November and March, almost unbearably hot in April and May before the onset of the monsoon, and then we have torrential rain between July and October.
Many Europeans visit Goa on charter flights between October and March for a winter sun holiday, and this would probably be a good introduction to the country for anyone contemplating coming here for the longer term.
In India, the English language is taught in many schools. There are regular schools, very good schools run by nuns and Jesuit fathers but for these schools you need a regular BEd and MEd. In addition to that they are only paid about GBP 200. There are some international schools who may employ teachers with Certificates and diplomas In TEFL, TESOL, CELTA etc. The online job I got was through an advertisement I found in one of the job sites (www.eslcafe.com). I applied for it and was asked to give an interview through the internet. They checked if my computer and internet connection were in order. I signed the contract and got the job. I teach Chinese students they come to the class whenever they can. The material is prepared by the school I just need to help them learn the language. The classes are small sometimes even one-to-one. The students who join may want to just improve certain aspects in the language (for example writing, accent). These classes could be everyday or maybe twice a week depending on the student. This is not a very well paid job but it gives me a lot experience, which is what I want.
The differences between face-to-face and online are as follows:
* even if you can see and hear the student (through the internet) there is always a feeling of being in two different places and not in a classroom.
* there are a few activities that can be done much more easily face-to-face than online (play games with two teams, for example)
* sometimes there can be a failure in the technology (e.g. the webcam may not work or the sound may not be clear...)
* students are less animated as they have to be in the picture.
But on the other hand students are more focussed, as they don't have fellow students that can distract them and they join the class whenever they are free.
If you have any experience of working in India and would like to share it with us, please add a message to our blog on this page.
Travel and Teach
In India, English is the second language so while demand to learn and improve is high, paid teaching opportunities are few and far between, and there is no integrated EFL industry. School students learn English as part of their curriculum and there are a few private institutions as a result.
If you do secure teaching work it is likely to be with a voluntary or educational organisation. Be prepared for large student numbers, perhaps accompanied by less than adequate resources. The good news is that Indian students are hardworking and teaching them is a rewarding experience. You can expect to be greeted by friendly curiosity from the locals outside of the school environment, hopefully leading to positive exchanges and friendship. You should certainly be able to live well by local standards, although with the average monthly salary for EFL teachers of around £100 or less per month, do not expect to save much.
It is unusual to see jobs in India advertised in the UK EFL press, although some private language schools do advertise on the internet at websites like www.tefl.com. In common with many poorer countries, the best way to secure a position is to arrive in the country and keep your ear to the ground for opportunities. It is likely that you will find many willing pupils who you can exchange lessons with in return for food and accommodation. If you feel brave, offer your services at state schools or to small village communities. This is one way to gain invaluable teaching experience. Whether you can secure a living wage in this way is another matter. If you do wish to obtain a position before you travel, the best hope is to contact one of the voluntary organisations listed with World Service Enquiry.
For the brave TEFLer, working in India offers a wonderful opportunity to experience life and culture in a way that would not be possible by simply travelling through the country. We would recommend at the very least you take a Global English Level 1 TESOL or a Weekend TEFL before you go.
One of the more interesting ways of finding work is with Indian organisations that specialise in training to teach English over the Internet. Anila Agarwal completed her GE Certificate course with business and has begun to work part time for one of these companies, teaching English to Chinese speakers. She has written some comments on this line of work in the Student Comments section.
Travel with enough money to support yourself throughout your stay and take bags of enthusiasm and confidence with you. A degree is an advantage, even for voluntary organisations and a Global English Level 2 TESOL will enhance your job prospects. It is possible to enter the country on a tourist visa and many have chosen to work informally on this alone. Six-month multiple-entry visas are now issued to most nationals regardless of whether you intend staying that long or re-entering the country. However, only six-month tourist visas are extendable. A work permit is not easily obtained but the Indian embassy can supply one with a letter from your employer.
On applying for EFL jobs, it is generally advisable to send a passport sized photograph along with a CV and possibly copies of degree/EFL certificates. In India, certain inoculations such as Hepatitis A, polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Meningitis are advisable before you travel. Check the latest information on these from your doctor and arrange good health insurance before you travel.