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Planning your career in ELT

May 29, 2009

Hello again,

Is it just my perception or does ELT have a greater share of whingers than other professions? People are always telling me how they find ELT poorly paid, over-burdened, and with poor career prospects. Well, if that’s how you feel, do ...

...something else. But for those who love teaching, who find the English language endlessly rich and intriguing, who enjoy meeting the widest possible range of people, then ELT has a great deal to offer. And it is possible, at the upper levels, to earn a good salary.

So how do you plan for a good career in ELT? The starting point is to know your own strengths and weaknesses, personal preferences and potential. In such a diverse field as ELT it is important to position yourself correctly. So list what you want to get out of the profession and what potential you have for making your mark. If you want to travel, decide where and for how long. If you prefer to teach immigrants in your country, look at the structures for doing so. If you are of a more academic disposition, look at how you can progress in university departments, perhaps doing research in linguistics or in some of the more specialist areas, such as testing. If you have a creative streak, think about how you might develop materials. If your strengths are managing teams of people then academic or general management might be your chosen path. Teacher training is another rewarding area.

Make sure you equip yourself with appropriate professional qualifications. If you have serious career ambitions, you want to be able to compete at the highest level. You don’t have to qualify all at one time. You can build up your portfolio of certificates incrementally, studying part-time if you need to. But don’t complain about poor career prospects if you haven’t bothered to put in the effort of becoming properly professionally qualified.

Make a timescale for your envisaged progress. You first need solid classroom experience. You need to gain a post of responsibility. You need to keep up to date with developments and changes. Make the most of any networking opportunities you have. Get noticed by attending and presenting at conferences. Successful careers rarely happen by accident.

And that brings me to another point. A successful career in ELT may look very different from other fields. Your progress is unlikely to be linear. It is likely to involve many changes of direction, many different locations. Earnings may be better in some years than others. But if you really want to have a career in ELT, I assure you it is possible, rewarding and full of interest.

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  1. Eoghan Says:

    Your article is very encouraging but still quite vague. Some concrete examples would be helpful of how individuals got into higher positions. I have no shortage of experience but I would like to know what qualifications would lead me to a post as say Director of Studies or Teacher Trainer. Some examples of specific qualifications and concrete options would be nice.


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