30 September, 2009

Step Right Up!

Yet another article on the new Land of Opportunity, China, where 23-year-old Americans can leave behind $7/hour jobs in drugstores to inflict, er, teach English right out of college:
Reasbeck said it took her two months to find the drugstore job after she graduated from Boston's Emerson College with a degree in writing, literature and publishing. She said she applied to as many as 50 employers nationwide.

Today, on top of her teaching job, she works part-time recruiting other native English-speaking teachers. She makes 14,000 to 16,000 yuan ($2,000 to $2,300) a month.

"I could have a pretty comfortable life here on not a very high salary. English teachers are in high demand," she said.

Reasbeck said most of her college classmates are in part-time jobs or unemployed.

"People are sleeping on their mom's couches, as far as I know," she said.

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19 September, 2009

Last-minute Job Cancelations for EFL Teachers Going to Korea

Over 50 English teachers who were due to fly to Seoul to start new jobs were informed just 24 hours beforehand that they were not needed after all. Here’s the explanation:

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) Tuesday, it hired too many foreign English teachers to fill the 560 positions planned at elementary and secondary schools. It said it hired more applicants than necessary as some tend to fail to come to Seoul.
"About 100 applicants more than necessary were picked. Of them, we had to withdraw employment notices for about 56 applicants, and the rest voluntarily quit," an SMOE official said.
The sudden cancelation has frustrated prospective teachers, leaving many with complaints that they are now stuck without a job and demanding that the employer compensate for costs such as airline tickets and work visa applications.

Comments from a sympathetic blogger here, and a less-sympathetic columnist here.

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12 September, 2009

Why Free Isn't Always Better

Some people have asked us why they should pay money for English Toolbox Co. exercises when there are so many free exercises on the internet. We agree that there are many good free exercises on the web: we used many of them ourselves when we started teaching many years ago. The problem is trying to find something specific among the dozens of sites out there. For example, if you had an advanced level class of businessmen and wanted to review conjunctions, how would you find it? These sites rarely have a search engine, and what you do find may not be really at an advanced level, or may not use business language, or both: our site has a search engine that narrows the search down to very specific parameters. How many questions will be contained within the exercise (ours always have at least 12)? What is the format (all of our exercises are available in both Word and interactive HTML format so the student can practice after class on his/her own PC).

In the area of Business English, our site offers more exercises on skills like meetings, negotiations and presentations--for both intermediate and advanced levels--than any other sites we've seen over the years. In addition, we have specific exercises devoted to finance, logistics, medical English, etc. Again, someone could search for and perhaps even find free exercises on these topics if they had an abundance of free time, but it takes only seconds to locate them on our site.

Finally, when a teacher gets an exercise from a free site, it’s usually a PDF with logos from the publisher splashed all over it… it is clearly something they downloaded from the internet. Our exercises are clean: the teacher can modify, re-brand with a name or logo, or do whatever he/she wants with it (except re-sell it). We believe this has a value that sets it apart from something photocopied from a book or grabbed off the internet.

What we're selling is meant to be used in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, what's already available on other sites. What we offer is convenience, specificity and speed in searching for materials. We think that it’s worth the 79 cents we charge for an exercise to save 20, 30 or whatever number of minutes searching for something that may end up being inadequate for the teacher's needs. Those who disagree can, of course, continue to avail themselves of the free resources; however, our customers have told us they appreciate the quality, quantity and variety of the exercises they’ve found on English Toolbox, and that they save a great deal of time by using it (not just “work time,” but evening and weekend time as well). Some people think that is worth paying for.

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06 September, 2009

New Job-Search Exercises

We’ve added some exercises for writing a CV and a cover letter to the ever-growing English Toolbox collection of business English worksheets.  Enter "CV" or "cover letter" in the “exercise name” field on the Search page to check them out.

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