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How to get ahead in your career

Post-graduate education can lead to more opportunities, says Melanie Butler

This supplement is not for people looking to move into EFL. Not that there are many looking to do that – the numbers on four-week certificate courses are very low pretty much everywhere, from Aberdeen to Auckland.

This supplement is for teachers who want to stay in EFL – or even get back into it – but who want to work in good jobs, at liveable wages and in a profession which doesn’t dismiss them as ‘just teachers’.

You’d think this was the time anyone could just walk into such a job. There is a world shortage of EFL teachers qualified to work in private language schools, but there isn’t a shortage of people who have taken a four-week training course and are therefore qualified to teach it. However, many looked at the meagre wages on offer in the job ads when they finished the course and decided to forget the whole thing. Others taught for a couple of years and then got ‘a proper job’.

Still more were laid off during Covid and forced to get other work, and found that a permanent contract and a secure salary meant they had a much more comfortable life. “I’d love to come back,” one UK EFL-teacher-turned-prison-officer told the owner of their former school. “I love teaching, but I can only afford to come back if I have a secure job.”

If you want a secure job and a liveable salary then that almost certainly means leaving the private language school sector. And that, in turn, probably means getting another qualification.

In the past, in most of Europe, that has meant getting a diploma and moving into management. But this supplement isn’t covering dip courses. As we explain on page 19, Brexit has reduced the job opportunities for dip teachers, and outside of Australia and New Zealand, there simply isn’t the demand for them – or, since the private language sector suffered a huge financial hit during Covid – the money to pay for them.

What this supplement is concentrating on is the two qualifications which can get you out of the private language sector and into the mainstream: a Master’s degree and the new international Postgraduate Certificate of Education, or iPGCE.

As we explain on page 18, the iPGCE is designed to be the main teaching qualification for British-style international schools. And, as long as you want to live abroad, the pay prospects are great, but it’s not currently accepted for state school jobs in Britain.

There’s nothing new about a UK Master’s qualification, though innovative new programmes like the one at the University of Chichester (see opposite) are coming on stream. A must-have for university jobs, it is also widely accepted by independent and international schools as an advanced teaching qualification.

Prices have stayed stable and there is lots of publicly available information about each course, from how good a department’s research is to how amazing each university in England is at teaching its students. On our grids (pages 21-25) we have added all the information we have to help you make good choices.

Image courtesy of Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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