Today I want to get back on track a little bit on the subject of finding the right way for you to live in the Philippines with an income that will cover your needs, plus as much more as you chose to make.
If you don’t quite “get” the title of this article then you haven’t read the preceding articles. They are listed right in the links above these words you are reading. Then this article will make much more sense to you.
Today I want to talk about opportunities in the language skills business. I specifically didn’t say “teaching”. From my emails and phone calls I am noticing that the word “teaching” is one of those sort of “loaded” words that seems to mean different things to different people. I’ll explain what I mean here on PhilFAQS, the site to get your questions about living in the Philippines answered, when I talk about teaching.
Now please read what I am saying here carefully, because I don’t want you just skimming over this and drawing the conclusion I am criticizing Dan, or anyone else taking the formal, structured approach to qualification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages or TESOL. Far from being critical, those folks earn my respect and admiration. In many cases, earning certification … especially in a “real” brick and mortar school … id going to increase a person’s earning capacity. In some visa-dependent situations, it may even be a deal breaker. More power to all who choose to take that step.
But I am going to state, without any hesitation, and based on personal experience (as well as income taxes I have paid) that TESOL certification, or any other degree, license, etc. is not necessary to earn money teaching English … or any other language to adults as a supplementary language. If you want to make money with your English skills it is not necessary to earn any certifications. And it is certainly not necessary to try to get a job teaching English here in the Philippines. I could write a book on how many expats have gotten burned, or at the least “burned out” on these cut-rate English language school storefronts here in the Philippines. You would not catch me in one of those jobs on a bet. They pay is poor, to say the least. The work is hard, mind numbing and continuous. Since the tedium and the working conditions are worse than stocking shelves at Wal*Mart, my personal view is, it’s crazy to come here to the Philippines and go through all the hurdles involved in a visa and DOLE work certification. Asking people if they want fries with their burger at McDonalds in the US pays more and is a much better job, with a path to advancement. But all that being said, I am “bullish” on earning money by helping people with their English. Here are some thoughts and things to think through…
When I live din Japan, for example, I worked as a part-time adjunct employee for a “real” language trade school. There were degreed teachers and TESOL who worked there as well, and indeed their hourly rate was higher. But the school was always in need of native English speakers to fill their constant demand for conversational English tutoring or coaching. I had another job and really wasn’t interested in a secondary income, but I became fascinated with the people I met and tutored, so I found it easy to work a few evenings a week, one on one, with people who wanted to hoe their English speaking skills … especially to work on their accents, their skills in interacting with other English speakers in business settings, learning slang expressions and how to tell Hollywood movie slang from proper English, etc. The $30 USD cash per hour I got paid helped make the situation more pleasant, too.
What? $30 USD per hour to ‘teach’ English with no degree? Yes, that’s true. Absolutely true. People do pay that much and more to improve their English skills. In fact most of my students were paying about $45 USD per hour to the school, who handled all money … after all, the school had to make a profit to stay in business. Did I have a work visa? Absolutely not. But I was there as a US Forces employee and there is a long tradition in Japan of ‘looking the other way’ at these part time situations, because Japan simply can not find enough native speaking teachers.
OK, I hear you saying. So first of all you were at least technically working illegally and secondly, why tell us about Japan, we want to come to the Philippines and learn. Gosh Dave, you are way off the beam here, aren’t you?
Actually, I don’t feel that i am. Hear me out. I’ve brought this up many times before and will again in the future. Where you live in today’s world has nothing at all to do with where you can earn a living. You, yes you, who are reading this right now via the enormous power of the Internet could be teaching … or more accurately, coaching or tutoring people in Japan … or any other country … right now, this minute if you chose to. You already have the basic “physical plant” necessary, that is Internet access. You also are at least an above average reader of English, or you would not be able to plow this far through my somewhat obtuse prose, and we cam make a guess that you are a native speaker of English. (if that guess is wrong, don’t click away, this opportunity could work for native speakers of any other language as well).
There is an basic process to doing business, any sort of business that you want to be profitable. It’s very simple.
- Find what people are buying. (note I didn’t say find a need, there are many unfilled needs in this world that you can’t sell solutions for, find something that people are buying).
- Fill that need. (while charging a price that makes you a profit)
That’s it. That’s really all hey will teach you if you go all the way through a PhD in business at Harvard, or the Wharton school. The rest is window dressing. Notice carefully I didn’t talk about finding something to sell, making market surveys and all that other busy work that business professors love to burden students with. All that nonsense is done for you if you look at what people are buying.
And today, all around the world, people are buying learning, especially language learning. And even in our over-regulated, over-government controlled world, in almost all countries and in any situation you can think of, it is still not illegal for one adult to offer coaching or tutoring in a skill to another willing adult. I am not a a lawyer, you already know that, but you should also know that if you think you need a lawyer, hire one. What I have said here and what I will say in the next installment … I’m running long already … is that to the best of my knowledge, everything I talk about is legal and moral.
I’ll wrap this up with a video you ought to watch and consider. It’s a bit more formal and ‘brick and mortar’ than I had in mind, but it’s very interesting because if features one of the free or low cost tools that make distance learning … as in living in one country and teaching someone in another country … not only possible, but desirable.