Career advice

6th July 2001 at 01:00
Q I am completing an Open University degree that is 50 per cent English and have a place on an MA language studies course for September. Then I don't know whether to study for a PhD or a PGCE with Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

My family wants to move to Spain at the completion of my studies and I am interested in working with 14 to 16-year-olds teaching English or finding a university post in linguistics English at a university in Spain. Are these realistic options?

A You are certainly planning well ahead. Most PGCE courses for intending school teachers now focus almost exclusively on the national curriculum. There are no secondary PGCE courses explicitly offering TEFL or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages listed in the current Graduate Teachers' Training Registry handbook, though there is such a course in the post-compulsory sector listed under the University of Greenwich. Otherwise, there are many TEFLTESOL courses run privately that last just a few weeks and provide a certificate from a recognised examining body.

You'll need to explore the possibility of work at a university yourself, perhaps during a visit to Spain.

Undertaking a PhD and a TEFLTESOL course would probably provide you with the greatest range of options but you might not recoup the financial outlay that three or four years of extra study for a doctorate involves. There are, of course, many other benefits of studying at this level.

Q What are my chances of getting a job as an English teacher? I am 62 and have 24 years of experience in US secondary schools teaching high school English. Am I too old?

A Most teachers now retire by the time they are 60, so your chances of finding work are probably slim unless you can demonstrate some key skills of interest to schools. One possibility might be schools in London that cater for the children of US personnel, where your experience would be helpful. Or, you could consider tutoring.

Q I retired as a principal after 33 years of service in India. I have now come to London to join my son. Is there any possibility of getting a teaching post in either business studies or economics at the age of 62? Would I need a work permit?

A Your best bet might be part-time tutoring through an agency. It doesn't pay as well as teaching but offers greater flexibility and the chance of working on an individual basis. You might also contact the examination boards to see if they are looking for markers.

Whether you will need a work permit will depend on the stamp in your passport. Partly because of your age, you may need to seek professional advice on this point.

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