ESL Teaching Guide - Turkey

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Michelle Kalpakci - July 2004

The best way to teach ESL is to home tutor. I have been working in Turkey for almost a year now. I teach at my home or the students home one on one. I generally teach in 2 hour sessions two days per week. I have 4 students now so that comes to 16 hours a week and I charge 40 million TL a session. I earn around 320 million a week. That is 3-4 times more than most turkish workers. I have had very positive experiences here. I also have flexible hours. If I want a vacation I just move the hours around. I don't do it often but it is possible. I have found the Turks are very giving and helpful.

Miss N - June 2004

My earlier response is posted below. I believe I was in a bad mood when I posted it, although the information is actually correct.

Now that I am getting used to the curriculum it is less of a problem. The major change that has happened since my last posting, is a dramatic drop in my hours. Summer enrolments are generally low in language schools, but at my school this has been so dramatic that I now teach only about 12 hours per week! Most other teachers are in the same boat. This has actually come at a good time for me personally, but teachers should be aware that summer enrolments can drop dramatically ...the best time to look for work would probably be at the tail end of summer (August - September), before the new crop of students arrives.

Also you should know that employers who PAY ON TIME are a rarity in Turkey. When I first came for an interview at my current school, I asked other teachers what was the best thing about working there. They told me that the school ALWAYS paid on time, so they never got into trouble with rent or other commitments. At first I wrote that off as being quite a small positive point in its favour; actually in Turkey, this is a significant positive factor and one you should definitely look for. It is not as trivial as it sounds !!!

And I'm told that the pay we get is about 3 - 4 times the average Turkish salary. It's easy enough to spend it in Ýstanbul, but if you really want to save money, you can...ordinary Turks do by cooking for themselves at home, and not going out quite so much as most of the yabançi teachers. And Taskim (central Istanbul) has quite a lot of nightlife to choose from.

Miss N - May 2004

I am from Australia and currently teaching Istanbul, Turkey. The positive aspects of my current teaching job are:

The negative aspects: Stupid management who don't trust "yabançi" (foreign) teachers with any equipment, resources or initiative, despite advertising this as the no. 1. attraction of their school (by the way, school apartments are only for teachers and nobody else is allowed to stay...just to preserve your moral fibre).

A curriculum that I have no control over, and which is very intensive and not particularly suited to students needs (most of whom are working full time as well).

Stupid management (did I mention that before?) your abilities as a teacher are entirely judged on the number of student complaints, and teachers are not able to even learn what the complaints are, who made them, ..etc..."just fix them".

Students need to develop critical thinking skills and a wider view of the world, however the curriculum does not allow time to do this, it is a struggle just to get through the grammar for the many exams.

The management is out to make money and will not make even minor concessions to this. Eg. teachers must pay for photocopying out of their own wages...or they must use the not-very-good school-provided text books. Your choice. Going out to celebrate the last day of class will be unpaid time for you, so you have to celebrate in the classroom. Stupidities like this.

Long, long hours on weekends (8 or 9 hour teaching days, sometimes with only twenty minute breaks between morning and afternoon shift)

Wages: 15 million Turkish lira per hour, most teachers work 30 or more hours per week (some 42 in the classroom). Minimum is 25 hours per week. Work fluctuates with the season. You aren't paid except for classroom time. Approx $11 - 12 US per hour. (Enables you to live quite comfortably in Turkey). Plus apartment (shared) or housing allowance.

Staff support: moral support among colleagues high, otherwise there isn't any...negative support from management.

Student motivation: Generally high but it's difficult to push them through the curriculum we have, most want a more speaking \ communicative approach than we offer.

Accommodation: apartment is quite nice, shared with other teachers, close to school. Only problem is, it's near traffic so is noisy...can be a big problem at times. Students who find their own shared accommodation would get a housing allowance which would almost cover the costs. Only, in Turkey, finding your own flat can be very difficult...expect people to rip you off if you are a yabançi, and don't expect to see your bond ever again.

Standard of living is good. The only problem is finding time to live, between shifts at school. You can refuse shifts but there is some pressure to take on at least 25 hours per week, most teachers teach around 30 - 35 hours per week. Turkish food is tasty, which is lucky as there's not much variety to it. (My students were just talking about a very fine, very excellent restaurant near here...they serve very special food....for example, special kebabs. You get my drift).

Suggested Reading

Living in Turkey
Lonely Planet Turkey
Turkey (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Istanbul (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Blue Guide Turkey, Third Edition (Blue Guides)

Martha Oral - November 2001

Requirements for legal work in private school (where the best money is generally):
1) University degree in English.
2) Teaching certificate from your home country or state.
For Universities: Prep year: Degree + CELTA or similar.
English Departments: Minimum MA in ELT or, in some cases where they teach a content based program MA in pretty much anything and CELTA or experience. Language schools: No degree or experience required, but CELTA or the like is generally preferred.

Currently Turkey is very safe but the economy is bad so the pay is not great. Women are not generally harassed if they use their heads and avoid areas where the prostitutes hang out. - First Stop for Your Second Language Needs
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