ESL teaching can be a career for life or it can be a year or two of experiences in another country. But what does ESL mean in terms of your skillset? Can ESL teaching make you more employable and what can you do with it? In this post, former York English teacher Matt talks about his time at York, what he’s taken from this experience and how it helped him when he returned to the UK.
My time spent teaching ESL with York English was integral to my career development and the skills and experience I gained there helped me differentiate myself from other candidates in the job market. Although there are a great many opportunities for development and career growth within York English and China itself, for a variety of reasons I returned to the UK after spending 3 years abroad.
Ultimately, I was able to find another great job when I did return to the UK and I have no doubt that my experiences in Fuzhou with York English helped me profoundly in securing my current position.
I currently work as an International Officer for a university in the UK. My responsibilities include traveling to China/South East Asia multiple times a year for recruitment/marketing activity, engaging with Chinese foundation students on campus and providing the university with market intelligence relating to China’s education system.
When I am not on the road, I work in a very diverse international office developing strategies to increase the number of Chinese students enrolling in our courses. Like many industries, higher education is becoming increasingly reliant on the Chinese market and so my first-hand experience in China is invaluable.
Many of the skills that I rely on every day in the role are skills I developed in China. The ability to be resilient, adaptable and flexible in new countries and environments. The ability to plan, structure activities and manage time well are key for both teachers and International Officers.
My role also involves a large amount of public speaking, presentation work and relationship management which comes as second nature after my many hours in the classroom.
Obviously, the ability to speak some Mandarin is extremely useful when working through the packed itineraries I have on recruitment trips, sometimes accompanied by other staff members who have no experience travelling in China.
In a challenging job market employers are increasingly looking for candidates who have a certain edge, a certain extra quality to differentiate them from the increasing crowd of job-hunters. I think it’s easy to understate just how many useful, transferable skills you pick up a) from living in a foreign country (particularly one as foreign as China!) and b) teaching languages.
It is understandable that people wish to weigh up how a particular opportunity is going to affect their CV and future employment. My experience is that teaching ESL in Fuzhou serves as the perfect experience to distinguish yourself from the crowd and, if you can present your experience well, can make the difference between being a good candidate and the best one in a future interview.