Created by Martin S. 13 replies
Teachers overseas,you have a limited shelf life,and you should be prepared to have a backup second career. Unless you get in with a very good employer who loves you to bits because you excel as a teacher, and is prepared to go to bat for you,that is it.For many between 60 to 65 and after that,goodbye.If you go into business yourself and start your own school or work as a private tutor then awesome, you can teach till your 100 +. Be realistic, have a backup plan, and except that sometimes you may have to concede. I have a plan,and it is what I would like to do. "Don't worry,be happy!"
I am 61 y/o American and have been teaching in Mexico for 1 1/2 years. Since I speak Spanish very well, I've chosen to focus on staying in Latin America. Language and bilingual schools are more open to hiring older teachers, since the government doesn't have age restrictions, although the school's insurance company might not insure teachers over 60 with major-medical coverage. I believe that the issue with teachers over 50 going overseas, is that there's a myth that one can find a teaching job anywhere. Unfortunately, many teachers are drawn to the Middle East or Asia for either the money or abundance of jobs. Once must bear in mind that, at least in Asia, the government won't issue work visas over a certain age, due to their own country's mandatory age requirement. It's criticacl for teachers over 50, to be open-minded about alternatives for teaching (i.e language schools or volunteer work).
For me, I have no desire to have my own school or business and, since being a teacher is who I am, I plan to continue working in language shools or bilingual schools, in Latin America, until I retire around age 70. Fortunately, I have excellent qualifications (i.e. B.S. Education, CELTA, and over a decade of primary teaching experience), which makes me very marketable to schools who are open to hiring older, highly qualified teachers. I caution older teachers about being in this industry for the money - it's not everywhere and i know from experience, that bilingual schools that pay well, can have high turnover, in part, due to having contracted uncertified teachers. Just having a 4-year degree and being a native English speaker does NOT mean one can competenly teach and manage a class of English language learners, which can be very difficult for the untrained teacher. Sadly, schools feed on hiring native English speakers with 4-year degrees, with the hope that the teacher can teach well, then when things go badly for the teacher, either the teacher is let go or leaves, all due to lack of training and schools being more of a business, than a sound educational institution.
Good posting. Sound advice. The age issue applies to the Middle East as well. Definitely a limited shelf life. 55 is the closing practical age, although the legal one is now 60. Noone cares what the legal one is, so look young!
Thanks Martin. I haven't hit 50 yet but your post put things into perspective and already thinking of going back and laying roots(professionally!). A friend of mine is facing the very issue you mention and she's 59 and struggling to get another job. She's been in the Middle East too long an am not making that mistake.....hopefully.
Hello, this is great advice. I have been told by many schools in South Korea that I am "too old" for their positions at age 36!!! Once I passed 35, I began to receive fewer offers though I hold an M.A. and have ten years of university-level teaching experience. The age-cap worries me greatly, so I am extremely pleased to read that Cathy has been successful! If anyone would like to share about countries where institutions accept (embrace?!?) a wide range of ages, I would be happy to learn of them! Thank you.
Although, somewhat dismal in tone. Reflect more joy into your writing.
This getting old is great. I have noticed that with the good motivators, at an older age, are in more of a demand than the younger "facilitators", back packers"'.And besides. who needs the money?
Muhammad Imran A.
Hi Martin. Good old and real topic. On one hand during work we remain so busy that hardly think about retirement and on the other hand days pass so quietly, steadily and quickly that hard to believe.
Thanks God that we are living in the era of IT and online services. As they say "Old is Gold". Now everyone can keep working and remain active till last breath.
Don't worry be happy!
Thanks for your post. I just turned 50 and am in my second year teaching in Japan. Have not yet decided what I will do when I grow up. lol. Just living in the moment. I had a business back home home for many years; this is a big change and a way for me to travel a bit. Thought I might be able to save some money working in Japan but it has all gone on traveling! I am ready to go somewhere new and realize I have a very short window of opportunity to see some of the places I want to see. So I think I may have to forgo money and just explore for the few years I can.
@S.E.Yearout The age issue is a problem and looks matter as well, probably as much as qualifications. Thailand has a work permit rigid cut-off date of 60 and after 50; you’re heading into the second tier privately run treadmills – overall low salary as well. You’ll never get to see the beaches and palm trees, you’ll be too busy doing extra activities, summer schools and lesson plans, in triplicate. Yet there is hope. If you can get into China before 60 and head for the more remote regions such as Inner Mongolia where I am now, health permitting, you get unofficial ‘grandfather rights’, until around your mid-60s.
I was teaching in China till 57. Just hit 59 and finding it hard to find new places.Thinking about Vietnam or maybe Mexico. I did a volunteer stint in Sri Lanka teaching monks which was amazing. They didn't pay a salary but provided accommodation and also transportation so that was pretty nice. If anyone knows of countries that accept over 60s I would be interested to know.
You can always move to Thailand and do reasonably well. I know of many teachers working here who are well into their golden years. A personal friend just turned 68 and he is working full time in one job and doing private classes in another.
I guess the question is how long do you really want to continue working?
Martin, your advice is right on target. It gets progressively harder to find jobs as you get older, especially here in the Far East. In South Korea, where I live, the mandatory retirement age is 60. It used to be 50, as recently as 8 years ago. The degree of age-prejudice here in South Korea is stunning. Every job application requires a photograph, which, where I come from (California) is outrageous. There are cutsie-pie little hints as to the fact that they do not want any "older" people-for example when you see them advertising for someone "fresh". The age discrimination they practice here is outright illegal and unthinkable in California but they get away with it here.
I am teaching privately and my students kid me sometimes about my age but, because they gave me a chance by getting to know me, we're all comfortable with each other and they are doing very well in spite of having "grandpa" teaching them. You can be a very good, very experienced and talented teacher but if you are over that age limit you will not get a job with any college nor government entity except under the rarest of circumstances. If the college is private and you know someone influential then perhaps there is a chance, but any public colleges or universities are out of the question. Hagwons have never interested me but I suppose that is just as well because I've heard they are especially turned off by older teachers.
But, not to be a complete bucket of cold water here, let me say that I have found that it is all about the personal contacts and connections I have made in my eight years here in South Korea that have paid off so well. So, in the earlier part of your career be sociable and get to know as many people as possible and you will find that you will have a variety of options opening up for you through your friends and acquaintances as the official doors of opportunity close.
I am a member of a Korean church and I have gotten many jobs and referrals through my fellow church members. This has stood me in good stead and has given me
an ever-widening group of people who know me and know that I am an ESL teacher. These days in Korea native speakers are getting rarer and that is one bright spot in the job scene. Non-governmental employers might just ignore the age limit rule to get their hands on a native speaker. It happened to me last year. I got a part-time gig with a company here that was pleased as punch to find a native speaker and overlooked my age. It still is not really clear to me how hard and fast the age-limit rule is with private companies. But I do know that it is strictly enforced with regard to any government jobs.
To my fellow "dinosaurs", I wish you all the very best in your job hunting and hope that you find the perfect job: think positively and it will manifest itself for you.
Ooh I don't think so. I have been teaching in Vietnam fulltime for 4 years now. Started when I was 55. Work permits are no problem in Vietnam. You need a YL Visa + a work permit. Having said that though......you Cam legally work in Vietnam without one. Just buy a DL Visa at travel agent, a DL let's you work anywhere in Vietnam for a Vietnamese Enterprise with no work permit.