Programme Pros and Cons
Since first creating the Teacher Intern Certification Programme, Language Link has had over 1500 teacher interns participate in the programme. Though the vast majority of our teacher interns have been an asset to the programme as well as the company, experience has shown that the pre-requisites noted above are not the only considerations that a potential applicant should think about before making a decision as to whether to apply. Stated differently, some of our former applicants did not consider the programme fully before deciding to take the plunge. And though the reasons for applying for the Teacher Intern Certification Programme far outweigh those for not doing so, it should not be a decision made without first giving full consideration to the nine month programme commitment that Language Link is asking the applicant to make. So as to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion as well as provide potential applicants with some food for thought concerning the pros and cons of this programme, please take time to read through the following section.
Human capital is best defined as the knowledge, skills, abilities and capacities that an individual has acquired during their lifetime (i.e., their present knowledge, skills and abilities) or will acquire at some time in the future (i.e., their capacities) that add both intrinsic and extrinsic value to them. Though this may sound like a mouthful, this concept goes to the very heart of who we are as human beings. Every time we learn something new, we increase our value to ourselves and the community. Though it is true that we often engage in learning activities that are best described as self-fulfilling e.g., snowboarding, cooking, or lifesaving, at other times we do so for the monetary value that they can bring to us in the workplace. For this reason, people take courses that they can use either to get a job or, if they have a job, to get a salary rise.
Language Link’s Teacher Internship Certification Programme has been developed with the latter purpose in mind. Though teaching English a foreign language can be a rewarding experience, you really only know if this is true for you once you’ve started teaching. On the other hand, the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired during the Teacher Internship Certification Programme are indisputable. They are immediately usable during the programme and marketable well after it is over. So if you are looking a programme that will guide you step by step to becoming a proficient teacher by helping you to develop a valuable skill-set, then the Teacher Internship Certification Programme is well worth considering.
While it is true that travel broadens the mind, tourism, even if as backpacker, provides only limited exposure to the real world out there. As the old saying goes, ‘you don’t really know someone until you live with them’. If ever this were true, it is when it comes to being abroad. Living as part of the population as versus being on the fringe allows you to develop a deeper understanding of what makes the world tick and what it takes to tick along with them. In this respect, teaching English as a foreign language has most other activities that one can undertake abroad beat hands down. You may ask why this is so.
The answer has to do with your proximity to real people. By real people, I mean a microcosm of the world in which you are living. TEFL Teachers by virtue of the professional activity in which they engage i.e., teaching, come into contact with people of most ages and from most walks of life. Though this section is not meant to fully describe this experience, TEFL teachers will find themselves standing in front of classrooms of young learners, teenagers and young (and not so young) adults who are studying at school or university or working in professions such as medicine, law, education, business, marketing, HR, finance and accounting. However, once all those people mentioned above enter a language classroom, they leave their titles at the door and become simply people … your students. Your experience doesn’t stop once your class is over. On the contrary, your experience only becomes even more profound once you find yourself walking along the street next to people who like yourself are thinking in their own unique way about family, friends, work and play. If you give yourself enough time to stand in one place, you will develop a unique understanding of how these people are both similar and different to you. It is these experiences that make the Language Link Teacher Internship Certification Programme unique and it is these experiences that will open future professional doors for you. So if you’ve had your fill of backpacking abroad and are ready to stand still long enough to truly learn about a foreign culture then the Language Link Teacher Internship Certification Programme is well worth considering.
While there may be a lot to be said for having a ‘Devil may care’ attitude, Language Link does not ascribe to it. When bringing teacher interns into the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan, Language Link does so in full accordance with the law. Though Language Link’s Teacher Intern Certification Programme is a training programme, teacher interns are provided with a real world teaching experience. In other words, the classrooms are real as are the students that enter them. Therefore, the teacher intern is an actual employee of the company and not simply ‘a student’. Unlike students who need student visas, a teacher intern needs a full working visa.
The difference, should it not be apparent, is that as an employee Language Link is responsible for seeing to it that all taxes due on the teacher interns’ salary are paid in full to the authorities. To try and avoid paying taxes is foolhardy for both the company and its teachers. Therefore, so as to make the teacher intern’s learning experience not just a positive one but a legal one as well, the company is committed to acting as a responsible business and member of the community. And while paying teachers ‘under the table’ may have the dubious distinction of allowing a teacher to earn a higher salary, it puts the teacher at risk, a risk which Language Link deems unnecessary and irresponsible. So if working in full compliance with the law in a safe, legal and comfortable professional environment is important to you, then the Language Link Teacher Internship Certification Programme is well worth considering.
No one likes to be fooled. No one enjoys regret. For these reasons, Language Link makes every attempt to make the Teacher Intern Certification Programme as transparent as possible. Our commitment to transparency is evident from the very start, to wit this page has been entitled The Pros and Cons of the Teacher Intern Certification Program. The more an applicant understands about the programme, the better the decision she or he will make. Of course, transparency does not stop with the last sentence on this page.
To help potential applicants make the best possible decision, the application process has been designed to allow those thinking of entering the programme the opportunity to explore this programme from as many angles as possible. First, the site contains an overview of the programme so that applicants can fully understand what it is that they will be learning during the one month initial training programme (ITP). In addition, Language Link has gone to great lengths to create a section of the site referred to as the TEFL Primer. This section has been designed to allow potential applicants to examine TEFL teaching by offering them a glimpse into what it means to work in the industry. To make this section as authentic as possible, we have included videos portraying Language Link teachers. Of course, reading about the programme and viewing videos, though revealing, is not the same as getting inside it yourself. Therefore, on receiving a Teacher Intern Certification Programme application, the applicant is sent a pre-interview task to complete which will allow the applicant to explore 1) the field of TEFL, 2) Language Link the company and 3) the teacher intern contract. Following completion of the pre-interview task, applicants are invited to a SKYPE/ telephone interview with a fully qualified member of the academic staff, the same staff who will supervise the applicant should she or he decide to enter the programme. During the interview, the applicant, in addition to answering questions, will have the opportunity to ask questions of the academic manager concerning teaching, life in Russia and Language Link’s teacher intern contract. With respect to the contract, teacher interns are afforded the opportunity to go through the contract prior to interviewing for acceptance to the programme. And finally, once accepted for the programme, the teacher intern will become part of an online new teacher community in which to continue to get to know the programme, the school and your fellow interns. Therefore, if you are looking for a transparent programme with no hidden caveats, then you would do well to consider Language Link’s Teacher Intern Certification Programme.
Though there are, no doubt, other reasons why someone would wish to apply for this programme, the time has come to look at the other side of the coin and discover an equal number of reasons why we ask applicants to be absolutely sure that this programme is for them. This programme has been designed with success in mind. If, however, the applicant enters the programme with two strikes against them, then no amount of design can make up for this.
While it is true that Language Link’s teacher interns receive a monthly salary, it is only sufficient to meet the teacher intern's needs while living in Russia. On completion of the four week Initial Training Programme (ITP) that Language Link provides at no cost to the intern, the teacher intern receives a monthly salary that, as previously mentioned, will be sufficient for him or her to live comfortably though not luxuriously during his or her nine month academic year stay.
In that Language Link also provides the teacher intern with free company-provided accommodation as well as pays all taxes due on the aforementioned salary and benefit package in the Russian Federation, the remuneration package can be viewed as generous. All that said, however, anyone considering applying for the teacher intern programme who is hoping to save money for graduate school or whatever will be sadly disappointed.
Though it may seem self-evident, if you are considering submitting an application for an overseas programme, then the applicant would do well to consider whether she or he can be away from his or her family and friends for an extended period of time. Language Link understands the importance of family and friends, and though nine months may not seem like a long time, it can be an eternity for someone in need of being physically close to their significant others. Therefore, if you are considering applying for the Teacher Intern Certification Program, then you would do well to consider whether you can honour the nine month teaching commitment.
If the thought of being away from home for nine months is unthinkable, then this programme is not for you. And though Language Link provides its teacher interns with up to two weeks’ time off during the winter holiday (end of December – beginning of January), most teacher interns will find flights home to be a costly expenditure. In a similar vein and of no less importance are upcoming family events that one considers too important to forego such as birthdays and weddings. A commitment to teaching has got to be a firm commitment, one that you are able to let take priority over your own personal interests.
Teaching English as a foreign language is not a 9 to 5 job. Like most language schools, Language Link is an extracurricular educational centre. Therefore, our students come to us to study English either before or after school or work. In other words, our teachers usually work split shifts. Likewise, in that our students come in all ‘shapes and sizes’, teachers can expect to teach both young learners and adults with an emphasis on the former.
Given this, potential applicants should understand this can be a challenging endeavour which will require the utmost in teacher flexibility. If you are someone who does not adapt well to change or cannot function well before 11 am, then teaching English as foreign language and the Teacher Intern Certification Programme are definitely not for you.
This is a pretty powerful statement. Though having no other alternatives is not the same as not knowing what you want to do with your life, both can be equally bad reasons for applying for the Teacher Intern Certification Programme. Being an applicant’s fallback plan is definitely not an enviable position for Language Link to be in. In such cases, the teacher intern is usually not really interested in Language Link, teaching English or Russia and eventually when confronted with life in the presence of all three will find nothing to keep him or her committed to the programme.
As importantly, choosing the teacher internship because you do not know what direction you want your life to go in or simply do not want to think about it for now can under the right circumstances both be recipes for disaster. Just because you do not know what you want to do with your life now does not mean you will not figure it out in the very near future. If your plan can wait until you have finished your nine month commitment, then as they say, no harm, no fowl. If, however, the new plan means leaving the programme early, then it will be at the expense of all who are depending upon you here in Russia: the company and your students. So if your present plan is based on avoidance, then you would do well to think twice before applying for the Teacher Intern Certification Programme.
Though there are no doubt other reasons why it might be best not to apply for this programme, these are the major issues we ask our applicant teacher interns to consider before applying for Language Link’s Teacher Intern Certification Program. If from the start, these issues are understood and the applicant is still prepared to enter and see this program through to the end, then there are very few opportunities available today that will provide the applicant with such an eye-opening and enriching experience.
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