robertobobson

Planning To Teach In Izmir Or Ankara In 2012 - Advice Welcome

24 posts in this topic

Good day to everyone,

I'm dipping my toe into the waters of this forum for the first time here, so please be gentle!

By way of introduction: I'm Bobby, a 25 year old graduate of chemistry. Whilst a fresh-faced 20 year old at University, I secured work placements in Japan - spending 5 months working as a research/development scientist in a city about an hour from Tokyo, followed by 6 months as a researcher in Okinawa. My time spent out there is probably my most fondly remembered period of my life so far.

Upon returning, I made a few crashing errors after returning to my final year of University life (living a wild lifestyle during the most important year - I'm still somewhat ashamed of the details, although there was nothing criminal!) resulting in an undistinguished end to University life, which whilst giving me a degree certificate, severely damaged my ambitions to join a company as an R&D scientist. My hopes of finding a job were not helped by a lack of money, nor by the beginning of the recession prior to my graduation in 2008.

With a few heavy debts, I settled down (relying on my mother's support) in my native UK, finding work as a night shift staffer in a well-known supermarket chain. With job prospects in my preferred field of employment limited, I settled into this, and didn't give much thought to alternative prospects. Supermarket work ceded a few promotions - although it is intensive, monotonous and uninspiring. However, my debts cleared, and my lifestyle picked up: regular holidays around Europe, and heavy-drinking weekends ("weekends" being any 2 consecutive nights off) helped break the cycle of monotony at work and home.

By accident, I found a girlfriend (who is Turkish) whilst visiting another friend in Barcelona in 2010, and we have met up regularly since. With this girl living in a separate country, I can't quite credit her for directly changing my old lifestyle, but I felt the need to improve myself for her, and clean up my act. Some of my vices were either curtailed in their entirety (smoking) or cut down significantly (drinking, spending). With a desire to mature (ever so slightly!), I started to think of ways to realistically maintain a relationship, whilst at the same time moving away from my current job.

Retail work has a surprising amount of pressure, and is largely without reward. I had always wanted a job I could enjoy doing! Towards the end of 2010, I started to explore other career paths. Before I'd decided to start University, I had at the last minute dropped my initial first choice "Primary School Teaching" course (for which I had done a week of voluntary work experience) for Chemistry, in the belief that a chemistry degree would yield more diverse job opportunities at the end.

With my wishes geared towards sustaining my existing relationship, and in moving into a job from which I could gain genuine satisfaction, the logical solution led me in the direction of TEFL/ELT. I had resisted the lingering temptation to jump into this immediately after university, having held a hope of finding an R&D position somewhere. I enrolled in a CELTA course in 2011, gaining a Grade "B", and very much enjoyed the whole experience - and wished I'd made the move sooner!

After multiple discussions with my girlfriend, numerous scenarios and possibilities were explored, shot down and considered. The concerns were obvious: Where to live? Will we last? The relationship has seemed great (with us in daily contact, and having spent 5 separate "holiday" periods totalling roughly 10 weeks living together thus far - Liverpool, back to Barcelona, Mersin, Istanbul, Belfast) but will it work without the holiday sheen? She is doing a Masters degree at University, and will almost certainly pursue a doctorate afterwards. Although she now has no classes to attend, she does have a dissertation to write. I want to move away from the UK, whilst she doesn't wish to continue living with her rather more conservative sister in Istanbul.

In the end, we have mutually agreed to spend a trial period of six months living together in Turkey, with rent/costs being split evenly, beginning in January/February 2012. The location hasn't been finalised as yet, but Izmir and Ankara are our two preferred destinations, with no particular leanings either way. At the only Turkish speaker between the two of us, she will be finding us the accommodation - whilst my sole responsibility seems to be in finding myself employment. The city we choose will depend on the availability and quality of work for me.

My search on these matters led me into this forum Posted Image

As introductions go, I appreciate that you may have found that quite lengthy! I will return with salient questions concerning employment prospects in those cities, life in those cities as a foreigner, 'working VISA' concerns, actions to take, pitfalls to avoid and so on... However, for now (I am working more of those night shift hours tonight) I'm going to sleep! That was a long post!

If anyone has any kneejerk advice, it would be very welcome!

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Hi Roberto!That is the best first post I've ever read on a forum! Great reading, and you certainly have a talent for writing. It sounds like a good plan, and it's always good to have a plan. There are 2 ways to approach your employment, firstly to apply for jobs from UK, and see which city you get a job offer from, or to simply move over to your city of choice and search from there. You must remember that the academic year starts in September, but a lot of recruitment happens from April.Being in Turkey will be easier as you can apply on the ground and be available for interviews. We have forum members in Izmir and Ankara who may be able to help specifically, I'm in Istanbul.Good luck with everything.

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Hi Bobby, interesting story. You will be able to find a decent job, either in Izmir or Ankara, you need to decide which. The CELTA is the key, and you did well to get it. If you want to come to Turkey soon, you should move fast as the job opportunities get less as the year ends. You are certainly qualified for a language school, and probably qualified for a private kolej (school for kids aged 6-18). Strictly speaking a degree in English is necessary to teach English, but I know people with degrees in all kinds of things teaching English at language schools and kolej. Language schools are more fun, but kolej provide more reliable and better paid work. Personally I would find teaching in a kolej extremely wearing, but others take to it, like Clinky. You may even find an opportunity at a university, which I would say are the best employers. Good luck in your search. It is not the best time of year to be looking for a job, but it's not the worst. Check out Daves ESL cafe for opinions on different employers. Send off some appications if there are jobs advertised, but the best way to find a job is by coming to Turkey and looking around, people like to do things face to face here, and it will give you a better impression of any establishment. tefl dot com is good for job ads.

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Welcome to our forum Rob. Fil has given you some good advice. As he said the academic year runs the same as the UK, September to August so you might not land a school or Uni job straight away but usually there are dershanes that are on the lookout for native speakers, but they are less likely to bother with getting you a work permit so if you work for one to tide you over you run the risk of being deported if caught along with the hundreds of others who risk it.

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Yes, finding a good job in Turkey is very much a case of if at first you don't succeed, try again. On the subject of language schools and work permits, if a school says they are not going to apply for your work permit, I think that is a bad sign and probably that type of place is better to avoid. If they are comfortable with employing you illegally, they may be just as comfortable with not paying you. There are language schools that do get the work permits properly, nh0828 and his girlfriend both had one, and they worked happily for a school that has had some terrible reviews on Daves. I wouldn't write off that sector, especially if is your first job in tefl. You will get much more friendly contact with the students, and it is likely to be a better introduction to life in Turkey than working at a kolej.

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I agree with you Fil. I much preferred working in a Dershane than a school as I prefer teaching adults and we often ended up in a pub after class so I got to know them better and some are still friends years later.

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Just wanted to say Hi and welcome to our forum, as you can see we have a few ESL teachers on the forum who will be able to give you good advice. Thank you also for a very informative first post as it was a good read. looking forward to reading future post from you. :)

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I appreciate the responses! For reasons that Fil pointed out, I am reluctant to work without a work permit - and the process of finding one looks very bureaucratic. However, I would regard one as a necessity.Sue, of the approaches you postulate, I believe that I will take the former: applying for jobs from within the UK, before making the move upon confirmation of employment (successful Skype interview required, then). I am currently employed in the UK - if I make the move without first securing a position, each day will be a strain on my resources - and an additional day I could have been stockpiling hard cash for the move in my soon-to-be vacated vocation. I don't want to make the leap to the next stone, unless I have a foot planted on one already. I am preparing to jump though - the CV is updated, and the obligatory "first time teacher" cover letter has been drafted. The plan of attack is as follows:1) Contact Universities (first preference), respected schools (2nd preference, and Dave's ESL cafe site will help whittle out the less desirable places) and dershanes (hmmm...) regarding potential employment. Upon discussion with my girlfriend, Istanbul is now an option - whilst expensive, there are a number of universities there. For us, it would be another stepping stone to Izmir or Ankara.2) Apply to the Turkish consulate within the UK. Requires a letter from the employer, ~£235, passport, photo, visa form and photo. A reliable, reputable employer would be able to fulfil their end of the required simultaneous application procedure.3) Wait 2 (or more) months?4) Take the trek back to London, collect working visa, then...set off for whichever destination is employing me.Sounds like fun, must get started!

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Hi Bobby, to be in Turkey with a Turkish woman is a wonderful thing, I hope it all works out for you.I'm afraid things aren't going to happen the way you describe.There is no advantage to getting a work visa in order to enter Turkey, arriving on a tourist visa is just as good, there is no point in spending a lot of time and money going to London, it would be better to head for Turkey asap. A work visa is not a work permit, and you cannot get yourself a work permit for teaching, only an employer can do that.In any case no employer will be prepared to go to the bother of sending you the necessary documents to take to the Turkish Consulate in London. If they are prepared to get a work permit, they will start the process when they have seen you and most likely after you have started work with them.I would not recommend accepting any position without seeing the school and other staff. The jobs here range from good to OK to terrible, there are many in the terrible category. It is not too difficult to spot the terrible ones, but you need to be there physically, look around and talk to loads of people. For your first job in TEFL the OK is probably the best category to hope for. Once you have got your first job and some experience under your belt it will be much easier to find a good one. That is what happened to me when I started out in Istanbul 25 years ago, and I have been incredibly happy in my TEFL career. Now I am training teachers and the situation is very similar to how it was when I started.There is plenty of work in Istanbul, it is possible to find a job and start working in a couple of days, but it is better to be more discerning than that. Two to three weeks should be enough to get started, probably longer in Ankara and even longer in Izmir. It may already be too late to get a job at a university or kolej this year. One of the rare vacancies now at a kolej may be a sign that the teacher that started the year has left with the screaming habjabs. An even rarer vacancy at a university may mean that several teachers have walked out, probably for good reasons. That means a language school will be your best bet, which should be fine. Then, with a few months experience under your belt, you will be in a good position in April or May to try for a university or a kolej, if that takes your fancy. It will also give you the chance to get used to how things are done in Turkey. People who enjoy living here usually develop quite a high tolerance of ambiguity, things are rarely cut and dried, totally sorted, the ducks won't get in line.Good luck with everything, I hope one day I may drink to your health down istiklal caddesi.

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Very good advice from Fil.

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As a simple man with simple pleasures in life I hope to offer you a few titbits of wisdom.Like most people my age I'm 24.I came out here in May '10 and started work within one day of looking but this isn't the norm and I realised I got extremely lucky with my school. The kids love me (apart from 9a on Friday afternoon) the head teachers appreciate me. Your school, dershane or whathaveyou should prepare and apply for your work permit. Don't accept anything else. I came here on a tourist visa and then applied for an RP within a few weeks of being here. It is not a prerequisite to have a self-applied work permit before you come and in my experience it takes a long time to go through and you're not guaranteed to be successful. My advice is to sniff out a few establishments and then work on from there. I work in a Kolej and enjoy it very much. I like the routine, hours and the salary that comes with no problems. There is lot's of advice on here and much of it you need to heed....however as Neil Buchanan once said - try it yourself.

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Hi Roberto,I'm working at a language school in Taksim, Istanbul, and with no experience teaching and a freshly-acquired CELTA I have to admit I couldn't be happier. My school has walked me through the residence permit & now I have a work permit too. On top of that I've made a bunch of good friends, and the students are super enthusiastic.Our school hires on a rolling basis, but the salary is nothing to brag about. It's a beginner's salary, or possibly supplemental to giving your own private lessons -- but it's a start, and if you consider it temporary, a really good start at that!! If you want to work for normal people who pay on time hit me up when if and when you come to Istanbul.Also I should note that my school, in particular, had terrible reviews all over the net. That said, I still came to check it out when I got an interview. And I can testify that life in a language school is what you make out of it -- don't believe everything you read online about them. Just visit and find out!!Best of luck!!

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I agree with atayavie (hi!!)A language school is a great place to teach when you are newly qualified. You have a range of levels and lots of students and different books to use, it's a great way to 'learn on the job'.Also, you meet lots of other teachers, and can learn from their experience too. You will get to hear of good places to apply for your next job, and places to avoid. You will then be in a better position to apply for the next academic year, some experience under your belt, and on hand for interviews.

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I steered away from a language school because Berlitz gave me the jitters. They promised me the world yet left me at the train station, weeping in the rain.I went to a Kolej and got to grips with all types of levels and disciplines. Plus I get to use the school pool and ice rink (although I can't skate for toffee). It depends on what type of teacher you are with regards to the type of discipline you want to teach in. If you want you can teach men in office blocks who ferry you around in their black Mercs or you can play football with the kids after last lesson. I also chose the school because I can be at home at 6pm everyday without evening classes or other nonsense. Plus the photocopy lady in the school does everything for you. If I remember language schools you have to wait patiently whilst Derek (made up) copies 100 pages of "please be considerate whilst using the photocopier*.I am of course waffling on.

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lol, very true, clinky.I liked working at a kolej more than at a language school too, but for a first-timer, I think it's a great place to find your feet as a teacher - getting to know adults who have paid good money for their lessons, (they are of course a little more committed than children at a private school!!) you can learn a lot about people and the culture.The down side is working evenings and w/ends, which if you're in a relationship, you may not want to commit to. Having evenings and w/ends off, (I used to finish my last lesson at 2.30pm) is a big plus for working at a kolej.

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It's not often that I'll ask for advice, and I'm very grateful for some of the responses. One or two drinks when I get out there will be in order. I'm having to steer in the direction of Istanbul. Whilst my girlfriend wanted to avoid living there, she has been told to apply within for a job at university in Istanbul as a professor's assistant. (That University job might happen sooner rather than later!)As chance would have it, I also recently found out that an old acquaintance from high school is stationed as an English teacher in Istanbul, and had done a CELTA at the same place where I did mine. She consolidated what I'm being told on this forum regarding work permits, saying that she doesn't have one - and doesn't know any other foreign teachers who have one! If confronted by a official suit, she will claim she is an English nanny to one of the students. Some of that "ambiguity", then? Incidentally, she was stung by English Time (a school which has its own sticky, and will be avoiding), and had further poor reports regarding Bilko, Berlitz (interesting!) and Wall Street Institute (who often plead for teachers on kariyer.net)She also pointed me in the direction of a mailing list on this website:http://iti-istanbul.com/...which often contacts her about jobs involving universities and the more reputable schools. My plan is now a little more simplified than before. I will hold back on the plan to email Director of Studies at university English prep schools...it will almost certainly require a greater body of experience to become an ELT instructor at a university in any case - and they are unlikely to hire someone from outside the country based on an empty CV and a Skype interview.1) Arrive in Istanbul in January. I have a contractual period of notice, and I want to spend Xmas with the immediate family. More importantly, people owe me beers...which I'll need to collect on before I go.2) Drop CVs around schools in Istanbul. Avoid the "on the spot job" schools. Stress wish to gain work permit at interviews, ensure I am not spiked by any potential banana skins in any contract offered. Be discerning in my choices, and expect to spend 2-3 weeks treading water and weighing up my options.3) Get residency permit.4) Enjoy the new life, work towards greater things :)

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Sounds like a sensible and workable plan, Roberto.Good luck I'm sure everything will work out well.

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doesn't know any other foreign teachers who have one! If confronted by a official suit, she will claim she is an English nanny to one of the students. Incidentally, she was stung by English Time (a school which has its own sticky, and will be avoiding), and had further poor reports regarding Bilko, Berlitz (interesting!) and Wall Street Institute (who often plead for teachers on kariyer.net)She also pointed me in the direction of a mailing list on this website:http://iti-istanbul.com/

Just a few comments that may help other job seekers as well as bobby. I am not questioning anything that appears above, but I am adding some other perspectives in some respects.I agree with your friend's comments about iti as a valuable source of information about jobs, they also run good CELTA and DELTA courses in istanbul. I have known the head of the organisation since we worked together in istanbul many years ago, and iti isa definitely a good organisation.About work permits, I do think teachers should expect their employers to get the work permit. I know that many teachers do not have it, but the teachers I know in istanbul who have asked for them at interview got them. I would urge teachers to be patient, though, and not be surprised if a permit takes a long time to arrive. I know how the old paranoia sets in, with suspicions that the school is lying to you, but teachers should not allow the work permit to be a source of aggro with the school administration. It is often friction of this kind that can sour the relationship with a school and spoil the whole teaching in istanbul experience, which would be a pity.As for individual schools mentioned, I think checking out daves for the latest is an important step. Clearly ET has rubbed a lot of teachers up the wrong way, and I am sorry to hear about your friend's experience, but teachers I know have been quite satisfied with English Time, were happy with the pay and were paid promptly, and got work permits even though their contract was for less than a year.Bobby also mentioned Berlitz, another school that has bad comments about it on daves. A teacher I trained on a tesol certificate course last summer started working there two months ago and is happy, reports no problem with pay or conditions.I think it is important to be careful when deciding where to work. Schools sometimes get better, sometimes get worse, a bad choice can cause a lot of unhappiness, but I also think being put off by comments that are out of date is also a pity. I think we shoud try to be fair to schools, they are not all bad. Networking is really important, both online and through personal contact in istanbul. I am no longer in istanbul myself, but I do know many teachers who are there.Finally, I don't think teachers should be worried about a confrontation with an 'official suit', at least not in istanbul, ankara or izmir. An inspector would have a bone to pick with the school administration, not the individual teacher. I know of no cases of properly qualified teachers in a proper language school falling foul of the work permit authorities. The occaisonal cases that one can find referred to on the internet seem likely to have complicating factors.

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Well if you don't get a WP have to prove you have many dollars in an account (fair enough this can be falsified) every year you renew your RP. With a WP you just pay for a renewal every year (119tl) and you get less strange looks at the airport.

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Those comments are very helpful, and alleviate a number of concerns. Thanks again.

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