Teaching Experience: School Vs. Language Center

teachYou’ve decided to start looking into teaching English abroad. You begin to read forums and job postings when you realize some are for schools while others are for ‘language centers’ – but what’s the difference?

Sure, you’re smart and you can deduce that a ‘school’ is a school while the ‘language center’ is extracurricular and for-profit (usually.) But as an educator, what is the actual difference? Hopefully this article will provide some insights.

Each language center is structured somewhat differently – some are phone based conversation classes, some are Skype based video classes while others are face-to-face teaching to an individual or groups of students. In certain cases a language center will offer a variety of services and expect you to be comfortable interacting with students in all of the formats.

Language centers also have different hours than schools. They often open early in the morning and operate until later in the evening. This is because much of the clientele are professionals or students looking to become more proficient in English. That said, they require hours that can accommodate their work or school schedules.

You probably have a good idea of what teaching for a school looks like. Hours are pretty standard in the range of seven or eight in the morning to three or four in the afternoon. You are usually expected to teach four or five classes per day with a few periods throughout the day to prepare materials, grade papers or decompress.

If you don’t like having a fixed schedule and prefer working in smaller groups, a language center might be a good fit for you. However, a common complaint from teachers at a language school is that it’s very “business-y.” Some teachers feel that more emphasis is placed on making money than educating people. On the other hand, there are plenty of teachers who love working at their respective language center.

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