My name is Lamia , my BA major is in ESL , I am working on getting an MA in ESL Teacher Leadership . I am a US Citizen , but not a native speaker . I am very interested in teaching in the Middle East countries, unfortunately I have noticed that in jobs opening they only ask for native speakers !
I love teaching ESL, but at the same time , i don't want to waste my money on the MA program and then won't be able to get a job. I really need an expert advice, I am positive I will get some good ones because I have seen how people are nice and cooperative in this forum .
Thank you very much in advance and I will be waiting for your advices and comment :-)
I can only give my experience as a new teacher in Vietnam.
Officially, 99 percent of employers want a native speaker. Part of it is obvious (parents are more comfortable with people who are born speaking English to teach their children English). If they see that you are not a native speaker, they will throw your CV and application out.
The not so obvious part is the marketing aspect...when new teachers are introduced, the parents here want to see the "white" teacher. I hope that doesn't come across as racist to anyone, just telling it like it is here in Hanoi.
This creates several problems for both you, me and the students! Firstly, you miss out on many opportunities because you are automatically dismissed for not being a native speaker. I received a lot of rejections because although I'm a native speaker, I'm of Asian descent (so I was tested a lot before being accepted). And because some education centers are less than honest, they will take a "white" teacher, regardless of where they're from and advertise them as a native speaker. I know of schools here who are advertising Germans and Brazilians as native speakers.
Going back to your specific question: here in Hanoi, you will have a very difficult time making TEFL a career. However, there is some hope. Recently, many of the centers here have realized that Filipino teachers, for example, make excellent teachers. Although they are not native speakers, most Filipinos speak English fluently. They are also very hard workers because they often move abroad to support their families at home. So they don't just work here for a few months and leave (which is the reputation of native speakers around here); they make careers out of teaching ESL. I even heard a recent case where a Filipino beat out several native speakers here for a coveted university job. So it's not impossible.
To end this long post, I think that if you do decide to make it a career, you should do all you can to pad your CV/resume. Get the MA degree and a CELTA certification. The CELTA is considered the gold standard and is taken very seriously here. You will still have a tough time but I think you can do it.