We are pleased to share with you an interview of Ernest Wagner, the cofounder and vice-president of Promise Opens Doors. This is from his visit to the Continuing Education Training Instititute (CETI) hosted by one of our newest partners, ProTrain. His interviewer is Doug Foresta through WorkforcePods.
First, Ernest describes the history of Promise Opens Doors, starting back when he was studying in Korea. “I’m half-Korean by descent, and I had the opportunity when I was in college, many many years ago, to go over there; and I saw firsthand the demand. My background is not in English education, but being a native English speaker, people were coming up to me on the street, recognizing me as a native speaker, and saying ‘Hey can you tutor my child?’ And they were offering exorbitant amounts of money... Those offers were coming to me in the major metropolitan areas. I also had some opportunities to go in the countryside, and I just saw the huge disparity. A lot of the teachers that do travel abroad... they don’t go to the rural areas. When we saw that, we saw there was an opportunity to help. That’s really where our passion is coming from in what we do, to provide opportunity for those who wouldn’t otherwise have it.”
Ernest describes how Promise began hiring and training teachers, mainly from the US, to connect with these online students in rural areas of East Asia. “It’s been a natural continuation from offering these courses into having a teacher- training program... In hiring teachers to teach online, a lot of them had traditional classroom experience, but then teaching online was is a totally different niche. We saw we have a really unique area of expertise and wanted to work with that and help it grow.” Ultimately, our teacher-training program grows on what we’ve been doing for about fifteen years, since Promise began. We see what a great opportunity it is for English speakers to connect with others around the world. “For you and I,” Ernest continues, “speaking English is like breathing air. Who would think... we could use this to find a well-paying job and travel the world? That’s really exciting. I think for a lot of people, that would be exciting. For those who have been displaced or need to get a new job, whatever it may be, whether they’re fresh out of college, or later in their life and seeking something new… that is the market that we’re in, these are the people we want to reach out to and say ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity.’ If you’re an English speaker, get some training under your belt in how to teach English- this language that comes to you so easily - and use that to travel the world. Make an impact; unite cultures.”
They discuss the career path for people who teach English as a second language. Doug says when he thinks about teaching English as a second language, it’s like something people do for a certain duration of time, and then do something else. He wonders, “Could you actually do this for years and years to come?” Ernest replies that it is case by case. Some people - absolutely. They fall in love with teaching in another country, and they have a family there and make a career of it. For others it’s a transition from one place to another.
“For some people this is what they want,” Doug points out. “Some people like that, the flexibility of it.”
Ernest agrees, “That’s why those of us who have this skill are so fortunate. English is the language of business... Everywhere you go, if people want to do business, they need English training.” You can go to so many places, whether you’re in it for the short term or the long haul.
Doug asks how long it takes to complete our training program. “We feel that it’s rather quick. We give a time frame of four to six months…. The actual theory part of the course is three months for the coursework itself, but then we leave another one to months for practicum purposes.” Everyone has different commitments and we want to be flexible. That’s very important to us. Ernest explains that we are the first licensee of TESOL International Association, the gold standard of American TESOL certificate courses. We’re actually able to do it a little faster than them because we offer the practicum through our own online English classes. Many of the institutions offering TESOL certificate programs incorporate a practicum requirement, as actual teaching experience is the greatest teacher. Observation and teaching practicum are a requirement, but a lot of the course providers don’t have courses with English language learners. They tell the participants in the certificate course that it’s on them to find a place to do the required practicum. In our case, if you’re accepted into our program, you’ll be put into our classrooms for your practicum.
“And you help with job placement?”
“We do. Ever since we began this training program with TESOL, one of the unique things for us is that we’ve been able to establish great relationships with employers.” He notes that this is the number one question for people considering the program- what can they do with the certificate? There’s a healthy and vibrant recruiting industry. When you’re talking about going abroad to a place you really have no idea about, the recruiter makes the connection with the employer. But recruiters at the end of the day don’t know much about the job seeker, they just gather their resume and pass it along. We are a producer of these teachers, we spend 4-6 months with them. So employers really trust that we know these candidates. “We feel that’s a real strength of our program- we can really help place people in the most ideal job setting for them. We start that process early. It’s four to six months- within two weeks of starting our program, our career center is in contact with them, finding out where they want to go, and giving them information and filling them in about the local area they want to end up being at.”
Then Doug ties it together nicely, saying “It sounds really fantastic… 4 to 6 months to have a whole new career that is well paying, and be able to travel and having all these new adventures.” We absolutely] agree! Thank you Ernest and Workforce Pods!