Monday, March 18, 2013
Shamal Solutions in Al Ain United Arab Emirates (UAE)
First of all Shamal Solutions used to be called SPECTRE. A lot of bad rap this company had gotten. Who knows exactly why the name was changed, perhaps it was the reputation, or perhaps they added another partner to the business.
With that being said, all of the information you will find about SPECTRE is bad.
But what I can tell you from personal experience, is this place is good.
'Good?' you ask. 'How so?'
First of all, you need to know your personality, the one at leisure and the one at work.
I interviewed with them some months previously, and had to say I was quite impressed.
They teach military students conversational English so that they may acquire the necessary proficiency score to attend Aerospace training the USA. That made me feel good inside. A teaching situation in the Middle East actually has consequences. By far the exception rather than the rule.
A year (or perhaps more) with ESP: Aerospace English on your CV will speak volumes about your employee quality. If you can do this, you'd be kicking ass for future employment opportunities.
For this context, as I was explained in the interview, you will need to be able to conduct lessons in a PPP (Presentation-Practice-Produce) method, where you introduce concepts, target language to students, give them some guided practice, and then a further activity to practice the concept/ target language in a less guided manner. If you have obtained a CELTA in the last 5-6 years, you already know how to do this teaching method. So far easy, peas-y…
Can you handle unannounced observations? If you've got your organization skills maxed, ensure you and the students are always on task, then I say you will not be fazed by anyone observing you. Whether it be a fellow colleague or a General just coming in to see that you are doing your job. 'No problem, quality assurance. I got it,' you say.
The kicker is the probation period: 3 months, during which you will have to make monthly visa runs out of the country. Yes you read that correctly.
Worst of all, none of those trips are reimbursed. No travel arrangements made for you.
The probation period is what scared me off the job. I couldn't risk such a situation with doing visa runs and possibly not passing probation period with my wife in-country.
But after you pass probation…you get your housing allowance, which includes a yearly rental fee payment for any accommodation you choose. You can stay at one of the more upscale compounds, like Oasis Villas or the swanky 110,000 DHS/ year villas near the new mall in Saniya.
HOWEVER (And it's a big one), despite the negatives, I would apply for this job.
Despite the high-pressure situation, and the occasional, irregular shift timings (possibly 12 hour days and asked to cover for teacher absences, for which you do get compensated in extra vacation days) I would have gone full willy-nilly into this teaching post if my wife was not in-country.
I strongly urge any Americans or Canadians at home or working in different countries, apply for this post. Al Ain is a nice quiet town with a lot more activities to do in say Riyadh or Jeddah, KSA. You can get a few drinks at any of the hotels (barring the Ayla Hotel), go shopping and enjoy cheaper prices than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. And if you so fancy, can hop in a relatively priced rental car (around 2,000 DHS at Europcar) and drive to the mega-cities for a different sort of fun.
Apply! Apply! Apply!
But keep a few things in mind: make sure you got the PPP lesson down pat, you know how to elicit target language from students, introduce vocabulary well, time/ classroom management is not an issue, you don't give a flying f* who comes to observe you because you are an insanely great teacher and keep the students motivated and on-task all the time, you don't mind working extra hours because you will get extra vacation time for it, and you are coming to the UAE without dependents without worry that if you don't pass probation, than so be it. You won't want to pay for two or more people's expensive seats on an airplane back to the USA or Canada.
If this is you, send your CV to Dr. Alan; he's the man. Straightforward, down-to-business, totally respectable.