I have been getting a lot of questions about working at METU NCC (Middle East Technical University Northern Cyprus Campus) School of Foreign Languages, especially from the fourth-year students on our main campus. I have tried to answer them to my knowledge, but some of them, I thought, can be better answered by someone who is more qualified to comment.
In that sense, I have asked Dr. Eda Işık Taş, the director of School of Foreign Languages (SFL) at METU NCC, some questions about the recruitment process and the working conditions here at METU NCC SFL, and she kindly answered them. The following is what I remember from that conversation mixed with my own comments and feelings.
As some of our readers already know, the recruitment process includes a written exam, a demo lesson and an interview, all of which aim to assess the language proficiency, methodological awareness and teaching skills of the candidates.
The first thing we talked about was the written exam, which is the first part of the recruitment process. The exam is an advanced proficiency test of English which includes a cloze test, word formation questions and an essay. The essay is about teaching and/or learning languages. Candidates might be asked to either agree or disagree with a given statement or to explain or analyze a certain concept related to ELT.
All the candidates who take the written exam are given a demo task, but of course only those who are successful in the exam will be eligible to do the demo lesson, which is the second part of the process. The demo task will probably be different each year, but it always involves preparing a lesson plan and teaching a section of the plan in the demo lesson. Some brief information about the student profile is also provided in the demo task so that you can prepare your lesson plan accordingly. The members of the search committee act as students in the demo lessons (they may or may not be very good students, though!). This helps them see if you are able to establish a close rapport with the students and cater to their needs.
The next part of the recruitment process is the interview, which takes place right after the demo lesson. In the interview, the search committee might ask questions about your résumé i.e. they might ask for elaboration on some points. You might also answer some questions about your lesson plan and/or asked to justify certain things you have done in the demo lesson.
Some tips for the demo lesson and the interview
Dr. Işık Taş emphasized that as in all job interviews, the impression you leave on the search committee is very important. You need to be self-confident and well-prepared. You should prepare a professionally designed lesson plan that can cater to the particular student profile you are assigned to. To make sure that your timing is accurate, you can rehearse teaching the lesson beforehand and make necessary adaptations. Needless to say, your materials should be suitable for the level of the students. And the ultimate two questions you should ask yourself are “Does learning take place at the end of this lesson?” and “Will the learners be engaged in the lesson?” Putting a little creativity and humor into it will sure help your lesson achieve these goals. It is also important to show the committee during the demo lesson and the interview that you have a positive attitude towards teaching and you are really aware of your academic potential as a language teacher.
While designing your lessons, do not hesitate to show what you are capable of as long as you don’t go overboard and make it unrealistic. You might rest assured that you will be evaluated by a professional committee who can appreciate your hard work and knowledge in your field.
Also essential is your ability to deal with unexpected problems. As it happens in a real classroom, sometimes things just don’t go the way you want them to. In such a case, it is probably better to teach whatever the students need at that time rather than what is in your lesson plan since your aim is to teach the students and not the plan or the textbook.
Another question I asked was if having little or no experience was a disadvantage especially for new graduates. You will be pleased to know the answer was no. As long as you present yourself as a competent teacher and speaker of English in the demo lesson and the interview, lack of experience will not stand in your way. You might also know that a lot of people, including myself, have started working here at METU NCC SFL without having any formal teaching experience other than their internships. It might be relevant here to mention that during your first year, you will need to take ICELT if you have little/no experience and you have not taken a similar course before. It will hopefully help you deal with difficulties that you might have to face during your first year. Having some experience would only be decisive in the unlikely case that you and another applicant receive the exact same score from the recruitment exam. In such a case, the applicant with more qualifications would probably be favored.
Before coming to the interview, it is essential to do some research about the institution. Go to the vacancy announcement on the website and read everything very carefully so that you don’t ask questions that can easily be answered with a little research on the Internet since asking that kind of a question would reflect badly on the impression you give. Read especially the first section about how many hours you are expected to teach and what other duties you will have etc.
Working conditions at METU NCC SFL
The conditions are a little different from those on the main campus. First of all, it is a full-time job and instructors are expected to be available in their offices during working hours, so it is not “teach and go”. 🙂 Although it might change depending on the number of students, classes and staff, newly recruited instructors generally teach beginner groups.
Also different from the recruiting system in Ankara, here at METU NCC, the School of Foreign Languages does not post two different vacancy announcements for the Modern Languages and English Preparatory Programs. All instructors are hired to work for the School of Foreign Languages and they are assigned to either one of these programs according to their qualifications after they sign a contract with the school.
Life on campus & in Cyprus
One of the biggest questions you have in mind is probably about accommodation on campus. As you can see in the vacancy announcement, on-campus accommodation is provided to full-time academic staff. Although this is not officially guaranteed and subject to availability I have been told, everyone who has demanded on-campus accommodation has been provided an apartment or a house so far.
The campus is located on the edge of the village of Kalkanlı approximately 50 km west of Lefkosa (Nicosia) and 6 km north of Guzelyurt (Morphou). Travel time by car from campus to Guzelyurt, the nearest city, is seven minutes, to Girne (Kyrenia) is forty-five minutes and the journey to Lefkosa is thirty minutes.
One last piece of information I feel obliged to share with you is that although buses and shared taxis are available, public transportation is quite limited throughout the island, so you might need to have a car to travel easily. There are of course other challenges of living in a small island country, particularly because of the political status of Northern Cyprus, but listing them here would make this post even longer.
To read more about working and living conditions (and salaries 🙂) here at METU NCC, go to this page on the university webpage.
Al in all, even though you might have to face the challenges of living in a different country and starting a new life, I think working at METU NCC is a great start to your teaching career. Also, Cyprus is a great place for people like me who love nature and don’t want to get into the rat race in big cities.