Teaching English Abroad - An Overview
- Would you like to spend a year or two in Tokyo, Shanghai or Buenos Aires?
- Do you dream of a life where you walk to work every day along the cobblestone streets of Prague or Florence, or through the colorful street markets of Bangkok or Saigon?
- Do you want the satisfaction of performing a valuable public service, assisting others in achieving their own life goals, all while traveling the world and having the adventure of a lifetime?
- If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” and you are a fluent English speaker, then teaching English abroad could be right for you.
With English taking hold as the international language of commerce and culture, hundreds of millions of students across the globe are participating in English language classes each year. From Seoul and Shanghai to Milan and Santiago, there is an unprecedented demand for English instructors. While many people worldwide confront the most challenging job market in generations, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) provides both viable and accessible job opportunities as well as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the world while gaining invaluable work experience.
A globally recognized TEFL / TESOL Certification from International TEFL Academy can be your ticket to an exciting and rewarding job teaching English abroad.
A TEFL / TESOL Certification will give you the qualifications necessary to teach English abroad professionally in thousands of schools and language institutes around the world. Over 250,000 English speakers are go overseas to teach English abroad each year and with over 1 billion English learners across the world, the demand for teachers will only grow. By gaining your TEFL / TESOL Certification through International TEFL Academy, you will be ready to join them and live your dream of going abroad to teach, travel and explore.
“TEFL” is the acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or simply, English language instruction for non-native speakers. Also known as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or English Language Teaching (ELT), the field of TEFL/TESOL is one of the fastest growing educational fields in the world, presenting thousands of excellent professional opportunities in all corners of the globe to native and fluent English speakers who achieve their TEFL/TESOL certification. These terms are essentially interchangeable in the international English teaching market, our certifications list both terms.
Welcome to International TEFL Academy
Based in Chicago, Illinois and currently training over 3,000 new teachers a year, International TEFL Academy is founded on the principles that everyone should have the opportunity to live abroad as an English teacher.
We offer the most state-of-the-art Online TEFL certification courses available as well as onsite courses in over 25 fantastic destinations around the world, all of which meet or exceed the highest international standards and are recognized by the field’s leading accrediting bodies.
In addition, we provide personal pre-enrollment advice to every student to assist them in achieving their certification and all of our students and graduates also receive free lifetime job search guidance. Our highly trained and experienced staff, each of whom has lived, traveled and worked abroad extensively, is dedicated to providing you with the expertise and guidance you need to live your dream of going abroad to teach, travel and explore.
International TEFL Academy provides accredited TEFL courses which meet the standards set by the British Council (the world's largest employer of English teachers). Our ITA onsite courses and in cooperation with our international affiliates and partners, are all internationally accredited by a variety of leading academic bodies. As a U.S.-based institute, we are also held to U.S. educational, ethical and professional standards.
Read more about International TEFL Academy's Vision Statement.
Teach English Abroad and See the World
By earning your certification from International TEFL Academy, you will gain a highly marketable and mobile professional qualification that will enable you to work, live and travel in all corners of the globe. Teaching opportunities vary widely and chances are that you can find a position that suits your own needs and goals. If you prefer working with younger learners, you can teach children and adolescents.
Or, if you seek a corporate environment, “Business English” is in extremely high demand across the globe; while those with a humanitarian inclination can also find opportunities on every continent. Most standard contracts for teaching English abroad are 12 months; however 6 month contracts can be found in numerous countries and for those looking for even shorter endeavors, summer camps and schools offer a bounty of opportunities. Teaching English abroad is also a profession you can undertake on a part-time basis and private tutoring offers great opportunities to earn additional income, create your own flexible schedule and to work with students on a personal basis.
What can I gain by earning my TEFL certification and teaching English abroad?
A rare opportunity to truly immerse yourself in a foreign culture, where you will be a valued and integral member of the local community.
Make a positive and life-changing impact on your students’ lives by providing them with an educational experience that will enable them to succeed in achieving their personal, educational, and professional goals.
Earning potential and a highly marketable skill in economically uncertain times.
The ability to adapt to a new environment and culture where the language, religion and traditions may be different from your own.
Build friendships around the world.
Invaluable international work experience, increasingly desired by employers in the globalized economy of the 21st century.
Experience new foods, music and other cultural interests.
Can I teach English abroad?
All native and fluent English speakers, regardless of their academic, ethnic, or socio-economic backgrounds have an opportunity to share in this experience. The common factor bringing our graduates together is the desire to experience new cultures and travel the world.
But I don’t have a college degree – can I still teach English abroad?
YES! Certainly having a college degree will avail more opportunities to you, but even without a four-year college degree, a native English speaker who earns their TEFL/TESOL Certification from International TEFL Academy can still teach English abroad in dozens of countries around the world, including Spain, Russia, China, Argentina and many countries in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
To learn more about teaching abroad and TEFL Certification go to our form to request a brochure.
Will I be able to teach English abroad even if English is not my first language?
YES! While many schools and schools in certain countries will only hire certified teachers from native English-speaking countries, if you are fluent in both written and conversational English, demand for English teachers is so high that you too can find opportunities around the globe, particularly if you are an E.U. citizen looking to teach in Europe, or if you wish to teach in your home country.
What if I don’t speak the local language, can I still teach English abroad in a foreign country?
YES! You will be hired because you are a trained English teacher, not because you do or don’t speak the native language of your students. In fact, you want to avoid speaking their language in the classroom as immersion in an all-English environment is a key component to building their English skills.
I have no teaching experience or background in education – will I be hired to teach English abroad?
YES! Ninety percent of those who earn a TEFL Certification from International TEFL Academy and go abroad to teach English have no background in teaching or education. You will gain all of the skills you need to succeed as a professional English teacher in your TESOL Certification course.
How big is the job market for teaching English abroad?
According to the British Council, approximately 1.5 billion non-native English speakers take some form of English class each year, including more than 300 million in China alone.
An estimated 250,000 English speakers work abroad as English teachers in more than 40,000 schools and language institutes around the world.
Eighty percent of English teachers in non-native English speaking countries – particularly in public schools – are not native English speakers themselves because there are simply not enough native English speaking teachers to meet demand.
In each major European city like Prague, Madrid and Milan, approximately 3,000 – 5,000 English teachers are working at any given time; each of these cities host 100-250 private language institutes with each school typically employing between 5-20 teachers at a time. These numbers typically double in major Asian cities like Tokyo and Shanghai.
An estimated 20,000 native English speakers work as English teachers each year in Seoul, South Korea alone.
Where Can I Teach English Abroad?
Each year hundreds of thousands of Americans, Brits, Canadians, New Zealanders, and Australians, in addition to thousands of fluent non-native speakers, can be found teaching English abroad in nearly every major city across the globe. A native English speaker with a four-year degree and a TEFL/TESOL Certification from International TEFL Academy can find opportunities in as many as 100 countries around the world from Asia, Europe and the Middle East to South and Central America, even Africa (though opportunities are more limited).
Even without a four-year degree, a native English speaker with a TEFL Certification from International TEFL Academy can realistically find great opportunities in dozens of countries around the world including Spain, Russia, China, Brazil and many nations in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Non-native speakers who are fluent both in written and spoken English can also find opportunities in a wide variety of countries, particularly E.U. citizens looking to work within Europe, and those who wish to teach in their home country.
Please check out our exclusive country teaching job chart and read the country profiles on our website to learn more about teaching in particular countries.
Combining an enormous population, a deep-rooted commitment to education and widespread economic prosperity, Asia is far-and-away the largest market on the globe for English language instruction. Nearly half of all English teaching opportunities can be found here as tens of thousands of teachers are employed each year in Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea. In addition, newly ascendant Southeast Asian “Economic Tigers” like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia represent some of the fastest growing job markets on Earth.
In addition to fantastic history, deep-rooted cultures and spectacular natural beauty, Asia also offers some of the most lucrative opportunities in the world as a typical native-speaking English teacher with a TEFL/TESOL Certification from International TEFL Academy can expect to save 30%-50% of their salary after expenses.
Some points about teaching English in Asia:
- In Korea, English teachers typically can save between $10,000 and $15,000 a year after expenses, while in Japan and Taiwan, savings often range from $5,000 to $8,000 annually. You can also save a substantial amount of your salary in many Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam, which offer fantastic combinations of culture, cuisine, history and natural beauty.
- A four-year degree is typically required (though not always in China, or in developing countries like Cambodia), and teachers from native English speaking countries are strongly preferred.
- Most positions in developed Asian countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China, are obtained by interviewing in advance from your home country, so most teachers have a job lined up before departing for the region.
- Asia offers more opportunities to teach children than any other region.
Contact International TEFL Academy today to speak with an advisor to find out about our online course, multiple on-site TEFL classes or request a brochure to learn about TEFL training courses and a comparison of the most popular countries to teach English.
The job market for teaching English abroad in Europe has always been strong, but with the economic and cultural integration brought on by the emergence of the European Union, the use of English as a common language of culture and commerce has increased several times over, and with it, the demand for certified English teachers. Job markets are also booming in Central and Eastern Europe where countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, and Hungary (to name just a few), are still working to reintegrate with the rest of world after decades behind the Iron Curtain, and have made learning English a top priority for students, workers and business professionals.
Some points about teaching English abroad in Europe:
- Many jobs entail 10 to 12 month contracts. September, October and January are busy hiring periods for most countries in Europe, with many contracts ending in early July. January is a secondary season to start employment.
- Summer camps in Europe offer great opportunities for those looking for shorter commitments.
- A typical English teacher will make enough to support himself/herself comfortably, but should not expect to save substantial sums.
Offering a mind-boggling combination of spectacular natural beauty, diverse cultures and exciting cities, Latin America has emerged as one of the most popular destinations in the world for teaching English abroad. Some of the more popular places to teach are Costa Rica; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the great cities of Brazil like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. While salaries are not as high as they are in Asia or the Middle East, the low cost of living makes the region attractive from a financial perspective.
Schools in Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern nations all seek certified English teachers. In many Arab nations, university classes are taught in English and the region’s location at the crossroads of East and West has made cities like Dubai major hubs of commerce and leisure where English is the norm. In wealthy Gulf States in particular, most positions are offered to experienced teachers with bachelors’ or masters’ degrees in education, in addition to a TEFL / TESOL certification.
Those who qualify for such positions will enjoy some of the highest salaries in the field as pay can range from $2,500 - $6,000 a month, plus free housing and flights to and from the teacher’s home country. Jobs are somewhat easier to come by for those with just a four-year degree (or even less) and a TEFL/TESOL Certification in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey, where the pay is considerably lower, but the cost of living is low and the opportunities for immersion in one the world’s great regions for culture and history are innumerable.
Some points about teaching English abroad in the Middle East:
- The vast majority of positions in the Gulf Countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman) are obtained through interviews in advance.
- Teachers should expect to adhere to local cultural norms, which can vary dramatically from what you may be used to in the West. Within the region, restrictions on personal freedoms like style of dress and the right to consume alcohol can vary widely from country to country, or even from region to region within a particular country.
- The presence of large expatriate communities, where teachers can socialize with other westerners makes the transition for newcomers to the region much easier.
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Take some time to consider your motivations for teaching English abroad. When considering where you might go abroad, think about what really is important to you both on a personal level and a professional level, and remember that the more research you conduct on your own, the more likely you are to find a destination and teaching position that meets your needs and goals.
- Research a variety of destinations and weigh the pros and cons.
- Don’t be afraid to consider countries or regions of the world that you may not have considered previously or that you know little about.
- Is it important that you make enough money to save, or do you just need to earn enough to get by?
- Do you want to live in a country with four seasons like Korea, Japan, and most countries in Europe, or do you prefer the tropical climes of Costa Rica, Vietnam or Thailand?
- Do you want to live and work in a country where you can work on your Spanish or French, or are you interested in teaching in a country “off the beaten track” that remains untouched by mass tourism.
What types of classes will I be teaching, and who will my students be when I teach English abroad?
English students around the globe hail from all backgrounds, ages and walks of life. Depending on where you teach and which school you work for, you may teach corporate executives from Fortune 500 corporations, clerks from the local hotel, or university students. Or, you may find yourself tutoring local housewives or possibly teaching children in public schools. Bear in mind that your International TEFL Academy certification course will provide you with the skills necessary to teach a broad variety of students.
Adult learners represent the largest segment of students that most English teachers work with when they go abroad to teach English, particularly in Europe and Latin America where foreigners do not typically teach in public schools, where most young learners conduct their English studies
Types of Adult students:
- Business professionals, corporate executives and employees– some companies will contract with a local language school to bring a teacher onsite to provide instruction to employees; others will send their employees to a class at the school.
- Small business owners who conduct business with foreign firms in English, or who work extensively with English-speaking customers.
- Those working in tourism and the hospitality industry.
- University students looking to study abroad, or who are conducting research in fields dominated by English.
- IT and the Web- Anybody working in technology or looking to take full advantage of the Internet.
- Entertainment - Those looking to enjoy English-language movies, books, music, television and other media.
Most adult English language learners either work or go to school, so be prepared to teach classes in the late afternoon and evenings, and possibly on weekends as well. Many adult learners also seek private lessons, which offer teachers a great opportunity to earn additional income and work with students on a more personal level.
Teaching English to Children:
Asia is a booming market for those looking to teach children, where, unlike in Europe and Latin America, public schools are increasingly seeking native English teachers to provide high quality English language instruction. In addition, in countries like Korea, many parents enroll their children in language classes at private language institutes after school to supplement the instruction they receive in school. If you work with such students in a private language institute setting, expect to be giving most of your lessons in the late afternoon and early evening.
In Latin America and Europe where foreigners do not typically teach in public schools where most young learners conduct their English studies, there are fewer opportunities, however it certainly is possible to work with younger learners. Many parents will seek private lessons for their children to get a head-start on their English proficiency or to assist them in passing a college entrance exam in English known as the TOEFL. English language summer camps are another popular venue where language training is provided to younger learners in Europe, Latin America and Asia as well.
What sort of school will I teach in?
Private language schools:
As foreigners are not typically hired to teach children in public schools in most countries, the majority of opportunities for TEFL/TESOL graduates will be in private language schools. These are typically privately owned enterprises specializing in language training (usually English), and can range in size and scope from mom-and-pop businesses with a single classroom, to large multi-national chains of schools operating dozens of branches in multiple countries.
Large cities in Europe, Asia and Latin America typically host anywhere from 50 – 250 such schools. Some will specialize in areas such as business English or young learners, while others may offer general classes to students of all levels and abilities. Many classes taught in such venues focus on conversational English, which many students find difficult to master and which they need for professional reasons, but as a teacher you must be prepared to cover all aspects of the English language.
Schedules vary, but on average you will teach for 25 - 30 hours a week with 12-15 hours of prep work. A common shift is from 2 – 9 p.m. with some weekend work to accommodate students looking to study English after a standard work or school day. Class sizes vary, but typically range from 2 – 15 students.
To learn more about teaching abroad and TEFL Certification go to our form to request a brochure.
In many Asian countries public school systems hire native English speakers to work as assistant language teachers at grade schools and junior high schools. Classes typically run from Monday through Friday, averaging 22 to 30 hours a week of classroom time, and 12 to 15 hours a week of lesson planning. Expect an average workday to begin at 8 a.m. and last until 4 p.m.
Private tutoring opportunities:
Private lessons are in high demand in most locales around the world and offer great opportunities to earn extra income and to get to know students on a more personal level than is possible in a typical classroom setting.
Summer camps in Europe, Latin America and Asia offer four to six week summer teaching jobs in language camps for school aged children. These opportunities are great for those looking for shorter stints overseas as well as those who enjoy working outdoors with children.
- Experienced TEFL / TESOL teachers with advanced degrees may find openings at the university level. These positions provide opportunities to work with advanced students and typically pay higher than positions in private language institutes or public schools.
Non-governmental organizations, including charitable organizations and mission-based groups often sponsor TEFL / TESOL teachers to travel abroad to teach English.
How much money can I make teaching English abroad?
Your income as an English teacher will depend on your position, qualifications and the country where they teach. Wages are typically, though not always, paid in local currency. Check out our country chart and country profiles on our website for more detailed information for particular countries.
Asia - English teachers typically save between 30%-50% of their salary, which can range from $200-$ 300 a month in a country like Thailand to $1,000 or more a month in Korea.
Middle East – TEFL/TESOL graduates with extra experience and qualifications (typically a Masters degree and some professional background in education) will enjoy some of the highest salaries in the field as pay can range from $2,500 - $6,000 a month, plus free housing and flights to and from the teacher’s home country. In less developed countries like Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Turkey, foreign English teachers typically earn enough to support themselves comfortably, but should not expect to save much, if at all.
Some countries provide national health insurance and paid vacation time. Some other countries employers provide free accommodation and utilities to help teachers with living expenses. Another perk could include the reimbursement of airfare. Offers vary from one destination/country to another. International TEFL Academy highly recommends researching your placement choices in advance to make an educated decision. It is of paramount importance to consider the cost of living in the country you want to work in.
What will my job entail and what will my responsibilities be?Remember your foreign language teacher in high school? Your job as an English teacher will be very similar as you will be expected to instruct your students in all aspects of the English language from reading, writing, listening and speaking to grammar and pronunciation. A large part of your job, particularly in the area of conversational English will be to open the eyes and ears of your students to the English language as it is actually used by native speakers, as opposed to the more theoretical version of English they have probably been learning in school.
For many, they need to learn English so that they can converse with business partners, clients and customer, and this means they need to be exposed to spoken English at its natural speed. You will also be expected in many cases to provide an introduction to the culture of native English speaking countries like the U.S. and the U.K.
What will be expected of me as an English teacher overseas?
- Full mastery of the English language, including all aspects of reading, writing, grammar and pronunciation, and ability to teach and explain them to your students.
- An ability to provide instruction to students of all backgrounds and levels of proficiency.
- Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of major teaching methodologies and approaches used throughout the field of TEFL/TESOL – many schools will inquire about your knowledge of these subjects when you interview and you will be expected to implement their curriculum using their preferred methodology.
- Expect to spend 25 - 30 hours a week in the classroom with 12-15 hours of prep work; schedules can vary widely, but in private language institutes, a common shift may run from 2 – 9 p.m., while in public schools, a typical workday for an English teacher mirrors a typical school day in the U.S. or Britain with hours from 8 a.m. to 4-5 p.m.
- The ability to accurately monitor and assess the proficiency and progress of your students.
- The skills to address the individual learning needs of all students.
- Expertise in classroom management. In most private language schools, class sizes range from 2 – 12 students, while in public schools, classes can range from 10 to 40 students.
- The ability to design lesson plans, exams, in-class exercises, and homework assignments.
To learn more about teaching English abroad and TEFL Certification go to our form to request a brochure.
I am a native English speaker – do I need to get certified?
YES! While your abilities to converse in English as a native speaker are critical to your ability to get hired as an English teacher, earning your certification is more important than ever, not only to gain a certification that many schools require as a matter of course, but also to succeed in providing your students with a quality educational experience that will enable them to reach their own goals and aspirations. Consider the following points:
- Examine the job description above and ask yourself the following:
– Without proper training will I have the skills to teach English to beginning, intermediate and advanced students?
- Will I know how to design lesson plans, exams and classroom exercises that will actually enable my students achieve their goal of learning the English language?
-Will I be able to manage a class of 10 – 30 students?
-Will I be able to explain the ins and outs of English grammar, or even have the ability to diagram a sentence to help my students understand English syntax?
- Reputable schools, both public and private, throughout the world will not even consider you as a teaching candidate if you have not earned an internationally accredited TEFL/TESOL Certification.
- While interviewing for positions, you will be asked to display a strong grasp of basic teaching skills like lesson planning, curriculum development, and teaching methodology, that can only be gained through taking a quality TEFL/TESOL Certification course.
- In this age of tightening job markets, you must give yourself every advantage and without your TEFL/TESOL certification, you will certainly put yourself at a distinct disadvantage.
I am already a certified teacher – do I still need to get my TEFL/TESOL Certification?
Unless you are a certified ESL teacher, or you have an actual university degree in TESOL, you should definitely get your TEFL/TESOL Certification. While any professional or academic background in teaching and education will give you a huge leg-up in job markets around the world, most schools will still want to see proof that you have received professional training specifically in the field of teaching English as a foreign language. Like all fields, teaching to non-English speakers requires a specific set of skills and knowledge. In addition, the job search guidance you receive with your training from International TEFL Academy will make all the difference in your ability to navigate international job markets and avail yourself to the sorts of job opportunities that will meet your professional and personal needs.
Why should I get certified through International TEFL Academy?
Based in Chicago, Illinois, International TEFL Academy is dedicated to providing the highest quality TEFL training possible and to making our students’ dreams of going abroad to teach, travel and explore a reality. Our highly trained and experienced staff has spent years working, traveling and living abroad and it is our belief that we can make this dream a reality for others not only by offering the finest training courses, but by providing personal guidance and expertise to each student so that they enjoy the best possible experience while teaching English abroad. We train more than 3,000 people a year to teach English abroad and our graduates are currently teaching in 80 countries worldwide.
What do you gain by earning your certification through International TEFL Academy?
- Internationally accredited and recognized certification courses– Our training courses, both online and onsite have met the rigorous standards set by the most prestigious accrediting bodies in the field of TEFL and TESOL and will qualify you to teach in thousands of schools and language institutes around the world.
- Modern Curriculum -- Designed by leading scholars and experts, International TEFL Academy’s certification courses will provide the comprehensive skill sets required to succeed as a professional English teacher and incorporate at leasd 6 hours practicum to provide all students with hands-on experience in a live teaching environment.
- Highly Qualified and Experienced Instructors -- All International TEFL Academy instructors, for both online and onsite courses, are highly qualified and experienced and very often hold a Masters or a PhD in TESOL or a related field.
- Comprehensive pre-enrollment counseling, job search guidance and personal customer service for all students and graduates-- Excellent service including pre-enrollment counseling and advice, pre-departure materials and support, and lifetime job search guidance, provided by experienced advisors who have lived and/or taught abroad.
- International locations – International TEFL Academy offers partnerships with some of the most respected international schools and institutes, as well as onsite course locations in over 25 countries spanning the globe, including Brazil, Spain, Thailand, Costa Rica, Italy, Russia and others.
Profile of an International TEFL Academy student:
Who takes a TEFL / TESOL certification course to teach around the world?
- Age: Students range in age from 17 to 77.
- Educational background: Approximately 80 % have a four -year degree and five percent have an advanced degree. 20% of our students have not yet completed a four-year degree.
- Gender: 50/50 male to female ratio
- Overseas experience: 50% of our students have never traveled abroad prior to going overseas to teach English. This is their first world adventure.
- Previous teaching experience: Less than 10% of our TEFL / TESOL students have previous teaching experience or an academic background in education. International TEFL Academy training will provide you with the skills you need to succeed as a professional English teacher.
- The international teaching market requires that a professional foreign language teacher have a TEFL / TESOL certification.
How do I get started?
Give us a call! 773-634-9900
Before you ever sign up for a course or apply for a job, we highly recommend speaking with an International TEFL Academy advisor. Our advisors have years of experience working with aspiring English teachers of all academic and professional backgrounds and they can assist you in choosing the best certification option and strategy for finding teaching opportunities wherever it is in the world that you want to teach.
Basic Steps to earn your TEFL/TESOL Certification and going abroad to Teach English
1. Speak with your TEFL Advisor, to learn more about eligibility requirements, the certification process and how the English teaching market works around the world.
2. Enroll in an International TEFL Academy internationally accredited TEFL/TESOL certification course and earn your certification. NOTE: Particularly if you earn your certification course online, you DO NOT need to make a final determination where you want to teach prior to beginning your course.
3. Take advantage of International TEFL Academy’s free, lifetime job search guidance and work one-on-one with expert advisors in our Student Affairs Department on your international resume and cover letter. Research all of the various options that are open to you and begin the interview process with schools in the country or countries where you want to teach. If you are taking an onsite international course, you will work with your onsite instructors on lining up interviews with local schools.
4. Pack your bags and begin your adventure abroad as an English teacher!
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and to have an advisor assist you!