We now live in a world once thought crazy enough to be Science Fiction. The combined knowledge of humanity is accessible by a few swipes of your fingertips. We live in a world where cars are beginning to drive themselves, crypto-currency now exists and we have man made technology living on alien planets. Oh! Lets not forget the Sea Hawks won a Super Bowl. The world is becoming smaller and the people in it need a way to span the globe, bridge cultural gaps and communicate with each other. Where am I going with this? English. It's hard to believe this language, whose origin began in the backwoods of Europe so long ago, has risen to become one of the "global languages" of the modern world.
|Shinjuku Tokyo, Japan|
Nearly 3 years ago I became a teacher; More specifically an English teacher living abroad. In those years I've had experiences that have altered my ideas of what life is, how it should be lived and opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities this line of work, and more importantly this world, have to offer. Here are my top 5 reasons you should give teaching English as a foreign language a shot!
|Some of my youngest students throwing up the dubs|
#5 To Learn More About Your Language
If you take the journey and begin teaching English abroad you will indeed have to learn more about the language. At first you'll think, "I`m a native speaker! I know everything I need to know to speak fluently. Teaching it will be a breeze!" Then someone will ask you a question that you do not have the answer to: "Why do we need articles (a, an, the, some)? Why does English have 3 theres and 3 to's (they're, there, their/ too, to, two)? Why do you say 'turn on the light' when you aren't turning something?" Many of these questions will come up. Sometimes you will know the answer, sometimes you will guess and other times you will simply have to tell them, " I don't know..." and if you're a good teacher this will be followed by, "... but I'll find out!"
You'll begin to think about the language as it truly is. Something that is alive, something that continues to evolve as the world around it races ever faster into the future. This can be a scary thing at times. We often take our first language for granted. We know how to use it but not how it works. If you want to be a successful teacher, or more successful at using your language, learn how it works!
|Sky Tree Tokyo, Japan|
|Kenchoji Temple in Kamakura, Japan|
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - Saint Augustine
I'm a big believer in the aforementioned quote. Imagine you are a humble goldfish living your life inside a tank in some home in suburbia. For you, life revolves around getting fed and swimming around the only world you know. Sure, you can see outside of it, you can gain some insight into the outside world from the feisty teenager who plays his/her music too loud for your little fish ears. Alas, you only have the faintest understanding of what's out there. If you are able to read this post you are truly blessed. You live in a world where you can learn just about anything. You can see your house from space, watch cat videos endlessly on YouTube or learn the history of the Samurai on audio books But, you can't truly live the experiences the outside world has waiting for you unless you get up off your bum and get out there. If you don't you'll never know what the streets of Seoul smell like after the rain, how the lovely Japanese toilets warm your buns during the winter or how fulfilling it is when someone who in the past didn't even know you existed now hangs on your every word and calls you teacher or sensei.
|An older gent enjoying the Lotus lantern festival activities in Seoul, South korea|
Teaching abroad isn't just a learning experience for your students but also for you. You'll quickly learn the taboo's (for heavens sake don't stick your chopsticks in rice while eating with Japanese people), the curse words (especially you folks braving the wild lands of Korea), and just how similar humans are despite the culture gap. Of course not everything will come quickly or easily. It will take you years to master their language, to understand the customs, and most importantly to stop trying to compare your culture with theirs. Hopefully you'll grow to see all sides of both their culture and your own: the good, the terrific, the bad, the horrific and the beautiful. Doing this will open the doors of your own mind to accept the good, disregard the bad and be open to all of the thousands of different views you'll come across. Essentially teaching abroad will either force you to grow as a human or crush you under the weight of your own preconceived notions of what this world is.
|Confucian Academy in South Korea|
#3 To Make an Impact
“Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.”
Whether you're teaching children or adults you will influence peoples lives, hopefully for the better. Teaching a language isn't solely about the grammar points or vocabulary, it's about giving people a voice. It's giving children a gift, a tool if you will, that they can use to make friends, to learn about the places outside of their bubble and perhaps allow them the opportunity to succeed on a global scale.
|Shuri Castle in Okinawa representing Taiwan, Japan and 'Merika|
For adolescents and adults you're giving them a shot to pass tests to get into high school/college or pass a work exam. You're also giving them the opportunity to increase their circle of friends allowing the world to become one step closer to understanding itself. Unfortunately you may not be remembered by these people 5-10 years down the road; but there will be things you taught them that they will keep forever. (Do you remember who taught you the word "platypus"?) Teaching is a job of giving and even if that gift isn't fully realized by others you can stand tall knowing something you gave will last a lifetime for someone else.
|DakGalbi with Korean friends/students|
#2 To Meet the Other Half of the World
|The Gimhae massive. Folks from the UK, South Africa and the USA.|
Want to have an incredibly diverse group of friends who hail from all over this blue globe we call earth? Teaching abroad will give you your shot! Whether you're looking for love, friendship, a few buddies to play poker or shoot hoops with they can be found. Currently my Facebook feed is filled with posts from people on every continent (except Antarctica ... penguins still can't use computers yet... sigh) many of these folks teach abroad. Many of them still keep in contact and we often live vicariously through each others adventures. Before teaching I may not have ever known these amazing people existed! Now, it's hard not to jump up and do the hokey pokey when I chat with them or see the amazing adventures they have been on.
|Bowling in Japan|
|Brits and Yanks enjoying baseball in South Korea|
You'll also make a connection with the native people of where you are teaching. It can be a great chance to learn about their culture, study a new language or have a good time with. Often enough these acquaintances will become friends and you can share in exploring their country or culture with them. They'll share their life, their thoughts and will love hearing about yours as well. And if you're phenomenally lucky you'll find love! Many people find foreign boyfriends/girlfriends and I've even had a few friends find the love of their life! Take a second and think about this for a moment. Right now, thousands of miles away, in some place you've never dreamed of planting your feet, could be your future best friend, the future co-parent of your children and your in-laws (the last one may or may not be such a sugary concept). Take a chance! What you're looking for could be out there waiting!
|I found my Love abroad|
#1 To Have Fun
|Afro Panda Halloween 2013|
Teaching abroad should be fun! It wont always be easy, but it should generally be fun. Whether you're the adventurous type (scuba, rock climbing, epic bike trips, theme parks or climbing tall things) or the more laid back (laying on the beach, camping in the wild, reading a book at a cozy little cafe) you will find a chance to enjoy what you are doing outside of work. Now, work can be fun too! Maybe you'll dress up for Halloween or Christmas; Have a beach party; go on field trips or just enjoy the time with children and adults. With all you've got enjoy the little moments that make you smile, laugh and relish the fact that you are alive, and living a dream.
|Oktober Fest in Busan South Korea|
|Another day at the office. Student beach party 2013|
|Sometimes you just have to let loose. Photo has been edited to protect the not so innocent|
Lastly, it's important you do your homework before choosing a place to work. If you have an overseas interview ask to talk to several of the foreign staff members or the person you'll be replacing to get a better idea of the work culture you'll soon be in. Lastly, make sure it's a good fit for you. If you don't like children don't take a job where you will be teaching children all day! If you hate the cold don't go somewhere you'll freeze to death! Or you'll end up wasting everyone's time in the process. Good luck!
For all you foreign teachers out there what have your experiences been? Is there anything you would add to this list? Please feel free to share in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!
|Don't be scared to comment!|
EDIT: Here are a few starting resources for anyone looking to teach abroad:
Japan: http://www.jetprogramme.org/ , http://www.interacnetwork.com/recruit/japan.html , https://jobs.gaijinpot.com/
Korea: http://www.peoplerecruit.com/e_page/index.php?move_dir=etc&sub_page=menu01 , http://www.teachaway.com/teach-english-korea/epik-english-program-korea-public-school-jobs-korea
Also utilize your google-fu ! There are TONS of jobs out there!