It’s official! I am employed with Zador Language School!
I will be working around 30 hours a week with 3 different classes of adults, plus a one-on-one conversation class once a week. I’ll be making a decent wage, less than what I might be able to charge with private classes but I have more hours through the school. Very exciting news! I’m still open to private classes if they work with my schedule. I am meeting 2 hour/week with a man for conversation practice right now and still have some morning and early evening hours I could fill if there are interested students. Besides having a job, I really am looking forward to teaching again for several reasons. I’ll be working with adults who are motivated and interested, have SMALL classes that consist of students at the SAME level, and the school provides TONS of materials that I can use for lessons. These are all going to be huge differences from my teaching experience in Chile.
Also, I’m re-inspired by this article I read about ESL teaching – Jaded with the System: Insider Perspectives from an ESL Teacher in Asia. Although not in Asia, and certainly not with years of experience in teaching, I noticed the writer’s points when I was teaching in Chile, and used some of them to my advantage to get my job here in Spain too.
ESL teaching is not about the students necessarily LEARNING english, often it’s about the curriculum. Present information; use repitition, excercises, or games; and prepare the students for their exams where they regurgitate vocabulary and phrases. If you have a native english speaker doing this, it’s better for the students in terms of pronunciation, but it still doesn’t guarantee that they’ll learn a better grasp of the language. It looks better for the school to have a native speaker, and it’s a way for travelers to sustain a life abroad. Schools are so desperate for native speakers, especially North Americans, that you don’t even need certification, experience, or working papers in a lot of cases.
Obviously, this does work to my advantage and I am using the opportunity to teach english so that I can live here in Spain. And I can’t deny that I lost motivation to teach when I was in Chile. I became more interested in planning my backpacking trip, weekends with friends, practicing spanish, and just enjoying my time there than I was in teaching. Teaching was just my way of getting to the location. Dealing with all of the difficulties in teaching young students in a different educational system, with little support in my school, also had an impact on what I’d like to say was temporary burn out. After the program was done, I have since regretted not doing more with my classes and thought of tons of activities and lesson plans that I wish I would have done. And I guess that’s like any job or career – you learn from your past experiences.
It is way too easy for people to teach english abroad, but I’m thankful for this because that’s how I am here! And while there are enough problems with the system, I think the truth is that expectations need to be raised. English teaching shouldn’t be the easy way to live abroad. It should be the EASIER way because you don’t have to learn the local language necessarily, but as to the actual work – schools, in-country coteachers, and students need to expect more.
Schools shouldn’t keep teachers on that aren’t doing their work well-enough and reward those teachers who do a good job.
Coteachers should support their new coworkers because guess what – we want it! And sure they can be annoyed that we get paid more and get the job more easily just for being a native speaker, but that’s just the way it is. We speak english as a mother language. But they can help these new teachers TEACH better, AND use them to improve their own english skills so that they are better teachers themselves!
And students – this is mainly referring to those outside of private school and classes. The fact that we are authentic english speakers is both an advantage and disadvantage. At first, it’s an advantage because we are interesting and foreign. Later, the honeymoon is over and they realize that you aren’t like their other teachers and they can use that to THEIR advantage and misbehave and generally might not take you seriously. That’s where support from the other teachers, school, and program are important and usually not present enough.
And that’s my 2 cents on ESL teaching… for now. This all might change once I actually start teaching again.