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How to Teach English as a Second Language
Teaching English as a Second Language
Today, teaching English as a second language in foreign countries is a popular job because in some ways it is more like a vacation than work. You get to travel abroad; you get a place to stay and you are getting paid. It can also be pretty easy to get a job teaching English in a foreign country—you are guaranteed employment in some programs if you simply graduated from a university considered prestigious, and you don’t even need any teaching experience.
But before you enroll yourself in an English teaching program and jump on the next flight, you should understand what the job really entails.
First of all, if you are going to teach English abroad, you have to be committed. Most programs will require you to stay for a minimum of 1 year, so you have to be willing to devote a considerable amount of time to the position. Also, you might be getting paid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting paid a lot. Teaching English as a second language isn’t a job you go for if you’re looking to earn a lot of money, but earning some money is better than earning none, and some programs are said to pay up to $75,000 a year. However, there’s usually a price to pay for a big salary—the program might be located somewhere undesirable, like a secluded area without any nightlife, or the cost of living might be expensive. Of course, you’re likely to be paid much less in places where the cost of living is cheap.
One of the benefits of teaching English as a second language is that it can be an
extremely rewarding cultural experience. It’s a chance to see what life
is like outside of your home country, to see new and exciting places and learn
foreign languages and customs. You might also meet a lot of great
people in and out of your program who all come from different walks of
life. Most people who come back from teaching English abroad describe
having a positive experience, and often find themselves being longing to return to that country afterward.
But English teaching programs also receive their fair share of criticism. Certain programs have been accused of racist employment—for example, some programs in Asian countries will automatically hire teachers who are white on the sole basis of their race, even over other Asians. Others question how educational these programs really are. Rather than teaching English to foreigners, teachers might be learning more about foreign culture.
The truth is that overall, the experience of teaching English as a second language varies from country to country, and what teachers get out of the experience will largely depend on which program they choose. Thus it remains a viable option for individuals who are looking for a cultural experience with some pay on the side.