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Teaching English Makes You Dumb
Now, I don't mean that teaching English will literally make you dumb, but it could possibly have an impact on your conversational, grammar, and/or spelling skills (if you are teaching English as a Foreign Language - EFL). I'm only saying this because I have certainly seen a change in my speaking abilities as well as had this conversation with fellow teachers that have noticed a change in theirs.
When thinking about teaching English to a younger group or beginning learners, you will most likely think that the job will be simple. Well, that's because it is. It is not the teaching aspect that is simple, it's the level of English that is. It is so simple in fact that you will begin to use broken English in order to get your point across. Instead of "Please listen to me when I speak," you may say something along the lines of "I speak, you listen." This happens so often that on occasion you may find yourself forgetting certain things that used to come naturally.
This may get worse the longer you are teaching English. You may write something on the blackboard and then second guess the sentence you just wrote. You may write a word (that used to be written without thought) and wonder if you spelled it correctly. Your co-teacher may ask you if a sentence sounds grammatically correct, which most likely it's not, but instead of going with your gut, you decide to go to the computer and check it, just to make sure. This is beginning to happen to me more and more as time goes on.
Surprisingly this began to take its toll on me early on. I think I started noticing this within the first couple months of being here. I would be having conversations with fellow English teachers and forget the word that describes what I wanted to say. I noticed this was happening with them as well. At first, we all thought this was funny. You become so used to speaking broken English to co-workers and students that normal sentence structure and what used to be common vocabulary slowly escapes you. Now, I'm not finding as funny; I'm actually finding it to be quite annoying.
I know a big part of it has to do with not being exposed to English all day long: hearing conversations, reading signs, and speaking to more English speakers. Combine that with changing the way we would normally speak to make it simpler for everyone else around us, and you have yourself a situation that could affect your English skills.
I'm sure this hasn't happened or won't happen to everyone. I'm sure there are certain people that are more susceptible to it (like me) than others. I'm actually pretty curious as to how many other people feel this way sometimes (other than my friends). I honestly think that when I go back home, I will have to take some sort of course to freshen up on my grammar skills before taking another teaching position.