Perfectionists: stay away from English teaching
Some rules of the road
I’ve dealt with co-teachers for most of my experience because I was teaching in Asia. I’ve dealt with co-teachers who offloaded work to me. They put just a bunch of work on me without lifting a finger to help. They can end up stressing you out if you take it all too seriously.
I’ve also been publicly corrected by co-teachers and I’ve had a co-teacher stand in front of the room and tell the students that what I was doing was wrong. Now this could be really humiliating to people, but I didn’t find it that humiliating at all because I guess I didn’t really take myself seriously. Funny how that works. You can’t shame a clown.
I have also been told by co-teachers that no one attends my classes these days and I’ve also been pressured to make students attend despite systems in place that would prevent them from coming to my class, such as being graded by other teachers, having statewide exams, you name it, it all was a dis-incentive. I’m innocent I tell ya! They made me do it! I’m a pawn.
So, the rift between the institutional imperative of the school itself versus the foreign teachers is really an odd one in many programs, especially in Asia and South Korea in particular. However, I will not say it’s wrong or that it’s terrible but I will say that you might encounter these kinds of businesses in Asia.
You might encounter them somewhere else as well, but the point is that there are some businesses that are just inherently flawed (at least for your purposes). Sometimes, certain businesses are designed for a certain type of person (e.g. the backpacker, the tourist, the aspiring career teacher, the flunky, the criminal) but not for you. Kind of like your high school crush, she was meant for the quarterback, sorry bud.
Hindsight is 20-20 but there are ways you can research these programs to find out if they are ideal for you. There’s really nothing you can’t find on the internet. Why, I’m usually pretty shocked at what I find about myself as I’m searching for new opportunities to teach English! I’m telling you, it is all on Google! But don’t believe EVERY thing about me on Google. Especially, the bad stuff.
But actually, all businesses are inherently flawed. You’re never going to get a business that’s got it all perfectly correct so you’re going to have to take the good with the bad.
There are some businesses you’ll get into in Asia as a teacher where the best you can hope for is a good one year and then you leave either because the environment is just so toxic or because you are going to get burned out or maybe you’ll just get sick of living in a rural area. Maybe it becomes too monotonous. Maybe there’s no room for growth. There are many reasons. It’s like any other job, sometimes you need a fresh start, so go west young man!
Planning your life
But I will say that it’s also helpful to identify your career plan. Have mini goals and steps that will help you reach certain milestones. In life, a plan is always a good thing to have so you can kind of keep your eye on where you want to go and how you foresee your future. I’m not saying manifestation because I can’t really vouch for that, but it certainly helps to know what you’re getting into and having a clear sense of what your goal is. Kind of like planning a road trip but with more bathroom breaks.
These are all things for you to consider and ponder as you move forward in the world. And for those of you who are just graduating from college, you have my sympathies because I recognize how difficult that could be because you’re probably going from one area in life to a completely new area. Welcome to the real world, sadly it does not get easier, unless you are rich.
Where you go will most likely be the complete reverse of everything that university life has ever told you. So, my sympathies to you and it will be difficult. But heck that’s why they made booze to drown your worries away for a few hours!
I’m not going to lie and sugar coat it. The work force is a challenging one and it’s not called work for nothing, but I will say this, you can learn it, you can get the hang of it, you can get the rhythm of it and in the end you’ll be fine because all the problems that you will ever have are totally solvable with you and you alone. Cheers!
Todd Persaud holds a BFA from New School University and an MA in Applied Sociology from William Paterson University. He has taught in over five countries, and currently resides in Da Nang, Vietnam where he is writing a book about his experiences. He may be reached on his website
The TEFL (re) Education Program
Todd takes you on a trip down to a fiery inferno populated by wild children and angry businessmen where he describes in lurid detail the ins-and-outs of the English (EFL) teaching profession as conceived overseas.
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Good and bad are subjective , and whether a job is "good" or "bad" depends on a person's individual values, interpersonal relationships and other opportunities.
Some people like teaching ESL and others don't.
Debating about whether teaching ESL is a "good" job is just plain silly.
Good and bad are just opinions.
My own "opinion" has been teaching ESL was both enjoyable and a good stepping stone for other opportunities, but it is was not an occupation I wanted to make a career out of. But this "opinion" is based on my own personal experiences, motivations and opportunities, I surely would not expect everyone on the world to share my views. I know many people who found their life's work in teaching ESL and have continued on and are seemingly happy with the path their lives have taken.
Todd did not really share all facts to support his basic conclusion, life is sh*t if you come from a wealthy country, get a university degree and voluntarily decide to to off to foreign countries and get a job which requires little more than having a good grasp of your native language, Nor did he mention why he continues to do so despite his negative viewpoint.
It is fine for Todd to give career advice and philosophical ramblings about the meaning of life, despite the lack of any more expertise than the average Joe, after all it is just the internet and anyone can say anything they want, the modern version of the bar stool philosophers.
But opinion is not fact, my opinion differs, but that does not change the essential nature of the ESL industry nor does my opinion indicate Todd is "wrong" in seeing so much negativity in the industry and the world, I question whether so much negativity without action to make changes is helpful and what is his motivation in trying to spread such a negative worldview, but I acknowledge he does see the world this way and these are his opinions.
By Jack, Here and there (30th October 2018)
@Jack -- He's not in South Korea, he is in Vietnam. He was saying that was his experience in South Korea. I've generally found the key to a good teaching experience is asking the school for reference contacts from former teachers. A good school will say, "Sure, no problem, here is their email."
Bad schools always say they don't have that information... Really? You don't have their email? Or WeChat? Or Facebook? Or LINE? All your ex-teachers just magically disappeared from the internets? Right....
By Hesse Bentura, Phuket (29th October 2018)
Wow, if this is how you see teaching ESL in South Korea, why do you do it?
By Jack, Land of smiles (26th October 2018)