As an “instructor without boarders” (or an international anything), there are many times where we may find that our new working and living arrangement may not meet our expectations. Many times, we are sent to work within a system that we may not agree with, or we may have ideas on how things could be done better. Prolonged experience in this setting without perspective can make you angry and bitter and make you feel like you hate the country you are in. It is important to remember that though a system may work a certain way in your country, that is not necessarily how it should work in another country. Many times you are there to experience the culture and work within their education systems, not to “fix” it. It is important to remember this. Perspective is key. Below is a video by TokyoLens that has an important message that applies to anyone living abroad or in any new situation.
BBC News: Can English remain the ‘world’s favourite’ language?
Discussion: This article points out that many of the world’s English speakers and English learners live in non-English speaking countries. Not only this, but with the rise in technology and translation devices, will there be a need to continue to learn another language in the traditional way, if at all? What are your thoughts?
Lustig, R. (2018, May 22). Can English remain the ‘world’s favourite’ language?. In BBC World News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-44200901
There was months of planning and paperwork, interviews at 2am from across the world, leaving a wonderful job that I loved in Thailand for the opportunity to teach at a college in Colombia. At the very last minute, my job in Colombia has been canceled. By very last minute, I mean I was supposed to leave at the end of January and I was told at the beginning of January that I would not be going. I was also told three days before the college semester started. So, as an adult ESL educator in the US (I am not a K-12 Certified teacher), I will not be able to find any adjunct positions until Fall 2018. Additionally, many of the teach abroad programs had already closed for February start dates.
Why and how did this happen? As an EFL instructor for different countries, your job may never be guaranteed. This is a reality that we have to keep in mind when dealing with other government agencies. In the case of Colombia, non-profits bid to run the education program. In the past five years they have always chosen the same two non-profits to run the program. So it was unlikely that this year would be any different. But somehow, a new organization won the bid. This means that the agency that I was hired through did not feel comfortable putting their instructors in the hands of an organization that 1. they have never worked with before, and 2. does not have a high reputation for running large scale programs such as education programs in Colombia. This is unfortunate and upsetting, however, I do understand and respect why my organization felt this way. This is because the decision not to send us to Colombia could not have been easy, but they kept the safety and well-being of their workers in mind and did offer other alternative options for programs in other countries.
So what can you do? Ultimately, the decisions of other governments and other countries are out of your control. Some education programs are more solid than others. Thailand, for instance, may run on Thai-time and their start and end dates may move, but from my experience as long as you have an open, flexible, patient mind, you will be okay. Unfortunately in this business, your job may never be guaranteed. So just like adapting to living in a new country, you have to be adaptable to job mishaps as well. Luckily English teachers abroad are in demand, you just have to work with varying start dates and the lull between contracts.
When a contract falls through you have every right to be pissed. Feel all the feelings and hate the universe. Scream and feel like you have no idea what the heck you are doing this for. But after that, get up and actually remember why you are doing this. And then remember that this is the nature of the beast and as much as it sucks, you have options. Not everyone gets to go and connect with the world at large. So how cool it is that you get to.
As an EFL Instructor, I fully appreciate when friends and strangers alike share resources to make teaching life easier. Especially on days where you need a quick activity or practice homework. iSL Collective shares these feelings and has created this amazing share site where teachers from all walks of life can share games and resources that they have created. This website not only has worksheets for English, it has worksheets for other languages as well, such as Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Portuguese. Additionally, it covers a wide range of subjects including English Language, Science, Math, etc.
This year, there appeared to be an increase in popularity of presentations focused on corpus linguistics, teaching English to refugees, and peace building. I will touch on corpus linguistics in a later post, but as for the other two, they seemed fitting considering the state of the world and the political climate we find ourselves strapped into. Two of the sessions I found interesting (and tools for making better human beings) had to do with peace-building and connections to others.
The Human Library Project: How many of you have heard of The Human Library? Until this conference, this idea is one that I hadn’t heard of. I think this would be a great tool for peace-building and bridging the gap between communities. This gives the opportunity to ask tough questions that you may otherwise feel uncomfortable asking and allows you to get to know someone different from you. Check out The Human Library in more detail here.
The Global Village Project: Summer Literacy Themed Readings: The Global Village Project runs a summer reading program in cooperation with the public library for refugee girls in Decatur, Georgia. Their theme for this summer was peace-building. They encouraged books that showed strong women, people of different backgrounds, and people of all ages. You can learn more about The Global Village Project here.