Ask a handful of ESL teachers, after having completed a couple of years teaching overseas, what they thought of the experience, and there would no doubt be similarities and differences in opinions.
One thing is for sure, topics like living as foreigner, travel opportunities, money saved (or squandered), contract inconsistencies, and challenges in the classroom, would be at the top of our lists.
As John Wick describes in his 2009 blog 7 Truths You Won’t Hear About Teaching ESL Abroad (still relevant for today’s ESL teacher), a teacher’s motivation for travel becomes the underlying reason WHY ESL teachers are willing to put up with stressful conditions in overseas classrooms.
Such conditions might include oversized class populations, contrasting student English levels, and/or the daily grind of working with unmotivated students.
Who wouldn’t be refreshed after a long day of unruly students, with the prospects of planning your next foray into, let’s say, the jungles of northern Vietnam.
Sure, the allure of travel turned most of us on to ESL teaching, but the idea of “teaching to travel” seems like a ill-conceived strategy.
Certainly there must be other ways to see the world while still enjoying a slightly higher level of job satisfaction?
The next time you find yourself “no sooner returning from one trip before planning your next”, or over-dipping into your savings just to escape from the stress of teaching ESL overseas… it just might be time to re-think teaching.
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