Teach English in Dianwan Zhen - Datong Shi

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When becoming a teacher for English as a Second Language or a teacher for English for Business the actual goal is to teach abroad in a non-English speaking country. Exotic places like Thailand or Tibet come to mind, places where the cost of living is relatively low but the weather is relatively good and the people are friendly and the environment is safe. As a young teacher one dreams about earning money and living the life at the same time. But living and teaching abroad is not always as glorious as it sounds. First of all the person who wants to teach abroad must be ready to leave friends and family – home – behind. When moving to a foreign country more things than just the language are unknown. But let us have a look at the language problem first. As a teacher you are accustomed to being the person that teaches other people, the person the students look to for guidance. In the new country the teacher is as much student as he/she is a teacher. This means that the most basic communication will be with gestures and the teacher has to be prepared to mime a lot and become a “clown” in general to solve the first problems like food and accommodation. Customs in the new country will be completely different from anything that a teacher has grown up with. For example it might not be a good idea to greet new people with an outstretched hand or a kiss on the cheek like in Europe/USA. There are a lot of cultures in which people do not like to be touched with hands (only by close family) and would be terribly offended by a gesture that the general Westerner thinks to be friendly. And this first contact is only the beginning of possible mistakes. Religious beliefs, political intentions, dress code, how men and women interact etc. are all possible “pot holes” in which it is easy to fall when first arriving in a new country. How to eat, what to drink (and not to drink) in public or in private homes, appropriate attire for business and private occasions are further possibilities for embarrassment. Therefore it is extremely important to start the new career with extensive research. There is a plethora of literature on the market that describes country and customs. It is advisable to try and find a newspaper published in the country of your choice and written in English online. I have found this to be extremely helpful. A newspaper is a medium of information that can provide helpful insight on numerous topics. A newspaper always has a political section and one is able to read in advance about the things going on in the country of choice. Newspapers often have a classifieds section so it is possible to see what things are for sale and what the prices are. Obituaries (or their absence) are a good way to learn about the way this country deals with the touchy subject of death. And the advertisements show what is interesting to the people who live in the country of choice. Once the teacher has started his/her career in the new country he/she might even use this newspaper later on in the classroom as authentic teaching material. A newspaper in English provides a good source for vocabulary and it deals with the daily life of the people in the new country so they will be familiar with the contents. The teacher must also be extremely aware of his/her role in society. Therefore it is necessary to find out beforehand what the “standing” of a teacher is in the country of choice. Depending on that standing the teacher has to accept that their position in society might be completely different (positively and negatively) compared to their home country. The young teacher also needs to be aware of the possible problem of corruption. Coming from a western education we are not used to corruption in the classroom. Depending on the choice of country in which to teach corruption might become a very real threat. Especially people in South America find it quite normal to influence the performance of a teacher with so-called “gifts”. This can be problematic since the teacher - as a foreigner - is in a vulnerable position. Without the right clues on how to handle a situation like this it can become rather dangerous to either accept or reject such “gifts”. A person going abroad to teach therefore needs open mindedness and a fair amount of empathy to conquer all problems and thrive in this new country. The reward will be a rich experience of culture, food, friends and the knowledge that he/she is able to survive on his/her own.