“Ah, yes, of course. Travel to a country and have an authentic cultural experience, while forcing another nation’s language down its throat.”
– English Teacher X, Guide To Teaching English Abroad
Like every other college kid in America, I always imaged that teaching English in a foreign country would be the best job ever. You only have to work 30 hours a week, and you have a whole bunch of free time to go exploring. In all honesty, I’ve considered switching to an Education Major just so that I could have this type of job. Fortunately, I sat down and read English Teacher X’s Guide To Teaching English Abroad, before I marched off to the admissions office.
As it turns out, teaching English overseas isn’t all Thai food and surfing; it’s actually a pretty brutal job. In one of the first sections of the book, X dispels the romanticized image of the English teacher:
“Step away from that old office grind, the old nine-to-five prison. The new car, the new washer-dryer combo, the new computer every three years. The gilded cage of life in the West.
Yes indeed! Leave all that behind! Step into a world where you’re living in a cruddy run-down flat shared with another person! Where you rarely have a steady supply of hot water! Where you can’t afford nice clothes, a car, OR a computer! Where you wash your clothes in the bathtub.
Hey, but at least you’re not working nine to five!”
While the first few sections of Guide To Teaching English Abroad are a bit discouraging, they were still highly entertaining. At one point X makes a hilarious case for why being a pirate is more rewarding than teaching English, and his argument actually had me roaring in laughter.
After doing his best to warn off potential English teacher’s, X uses the rest of the book to convey some incredibly useful information on teaching English abroad. This material runs the gambit from explaining the various types of teaching certificates and their benefits, to a guide entitled “Activities that suck and what to do about them.”
Though it would be easy for a book like this to slip into the realm of mundane instructional manual, Guide To Teaching English Abroad has a lot of humor injected into it. For example, when explaining how to properly introduce yourself to a class, X provides the following advice:
“Try this: Get some dice. Write on the board1) What2) Where3) Who4) Why5) When6) HowStudents roll the dice, then ask you a question with the proper question word. For example, student rolls a 2 – ‘Where’ – and asks the teacher ‘Where is your favorite strip club?'”
Obviously these types of jokes aren’t going to appeal to everybody, but I found them funny enough to keep me entertained.
If you’re interested in teaching, public speaking, or travel; I suggest you pick up Guide To Teaching English Abroad. It’s a deep, honest, educational, and interesting read. Even if you aren’t planning on traveling overseas to teach, this book has some great information on interacting and communicating with others.