T Nation

Teaching English Abroad


#1

Anyone do/done this?

Thoughts, experiences, hints, tricks, tips, warnings, advices?


#2

(bad joke removed)


#3

I teach English in Taiwan and enjoy it. I’ve been here 13 years.

I’ll say that it can be great but don’t get too excited like you’re going to be exploring a strange new world. There are Starbucks and Krispy Kremes and free wifi everywhere.


#4

My sister-in-law has taught in Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Turkey, and Ghana.

She has had her passport taken from her and not given back (Ecuador), her pay withheld (Ghana, at a “Christian” school), been kicked out of her apartment in the middle of the night by men in masks (Turkey), and had her apartment robbed by her landlords on multiple occasions. Her housing was almost always provided by the school and after her apartment was robbed for the second time in Ecuador, she saw one of the other teachers wearing one of her bracelets.

I’m sure there are reputable companies out there that will set you up with a good school, but my SIL never seemed to find them.


#5

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
My sister-in-law has taught in Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Turkey, and Ghana.

She has had her passport taken from her and not given back (Ecuador), her pay withheld (Ghana, at a “Christian” school), been kicked out of her apartment in the middle of the night by men in masks (Turkey), and had her apartment robbed by her landlords on multiple occasions. Her housing was almost always provided by the school and after her apartment was robbed for the second time in Ecuador, she saw one of the other teachers wearing one of her bracelets.

I’m sure there are reputable companies out there that will set you up with a good school, but my SIL never seemed to find them.

[/quote]

Don’t work in third-world shit holes. Check.


#6

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
My sister-in-law has taught in Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Turkey, and Ghana.

She has had her passport taken from her and not given back (Ecuador), her pay withheld (Ghana, at a “Christian” school), been kicked out of her apartment in the middle of the night by men in masks (Turkey), and had her apartment robbed by her landlords on multiple occasions. Her housing was almost always provided by the school and after her apartment was robbed for the second time in Ecuador, she saw one of the other teachers wearing one of her bracelets.

I’m sure there are reputable companies out there that will set you up with a good school, but my SIL never seemed to find them.

[/quote]

May I ask why she kept re-upping?


#7

[quote]Nards wrote:
I teach English in Taiwan and enjoy it. I’ve been here 13 years.

I’ll say that it can be great but don’t get too excited like you’re going to be exploring a strange new world. There are Starbucks and Krispy Kremes and free wifi everywhere.[/quote]

Caffeine, sugar and porn have gone global?

Saves some space in my suitcase.


#8

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
My sister-in-law has taught in Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Turkey, and Ghana.

She has had her passport taken from her and not given back (Ecuador), her pay withheld (Ghana, at a “Christian” school), been kicked out of her apartment in the middle of the night by men in masks (Turkey), and had her apartment robbed by her landlords on multiple occasions. Her housing was almost always provided by the school and after her apartment was robbed for the second time in Ecuador, she saw one of the other teachers wearing one of her bracelets.

I’m sure there are reputable companies out there that will set you up with a good school, but my SIL never seemed to find them.[/quote]

Assuming she didn’t have any of that coming to her, I feel like you’re suggesting that I would basically be volunteering to wake up in a bathtub full of ice at some point.


#9

[quote]Nards wrote:
I teach English in Taiwan and enjoy it. I’ve been here 13 years.[/quote]

Did you speak any of the language before moving there?


#10

My GFs sister taught in Korea and made a large amount of money and had good living conditions. For the most part a positive experience.


#11

Have a good friend who teaches in japan and loves it, says very expensive to live there but socially at least is treated like a rock star.

Did it in Italy which he also enjoyed and vietnam which sucked balls.


#12

[quote]anonym wrote:

[quote]Nards wrote:
I teach English in Taiwan and enjoy it. I’ve been here 13 years.[/quote]

Did you speak any of the language before moving there?[/quote]

No and it’s not necessary to. Of course learning it is better.

My Mandarin is a haphazard melange. I can say things like “My dogs’ tooth enamel is very thin” but can’t rememeber some simpler things.


#13

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:

May I ask why she kept re-upping?[/quote]

Different companies each time. I do think it has a lot to do with the third world nation status of the countries she went to. The pay is lousy, even in the local currency, and in one of the cases they took her passport and she was hundreds of miles away from any large city with no transportation making $48 a week.


#14

I’ve had several family members who taught ESL(English as a Second Language) overseas. Good experiences overall. The “traditional” Han Chinese have reverential respect for teachers; never misbehave etc. However, the “city” or urban/Westernised Chinese in the classes were terrible; disrespectful, noisy, arrogant, insulting etc. There’s a huge distinction between the two.

The pay was very good; one of my cousins earned big money teaching English in Dubai. That was a mixed bag too. Dubai is (apparently - I’ve never been there) a very strange place. Most the population are expatriates from foreign countries. There’s also a huge imbalance between men and women in terms of numbers: three men for every woman. It’s an artificial society. Half my cousins’ students were Indians. Average students in general although there are a lot of useless and arrogant foreign students from India. We get a lot in Australia and I’ve known a lot over the years.

Overall, I’d recommend teaching ESL overseas. My relatives all got the work through business and personal connections - it might be a quite different experience if you’re just applying for a publicly advertised job. Research the employers offering the work. There are a lot of dodgy companies in the industry so be aware of who you’re working for. Keeping that in mind, there are a lot of opportunities to earn good money for teaching foreigners the lingua franca.


#15

I’ve known a lot of folks in various capacities: one lived in Shanghai for 8 years teaching, another teaching in Shanghai for a year and then Fulbright for a year (spoke Mandarin), Taiwan, a guy and his girlfriend in Guanzhou (rural China), Thailand, and several in Japan and Korea. I visited several friends doing this in China and my co-worker’s brother started his own business in Prague (a long time ago).

I also know a shitload of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and other folks working in different capacities (Fulbright, etc.) in education and development throughout Africa (Liberia, Rwanda, Malawi, Lesotho), the south pacific, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, etc.

My general observations (different personalities and cultures, so grain of salt:
-As Nards said, it ain’t some big adventure. A world of difference between teaching English in a major asian city and the Peace Corps.
-People in Japan and Korea were generally happy with living conditions and pay compared to China
-Folks in Taiwan are happier than those in China
-Of those in China, the ones in more rural settings were more content
-Contrary to what Pangloss said, those in developing countries were the happiest, though I do know several that were robbed: including a priest that had been robbed 10+ times in the Philippines over 10 years and 3 people who’s house was robbed in Liberia as they slept (the government reimbursed them). I suspect, however, that this has more to do with personality types, as well as the level of responsibility and variety of work (helping out or managing several different initiatives vs. teaching day in day out
-If you get a girlfriend in China, she will be Korean or Japanese
-The nicest living conditions were those living in dorms in China. They have several new universities w/ brand new buildings, so the digs were nice… especially in more rural settings.
-Married couples loved it. Of the unmarried couples, the guys normally wanted to stick around, while the women wanted to go home. I suspect this is based on two things: 1) Women get treated like shit in a lot of non-western countries, 2) The guys wanted to try and bang folks (especially true of those on college campuses

All in all… it depends on your goals. If you want to try it out and make a little money, it sounds like Korea and Japan are your best bet. If you really want to make some money (with risk), I’d say Africa is where you want to look. If you’re looking for adventure and rich experience, you’re probably better off in a more developing setting. If you just want to teach, it’s not worth it; here in the states, there are several opportunities to teach in rural communities such as Alaska or indian reservations, that will pay a lot better (American pay + education if you pursue that), or Teach for America if you prefer urban settings.


#16

Why don’t you just teach it state-side? This once great country is about a generation away from being a third world abortion landfill anyway - habla?


#17

[quote]biggestfrank wrote:
Why don’t you just teach it state-side? This once great country is about a generation away from being a third world abortion landfill anyway - habla?[/quote]

Think about it: who is easier to fight, our adversaries or our adversaries’ children?

This way, I can infiltrate their puerile, malleable minds under the guise of adventurous altruism, give them all the wrong advices, and ensure future rockets don’t land where they’re supposed to because I don’t know shit about trigonometry.

Or, I fail, and at least I’ll be outta this cesspool once the vacuumed babies start seeping through the sewage grates.


#18

Cheers for the input, fellas.