Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SURVIVING TEFL: An English Teacher X Omnibus Now Available

So finally here's a bundled edition of all the books that I've written about Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Just in time for the holidays.

And as a bonus feature, my famous Fake Message Board. Buy this and save like, two or three bucks.

With a new foreword by the author, which I wrote last night and I'll just go ahead and post here: 

* * * 

Well, it’s been almost twenty years since I started teaching English as a Foreign Language. Almost four years since I first published GUIDE TO TEACHING ABROAD, and nearly ten years since I wrote the initial essays that formed the basis for that book.

Surely things have changed a lot in TEFL, right? Globalism has consumed the globe. Surely the need for English as the language of business and tourism has led to higher standards for TEFL teachers and better working conditions and salaries for them?

Ah, no. Not much. The ups are still up and the lows are still low.

I’m writing this in a hotel room in Cusco, Peru, after a year of doing an extremely high-paying job in the Middle East in which teachers were generally called up upon NOT to teach English, but merely to stand there pretending to teach while the students used their telephones under the table. (Trying too hard to force students to study inevitably got them complaining and led to lost jobs.)

My high salary did not at all match my lifestyle – I lived in a sort of grubby trailer park in an industrial zone, where we were glad to be able to still smell the hydrogen sulfide leaking from the refineries and gas-oil separation plants nearby, because we’d been warned that loss of sense of smell was an initial symptom of the neurological damage caused by it.

I came to Peru to visit a couple of friends who are working in an English language school in a large city. Their lives are jolly, with plenty of drinking, hanging out, and eating good cheap Peruvian food. They both work on tourist visas, and make less than $700 per month. They sleep on mattresses on the floor, and have no paid holidays or health insurance. Each trip to the border to renew their tourist visas contains the risk they will be denied entry.

Meanwhile, all across the globe, language schools and TEFL Teacher Training programs are flooded with applications from a generation of disenfranchised liberal arts majors who can’t find any other work in the cutthroat competitive job market of their home countries.

Yet of course, neither I nor my friends have any intention of getting different jobs anytime soon.


      You tell me. 

Welcome to TEFL 2014! Now on with the show!


Anonymous said...

We all took the right pill. Can you imagine working 50+ weeks a year, 50 hrs per week, on call during vacations/weekends from your boss, while situated in a 2nd tier office park cubicle, all to make a mortgage payment on a house you don't need requiring a car to get you there and 15 different varieties of insurance to support it all? Let's not even get into relationships, obesity, alimony, and other ball & chain issues. 21st century America is a hyper consumeristic culture that seeks to confine, define, and restrain you from cradle to death panel. At least we've made an attempt to resist. Lurkers - join us.

I started with the ESL thing, then got a "real" teaching license and did the international school circuit for two decades. X's certification route is another path of advancement. Always keep moving forward in this world, or you are taking a step back (imagine you are Brad Pitt ahead of the zombies at the WWZ Jerusalem wall and you get the idea). Now middle-aged, I regret nothing. New adventures will follow.

For you youngsters, just 3 rules: 1) make yourself MORE yourself, not less. 2) create clever paper trails (resumes & referrals, filed taxes, loan deferments, entry/exit paperwork). 3) do NOT, repeat, do not EVER, under ANY circumstances, marry her, unless she's richer than you AND already has a visa. Living together works nicely.

My advice, from 30+ years of surfing the jetstreams.

PS Add a 4th rule - appreciate the moment. At some point you will be on a minibus out to the Cambodian/Czech countryside with your friends, or drunk/stoned making out in a sleazy 2nd-tier bar in Shanghai/Lebanon/Caracas with a hot chick or two you just met (or dude - I shouldn't be sexist or discriminate on orientation)... and you probably won't realize it then, but those are your most joyful life moments. En-joy, be in the joy, and appreciate.

englishteacherx said...

I like the paper trail advice. Too many people neglect that one.

Anonymous said...

Love your soundtracks, x. "It's your life, it's your call, stand up or enjoy your fall." That's some wise advice for the kids, definitely.

Ken said...

It's not so much insane. It can be a very rational choice for many. I think what individuals should do is to have some kind of backup plan and real credentials. Things which I've noticed are lacking in many. (I have a separate career I run along side teaching. I also have a UK teaching licence).

So you can do it legally and leave a paper trail as above.

While the going may well be good now. If may not always be this way and if you're one of the fakers (of which there are many) you may well be shit out of luck when things change.

In fact there was an article about a person who went to China for 17 years relying wholly on white face. He managed to get himself deported and found himself unable to get any sort of UK job and was denied welfare as he was no longer considered to be a citizen.