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March 18, 2005

Do You Love What You Do?

Last time, I talked about whether or not it was wise to speak the mother tongue in a classroom setting, and that got me thinking about something else: if I go to all of the trouble to make my students work hard to learn English, rather than just doing it the easy way and telling them how to do the exercises in Spanish, I must actually love what I’m doing!

I guess I’ve never really thought about whether I love teaching ESL or just simply do it, because I’ve been working in this profession for so long. But this week, I finally came to realize that I truly do enjoy my job. (Why else would I work for so little pay, right?)

But then I started to wonder just how much that would change if I didn’t get to experience the many things that I do because I live in another country.

What about you? Are you in this career because of the satisfaction that comes from teaching and watching your students learn English, or do you do it for the cultural experiences and adventures that oftentimes go with the territory? While I do enjoy the profession, I wonder how much I would enjoy it if I was teaching in the United States. In other words, if I didn’t get the chance to experience another culture, country and the wacky experiences that go with it, would I still be an ESL teacher? Honestly, I don’t think that I would.

Does that make me any less of a teacher? I don’t think so. Instead, I think that it takes a special blend of character traits to be a good teacher, and in order to be a good teacher in another country, it takes those, plus an entirely different set of them. (patience, a willingness to try new things, and a laid-back attitude, for starters.)

Now, I’m not saying that teaching English as a second language isn’t an experience in itself—it only takes one visit to an ESL classroom to discover that! But there is something about stopping at the local market on your way home from class and seeing, tasting and smelling those foreign “things”, or spending your free time in a whole new cultural setting that adds another dimension to this work.

Am I the only one who feels like this?

I would love to hear from some ESL teachers working in the states to get your point of view. Are you satisfied where you are, or do you dream of relocating somewhere else? Does the idea of living your life outside of your current experiences thrill you or make you want to run in the other direction?

And what about those teachers living in a foreign country? If you were forced to leave your current country and teach in the U.S., would you continue teaching ESL, or would you look for another career? (Perhaps one loaded with adventure and new experiences.)

I have to say that, for me, the added dimension of another culture and different ways of doing things is what makes my job worthwhile. And if I were to lose that aspect of my life, I probably wouldn’t be content in this profession.

But that’s just me.

Write to me and tell me your thoughts on this subject. (Use the comment button below).

Next time, I’d like to talk about the idea of making friends with your students—is it a good idea or not? Drop me a line, and let’s talk about it!

Until next time,

Michelle

Posted by msimmons at March 18, 2005 02:35 AM

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