In the last few years, I’ve been constantly been around students and been living and breathing a school environment. Teaching at a school has given me the opportunity to not only travel but also a chance to be living in a different environment. This changes my perception of how I see things and expands my horizons. Just as I am exposing my students to a new culture, they are also teaching me so much about theirs.
Here are the skills I have learned from working with students as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher:
When I’m in the classroom, whether I know the local language or not, I am required to speak English only. As a native English speaker, my role is to give my students a cultural and language immersion and to allow them to practice their English skills. Over the years, I have worked with students who have different levels of English. When I work with students who have lower level of proficiency in English it means that they need more support and easier vocabulary to understand. This is always a challenge and something I used to be quite frightened by.
However, I realized that learning is not only through words – it can also be through pictures and examples. When they do not understand, I can communicate my meaning in different forms. I truly believe because I’m pushed to think out of the box to communicate, I become a stronger communicator and would be able to transfer these skills into any workplace successfully.
Teaching English, like any other teaching career, is really trial and error. You need to work on it many times until you know what works best with your students and how to be a more effective teacher. This also applies to life. There are no wrong answers in life to say what is right or wrong – just what works best for you.
Teaching English has allowed me to do two main things in my life: 1) Live abroad and travel and 2) Teach and have a meaningful career. Both of these things allowed me to build my confidence and become the person I am today. I didn’t know very much about travel, work or even teaching when I first started, but I believed in one motto: “I will fake it until I make it.” Today, I would say I have definitely accomplished this, because no matter how bad things were, I did not give up and never ran home. I stuck with it to the end, even when things got really difficult. Through isolation and hardships, I grew significantly and became a strong, confident individual, transforming horrific encounters of bad luck into stories of strength and perseverance.
Living abroad, traveling and teaching seriously taught me to become more patient with life. All of these things do not come easy and are not easy to obtain without time and patience. When you move to a new city, you have to learn a new language and the culture to fit in, and how to interact in this new environment (in and out of work)
From learning a new language to understanding a new culture to communicating with my students, my patience is always put to a test each and everyday. It is an amazing feeling though when someone understands you and that is the best feeling of living abroad. It shows that hard work pays off.
Be patient. Adaptation takes time.
My life is richer in experiences because I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and in return, I became more confident and patient with stronger communication skills.
Have you taught English abroad? Do you agree with these points? I would love to know!