Initially, we hadn’t considered teaching as a job for both of us whilst out in South America. Of course, me being a qualified teacher, I was naturally looking for teaching jobs. Rory, on the other hand, is an acoustical engineer and researched into getting engineering jobs out there. We quickly realised this was not going to happen.
I guess we take living in England and being part of the European Union (EU) for granted, as there, you have the right to move around freely and find employment in any other EU country we choose. Outside of our friendly borderless union, the reality is that you cannot simply turn up to any country and expect to be employed, when there are hundreds of other fully qualified engineers who speak the local language fluently and do not come with the added hassle and paperwork of a work visa. Yes, when it’s put like that, it’s quite obvious really.
So we both looked into teaching English. Being native English speakers makes you useful and employable in non-English speaking countries. Particularly in the developing countries of South America , English is needed to encourage international business and boost tourism. I’m not saying it’s easy and straightforward becoming an English teacher, nor that any old speaker of English can do it, but from what we’ve seen so far, it’s your best bet to living in a beautiful country like Ecuador or Argentina.
Not only that, but teaching can be an extremely rewarding job. I’ve taught languages for many years and have found it a hugely satisfying job when you see the progress your students make. It’s a great feeling when your see your student not only learning, but enjoying their learning. If you like being a teacher and put in the effort to create good lessons and truly believe that what you’re teaching is worth learning, then your student will pick up on that. Teach with enthusiasm and passion and that will rub off on your learner. Teaching is a fantastic profession to get into. It can be rewarding, varied and fun, for both you and your student.
Teaching is not for everyone though. It takes dedication, patience and a lot of hardwork. You have to accept that you will endure many obstacles and will fall flat on your face at times. But, you learn from it and move on.
You may also be up against students who don’t actually want to learn, or who think they know it all and won’t accept your help. Usually teenagers are the most trying and you have to deal with poor behaviour and the attitude. On top of this, you are usually contending with parents too, who are often paying for good results, even if their child is not the brightest. If you manage to get through to those moody teens (or parents) though, it’ll feel like your biggest achievement! There is also the question of workload. You have to put in the hours, which are often unpaid or considered part of your salary. You may be contracted to work a 20 hour week, but that will inevitably involve an extra 20-30 hours at least of planning and marking. Teaching is hard work and it can be never ending. There is always something more you could be doing. In short, to be a teacher, you have to care. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.