Let’s face it; teaching ESL is a demanding job, but also one that can be quite rewarding. But does the good outweigh the bad? If you’re thinking that teaching ESL will help you or give you answers to any of these things, perhaps you should think of another line of work. Let’s take a look!
1 – You Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life
2 – You Don’t Want to Pay Your Student Loans
Let me tell you about my experiences with this. I deferred my student loans for 2 years while teaching English in China. During that time I paid about $100 a month, barely enough to cover the interest, and most of the time not even enough to do that. Now I’m playing catch-up and if you’re American I’d advise you not to make this mistake.
3 – You Want to be a Teacher
Teaching ESL also isn’t really teaching English. A lot of the times you’re playing games and because many of the student’s are at a mixed-ability level, you’ll often spend a lot of time on behavioral and catch-up issues.
If you want to be a real teacher go back to school and get the papers. Don’t waste a year in a foreign country! Think of 29 years from now when you’re a teacher and you can’t wait to retire. Would that useless year spent overseas be worth something to you then?
4 – You Like Kids
I’ve seen this firsthand. New ESL teachers come in and their all jolly, then a couple months later their dragging themselves into work. Kinds in small doses are great, but when you’ve got to go 8 to 10 hours a day with them? Please!
5 – You Want to Make Money
So it’s no surprise that many want to make money. With those student loans rearin’ their ugly head this is even more important. But don’t expect to make a lot when you teach ESL. My first year I made 5,000 RMB/month, or about $800 US. The next years I made 6,000 RMB. Woo-hoo!
When I started working at training centers my salary jumped to 13,000 RMB. That seemed like a lot at the time, but most of it got eaten up by rent and other bills. It wasn’t until after I stopped teaching ESL that I started to make twice that in a month and sometimes more. If you don’t care about money, teaching ESL is a great job for you!
6 – You Want to Travel
Here’s what I learned being in China. In the public schools you’ll get a longer holiday for Spring Festival and this does give you a chance to travel around a bit. If you work at a training center you’ll probably just have one week, and that’ll be when the rest of the country is travelling to.
I knew a few ESL teachers that travelled around a lot from different countries, staying in a place for a few months and then moving on. So it is possible. (Alright, this is a bad one for the list!)
7 – You Want to Learn About a Different Culture
One of the things you’ll pick up on as well is his how other cultures view your culture. In China Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift were bigger than any American politicians. Chances are your students will want to know if you’ve met them personally yet.
8 – You Want to Build Your Resume
You’ll never hear that unless you’re applying at McDonald’s. Then you’ll probably have some former-ESL manager hiring you.
Believe me, no one’s going to really care that you taught ESL. It’s a loser job and it won’t get you anywhere.
I know what you’re saying: ‘But I do public speaking, control large groups, come up with new ideas, and problem-solve!’
So what? So does everyone else out there in the job market and they haven’t wasted the past year or more of their lives working for peanuts while in no way crafting for themselves any kind of skills that the rest of the world would find useful.
Chances are you’ll only be polishing that resume for another ESL job: That’s all you’re doing by staying in that position, and chances are if you don’t get out after one year you’ll be stuck there for some time.
9 – You Want to Get a (Your New Country Here) Wife
These people were miserable. Their wives were often the boss and they drank like Prohibition was just around the corner. Chances are you’re not an old, fat, balding white man with bad teeth so you can probably skip this one.
10 – You Can’t Speak English
It’s sad, and in China there were a lot of people from poor African countries doing this. The government would often kick them out. A lot of Chinese teachers I’ve worked with over the years have had English skills that are worse than my students. And I’ve seen a whole lot of teachers from all over the place teach incorrect things.
If you can’t speak English you should probably find a job doing something else.
I know this article will anger a lot of ESL teachers, and good! You should be angry, at yourself for wasting your life! Find a better job, you can, you know? You don’t have to be stuck in this worthless position that no one cares about!
And if you think I’m wrong, well, check back in a week for 10 Reasons You Should be an ESL Teacher.