The Rewards of Teaching English
Teaching English is a challenging proposition certain to bring both frustration and reward.
Eastern Europeans prize education. Some of the oldest universities on the European Continent are located here and stand as testament to the grand educational traditions of the region. Students at all levels are known to be both courteous and committed. Dedicated teachers garner respect and gratitude for their efforts, not to mention a decent wage. Because twenty classroom hours per week is considered full-time, well-organized teachers can find ample time to pursue leisurely activities.
A long-time teacher in southern Poland observed:
"You come in here as a teacher and you're automatically upper-middle-class. It beats working at some entry-level job in the United States. Entry level is nothing anymore."
Teaching English effectively requires dedication, discipline, and imagination. Standing in front of a class wagging your native English tongue doesn't qualify as instruction.
"I experienced the hard way. When I first came here, I was one of those unqualified people. You know, I thought - well, I'm a writer so I'll just come here and do it [teach]. For my first class, I brought in a short parable by Franz Kafka. It was in simple English, only one paragraph. Then I realized my students didn't understand anything I was saying. So, I just threw it out, and started over. That was my cold shower."
Some native speakers of English teach in Eastern Europe for adventure, while others do it to accumulate credentials for their careers in education. Many who initially approach teaching as a temporary adventure discover the long-term satisfaction that it can bring. These are the people who go to Eastern Europe on a lark and come back with a new and exciting vocation. No matter what your take on teaching, you are likely to return from Eastern Europe with new skills, friends from all over the world, and a broadened perspective.