The Rewards of Teaching English
Teaching English is a challenging proposition certain to bring both frustration and reward.
Imagine an entire classroom of students weighing your every word, intent upon gleaning some grammatical tidbit that will bring them closer to fluency! Seriously, by teaching the language employed by much of the international business world, you are assisting in the economic transition of an entire region. Achieving proficiency in English means greater opportunities for the people of the countries of the former Eastern bloc. In fact, in Hungary, for example, English-language competency is a common requirement for many Hungarian government positions.
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.
Teaching strategies and skills are important tools for any competent teacher. In many cases, you will be expected to prepare lessons in advance. You will also be the catalyst for most of the interaction in the classroom. To a large degree, your ability to inspire students will influence their willingness to learn. Ultimately, the gratification you and your students derive from teaching will come from your hard work, creativity, and patience. The teacher in Poland continued:
“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.