Friday, April 5, 2013

"E" is for ESL

In about another 15 months, I will have my Master's Degree in TESOL.

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Sometimes it's called ESL, which stands for English as a Second Language. Basically, my job will be to teach English to people who do not speak English. Whether it is because they have moved to an English speaking country and need to learn to better communicate in their new surroundings or they are still in their home country, but need to learn for another reason, I will have the tools to help them.

English has spread throughout most of the world and continues to grow rapidly. English has become the major language of international commerce and a number of other fields. English language teacher is the second most high demand job in the entire world second only to computer technology jobs. I am not concerned with being able to find work once I graduate, but am really curious as to where I will end up.

Qualified English teachers are needed in literally every country in the world and I have no reservations about leaving the country to accept a job. In fact, I think I prefer it. I love culture and would love to settle down in some remote corner of the world. It would be better than just passing through as a tourist.

In my studies, I am learning that it is about much more than just teaching language. Since up to 80% of our message is nonverbal, I have to ensure that my students can properly communicate with more than just their words. Plus, every culture has hundreds of customs that have nothing to do with language that do not translate from one country to another.

How to eat spaghetti in Japan
In some countries, shaking the head means 'yes' while in other countries it looks almost like a shrug.In Kazakhstan, sitting on the edge of a desk or table is incredibly rude. The 'thumbs up' gesture so common here in the States is offensive in most of the rest of the world, as is the sign for A-OK. In Thailand, you should never touch a person's head or pass something over it. In many countries, people touch more than us Americans are used to. This includes holding hands. Here, that is usually reserved for couples, but in some Latin American countries men hold hands and it means nothing romantic.

I have to teach my students about eye contact, how to shake hands and even give them lessons on history, politics, cinema and literature to help them better understand the American mind. I am quickly learning that speaking a language is only the tip of the iceberg for being able to successfully navigate another culture. I'm so ready to get out there and get started.



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Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

60 comments:

  1. That's cool. My friend went to Japan and taught English there for a few years. And she loved it. It is something I would consider doing if I didn't have so many obligations here in the states! English in and of itself is hard enough but throw in all the nuances, idioms, gestures, and whatnot and it makes it even more so! I commend you, sir!!

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    1. Thank you. Within a few months of me getting my degree, my youngest child will be graduating high school. The timing couldn't be better.

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  2. Language and culture go hand in hand, or foot in hand if I'm found somewhere that's acceptable as a greeting gesture.

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    1. There are parts of the world where they greet each other by shaking the other person's thigh. I haven't seen it in practice so I am not quite sure how it works, but it would take some getting used to for me.

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  3. Good for you for venturing into this rewarding profession. I taught ESL before I had children. I wish you all the best, and congratulations on your upcoming graduation.

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    1. Thank you. When I was in college, I always found myself befriending the foreign students. I love learning about and visiting other places. I lived in Puerto Rico and it was amazing learning and interacting with people of another culture. I am very excited for my career.

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  4. You sure that's not how to WEAR spaghetti in Japan lol? Sounds like you are in for an exciting new career teaching ESL. Sadly, some of our Canadian born young people could use a few lessons in English as a First Language.

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    1. I expect it to be very exciting. Hopefully, my students will be more proficient in English than many of the young people I come across here in the States.

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  5. It sounds like you've chosen a career path that will offer some really cool opportunities.

    That guy in the washer makes me wonder if that's how my wash machine got broke once. I can completely see one of my progeny trying that.

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    1. My brothers and I broke our parents dryer doing something similar, although without the spaghetti.

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  6. My girlfriend is an ESL teacher, good luck with that!! Good Post

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  7. Sounds like an interesting thing to do, you never know what will happen! Thanks for stopping by! GirlZombieAuthors

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    1. The thing I am most curious about is where I will be living in five years. It could be anywhere in the world.

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  8. Hi! I was a teacher at the British Council for many years here in Lisbon. Sounds like you're in for a lot of fun - it is fun because students learn when they're happy and at ease. You do get some gaffes though (maybe we should make a note of them and turn them into a book) - I remember one student saying he'd been to London and the taps in the bathroom didn't work and he went to the reception and said, "There's no water in my lavatory and I want to wash my face!" (Lavatorio in Portuguese means basin)

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    1. I was traveling with a local in Puerto Rico. We were going to see his aunt because she kept passing away. He told me again and again how concerned the family was because they didn't know what the problem was. The day before she had passed away four times.

      I finally figured out that he meant passed out.

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  9. Sounds like an interesting career path. I believe that special people become teachers.

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    1. Thank you. I have a great admiration for teachers and am proud to get to join their ranks.

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  10. Sounds like you found a career path that will keep you working. Excellent.

    So that's how you eat spaghetti in Japan. I watched that way too long. Way too long.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺

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    1. Yes. I would love to finally land in something that I could just continue to do until retirement.

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  11. I kept wondering what degree you.were working on. That's awesome and sounds like just my kind of thing. I loved living outside of the US, and would gladly do it again! A small corner of the world sounds very appealing right now.

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    1. I loved my time outside the country also and am eager to do it again. I don't even care where I go as long as it is not cold there.

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  12. Sounds like the sky is the limit for your options in life! Not only that, think of all the interesting people you will meet! Visiting from the A-Z!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

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    1. I certainly hope so. Ideally, I want to work in a university setting, but we will see where this goes.

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  13. Congratulations on your new career path. Our neighbour taught in Japan when his kids were small and it was a life changing experience for his whole family. Enjoy!

    Jodi

    Writing and Other Life Lessons

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    1. Thank you. I am very excited for it.

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  14. Quite an interesting post. You've made me think about things I take for granted.

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    1. Most people can't even explain their own culture. It is so ingrained that they just follow the rules without even being able to explain them. So, trying to explain them to someone else gets rather difficult.

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  15. When I took Japanese, the instructor went beyond the language. We had to learn etiquette including how to stand and bow. She also told us to never make eye contact, especially if the person we're speaking to is older.
    Fel Wetzig at The Peasants Revolt

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    1. That's awesome. A few years ago, I had a class period where we studied Indian dining etiquette. The following week, we were taken to an Indian families house for dinner and graded on how well we followed customs. Very educational.

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  16. My mother was born in Switzerland, so English was her, well, 3rd language, actually. She told me several times that she had to write the names for baby animals next to the name of the adult animal, as in pig -> piglet. So when it came to bull, she wrote...bullet.

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    1. That's funny. It took me a while in Spanish to understand that they used different body part names for animals than for humans. In English a leg is a leg on both humans and dogs, but Spanish would use a different word.

      I found every billboard advertising chicken breasts to be humorous, because the distinction was built into the word and I wasn't catching it. Because it is already known that it is for chicken (not humans), the wording is different. All the restaurants advertising their great boob prices greatly entertained me. Once I learned the word differences, it wasn't as much fun.

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  17. What a great point about how much more goes into speaking another language than just the actual language. I never really thought about it before, but it is so true.

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    1. I think the most difficult part is helping them understand the American mind set. Not just behavioral stuff, but the way another culture thinks. It gets complicated.

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  18. Wow, I can't imagine how difficult if must be to teach English to folks who speak another language. Not an easy task at all.

    (New follower via the A to Z.)

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    1. This is why it is so important that people be educated for the task. There are many MANY places that will hire any high school graduate with english as their native language. They don't usually make the best teachers.

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  19. Ooh don't forget the showing of the sole of one's feet in India, is considered rude and offensive.

    My sister spent a year in the Czech Republic and said that it was the best year of her life. And I met my best friend when she came over to England to. she loved it so much, that she opened up her own International school.

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    1. The foot thing is the rule in much of the Middle East as well. I think one I would really have trouble with is the restriction on using the left hand. I would have to tie it down.

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  20. I am glad that I am not in Kazakhstan. I tend to come to the edge of my char when listening to people speak in the public. All the time in the facility meetings at work, paying attention is very important and that's how I pay attention.
    Shaking head side ways left to right means negative and shaking head up and down like a nod means positive in the part of India I grew up in.

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    1. It's amazing how things that we just assume are universal have no bearing as soon as we leave our little area.

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  21. My stepson used to teach ESL and really enjoyed it. Now he teaches 6th grade.

    It's good to know about other cultures and customs - wouldn't want to be rude :)

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    1. Awesome. I started out pursuing a degree to be a high school math teacher, but grew disgusted with the public school system. I still wanted to teach, but changed my focus a bit.

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  22. Wow, that's awesome! Great choice for teaching :)

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    1. Thank you. I expect it to be an exciting field.

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  23. Great post! I am currently teaching ESL overseas. Even though I am a grammar nerd, teaching about culture is my favorite part of the job. I once had a student who was shocked to find out that children actually go trick-or-treating on Halloween, he thought it was only something they did on tv. It never occurred to me how bizarre it must seem to people in other countries that we do things like dress up and knock on random doors asking for candy once a year. It is such a rewarding job, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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    1. Thank you. I am very excited to get started. I have such a love for culture, I often just assume everyone else does as well. I can't wait to get started.

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  24. Very interesting! I never imagined there was so much involved in teaching English. I always find it interesting to learn about other cultures.

    Stopping by on the A to Z Challenge--enjoy the month!

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    1. It's a lot more than language. That's one reason we can always pick out the foreigners so easily.

      Thanks for coming by.

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  25. Good luck. I can imagine how excited you must be to be graduated and headed to another country/culture. I've been to many other countries besides the U.S. and I enjoyed every bit of my travels.

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    1. I am very excited. I really want to see the world. Outside of the U.S. I have only seen Puerto Rico so far.

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  26. I hear you can do quite well for yourself teaching English abroad, too. Good luck.

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    1. I am hoping to land in a university setting, so I hope so.

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  27. Hi Brett, Good to consider how what we do and say can be taken differently than what we intend. All the best. God bless, Maria from Delight Directed Living

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    1. It is a fascinating subject. I love learning about it.

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  28. I didn't know all of that stuff about other countries. I know customs are different, but its amazing just how different they actually are. You should post more about it so you can give all of us a free lesson.

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    1. I'm sure I could make several posts out of it. I may do that when the challenge is over.

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  29. I'm an ESL teacher too (although I don't have a master's in it)and I've taught EFL! It's so much fun! Good luck with your teaching adventures :)

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    1. Awesome. Thank you. I can't wait to get started.

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  30. My favorite lessons, while teaching ESL in Tiawan, were the ones that forced my student to think out a whole scenario in English. eg: What would you take with you on a trip to a desolated place and why, What 3-5 people from anywhere in time would you invite over for the evening, etc

    I would be very upset if you took my sister to the other side of the world.

    Hestia

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    1. We're just leaving it up in the air for now. I don't know what is going to happen.

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Leave a comment. C'MON!!! You're already here. Leave a comment. Don't leave me hanging and wondering if any has ever seen these words. I'll rub your feet.