Teaching English Abroad?...nifty.

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So this is what I signed up for. TESOL.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Mmm...sounds nifty.

I've always wanted to teach English in a foreign country, (specifically India,) so getting TESOL certified was the natural progression of things.Thankfully, I'm not a complete freshie. I mean, my previous experience teaching English in China proooobably wont save my butt in Spain, but I'm hoping that some skills will carry over.


It was the summer of 2012 when I taught English to the employees of a 5-star hotel in China. The woman who normally taught English had the perfect fool-proof plan to get them to learn...she told me to pretend that I didn't know Chinese, and to just keep speaking English to the staff as if it's the only thing I spoke. If you've ever had people talk about you and assume you don't understand what they're saying, then you know how funny it can be. And it was working! I managed to look as clueless as possible when they would speak Chinese (stifling my chuckles whenever I had the chance.) And all was going according to plan, until....something happened.




The teacher put one employee on the spot, saying how his efforts needed to be improved...and in defense I accidentally blurted out "No, I think he's doing excellent!"...in Chinese......and then the whole room burst into a bunch of gasps and "I knew it" 's. I sunk into my chair in embarrassment. Oops.

Blew. My. Cover.

 After that, I continued to teach, but would only translate words to Chinese when necessary. Honestly, I found the most challenging part to be the pronunciation of words, not the grammar. And I have to admit, even though they got the idea, the fact that they couldn't grasp the accent bothered me. I ended up trying so hard to teach them how to mimic and recreate the accents but to no avail. It wasn't until later that I realized how caught up I was, for something that wasn't important. My friends always told me that while learning Spanish, I worry too much about my accent. It took a while before I finally came to terms with the fact that I'll always sound non-native. And I'll have to learn how to apply the same idea when teaching.

I hope that if and when I get a chance to teach in Spain, I'll be able to do a better job.

So....the moral of the story, if you're going to go undercover as a secret agent (okay exaggerating a little,) don't blow your cover! And have fun :)
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11 comments:

  1. My French accent improved over time, so your friends are right, accents will come to you eventually, even if it sounds a bit non-native. When I tried learning Mandarin, the professor put so much emphasis on accents and pronunciations, and I was so terrible to the point where Caucasians will have a better accent than me. Eventually I dropped the course. My Dad always suggested that I teach English in China but I can't ever live in China - I spent a month there on vacation and I still wasn't used to anything.

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    1. haha I get that, I dropped out of Mandarin because I just couldn't learn it. And believe me, I cannot live in China either and my dad really wants me to as well :( 3 months in China, and my mandarin improved like...not at all!

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  2. What a fun story. Teaching sounds so rewarding. I definitely worry about my accent too. I'm learning German right now, and I swear I sound like I'm just yelling at my computer :(

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    1. hahaha oh my god you're so funny! I've tried German once but it was so hard! All I learned was cooking- cochen, swimming- shwimmin....something like that...those were the easy ones...but lets not forget that German naturally sounds like yelling hahaha that's the beauty of it!! You could be really angry and no one would know!

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  3. It really does sound like you'll have so much fun. I need a trip to take me back to non-English speaking Europe - but for vacation and not work please!

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    1. Yes!! You should do it! One or two weeks, just for a refresher :)

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  4. every time I read your blog, I get so jealous of your life! Haha. You seem so awesome!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thanks Mo! You're so sweet!! But you're from Hawaii and pretty sure that's an automatic awesome right there! (one day I definitely will hit up Hawaii!)

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  5. omg soo cool! haha I've ALWAYS wanted to travel to India. I've been wanting to for years now but haven't found anyone to go with. teaching in India would be so neat!

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    1. Me neither! I'm also waiting until I'm a little older and more capable of handling the slums. I think at this point I might just cry uncontrollably the whole time there. :S

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