Lessons Teaching Teaches

(Note: As of summer 2016, I am no longer an English teacher. The lessons below still apply.)

I have worked as an English teacher in Taiwan for two years. While I enjoy teaching, it was never my intention to become a career teacher. Many of the people reading this post will be in a similar situation: you wanted to move abroad, to learn a new language, to meet new people, and the best way to find work in the meantime was to teach English.

Fine. But while teaching may not be your end goal, I caution against viewing it flippantly, as a means to an end. This attitude damages your impact on your students, and on a more self-centered note, it often deprives you of an opportunity for self-development. Teaching a language requires you to sharpen so many skills that are often neglected at a ‘normal’ job back home.

Employers often question why a candidate “took time off” to teach abroad, and many teachers themselves also frame the experience this way. But it isn’t a vacation, and if you pay attention, work hard, and try to understand what you are doing, you’ll find that teaching can be as personally rewarding as it is enjoyable.

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