Teach Conversational English
in Eastern Europe, China and Turkey
SOME THOUGHTS ON TEACHING IN EASTERN EUROPE AND IN ASIA
Teaching in another country is quite different than traveling there as a tourist. You will be working, not just sightseeing.
You will be responsible for planning and adapting to get students of another culture to speak English. Our motto is, "The students speak 75% of the time, and the teacher 25%." You will be responsible for organizing activities in order to get them to speak English. You will be responsible for presenting American culture in a fair and objective way.
You will be responsible for the students in your class and any activities. Take normal safety precautions; do not let them do anything dangerous. Do not leave them.
You are not to proselytize any religion or philosophy. You are to be good role models and not forget that you are not their buddy, but their teacher. You are not to dominate with your opinions in the classroom.
This program is not suitable for people who are perfectionists, who like firm answers to every question, who find uncertainly unsettling. You may find the water unsafe to drink and the food different. You will become frustrated by not knowing how to read the signs or understand what the people are saying to you. You will have to rely on your students to help you.
You will find yourself becoming irritated by dumb things: your pillow is not your favorite one, your roommate snores, or has to have everything exactly in place, or gets up at the crack of dawn and insists on going to bed exactly at the same time every day. You will find that washing your laundry by hand is a pain, you have to share the bathrooms with strangers, and you miss your favorite cereal, etc.
Your Group Leader does not have all the answers and may change daily plans, daily. In short, you may become frustrated, annoyed, and stressed out. On the other hand, this program is for risk takers; people who welcome change as an opportunity for flexibility and creativity. These people will find it a wonderful release to try new things, meet new people, and learn their capabilities under pressure. The people who enjoy the guaranteed uncertainties of working in a new environment, are the optimists who attempt to temper their positive attitude with a fair measure of reality. They give others the benefit of the doubt, show courtesy to all, do not embarrass others, and are generous of spirit and time. They are not the complaining type. They look for solutions and do not create more problems by panicking.
Learn as much about the country you will be working in before you travel there. If you are open to new experiences, you will return home exhausted but exhilarated. You will be exhilarated by knowing you felt needed and did your best to help others. You will realize how much you learned and were helped. You will feel loved, appreciated and respected, if you forget the times you were annoyed, angry, confused, and tired. But you will probably never have been bored.
Do not be hard on yourself when you realize (finally) that you have been too cranky, and do not be hard on others when they are. You must be a team player and that means you respect and cooperate with your Group Leader. You are to help and be tactful with each other. Don't be critical of everything that is not like home or up to some imaginary "American Standard". Don't drag the group down with your complaints; rather try to inspire others with your sense of humor and optimism. A team that bonds together exhibits these qualities and self discipline.
BE TOLERANT OF DIFFERENCES! How can we expect the students to learn tolerance through this program if we can not demonstrate it ourselves? "Go with the flow", "Be a good sport", "Relax", "Chill out", "Don't fight it, join it", Enjoy the moment, etc, etc. You know yourself better than anyone. Do not fool yourself that you can handle everything, that you are an easy going sort of person when you really are the hyper type that loves regimentation, order, and clear and concise guidelines. If you are a perfectionist, this program will not be for you. Don't come; you will only make yourself and others miserable.
Remember this: We guarantee things will go wrong and we promise uncertainty. Accept this and you will do fine. You will have wonderful stories to tell when you return home. And the students you teach will fill your hearts with joy. (At least most of them!) You are away from home for only a month. But you will return a different person and be better for it.
Bridges for Education reserves the right to dismiss any teacher at any time from the program for insubordination, misconduct, or violating the laws of any country. The host country has the right to revoke permission to stay in that country. The right is reserved to decline or accept or retain any person as a member of the BFE programs at any time.
Mrs. J. Beth Ciesielski