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Teaching Abroad: Learning about the world while teaching English abroad

Acronyms
EFL - English as a Foreign Language
ESL - English as a Second Language
ESOL - English to Speakers of Other Languages
TESL - Teaching ESL
TEFL - Teaching EFL
TESOL - Teaching ESOL

My students looked at me in what I preferred to think was the rapture of learning. It turned out to be the blankness of confusion. I was giving a lecture on American Culture at Chongqing University in western China, a break from my usual classes of Conversation and Writing. I attempted to explain the American Road Trip, Route 66, Kerouac, the vastness of the land stretching from the Golden Gate to Brooklyn's pizza shops. A student tentatively raised his hand,"Excuse me, but what is "pizza"? Once again, I was reminded that teaching abroad means more than classrooms and grading, more than a language barrier, more than a cultural gap, it's learning about a whole new world.

As Latin was once the accepted international language of the Western world, English has now become the world-wide standard for business, science, and diplomacy. People from Uruguay to Ulaan-Bataar are eager to learn English, and that means native English speakers have the opportunity to see the world through teaching. Travel the world and earn money, just because you grew up speaking English? Sound too good to be true? Well, it is a real job, with the requisite workload and stresses, but it's one of the most fulfilling jobs you'll ever have.

 

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