Trust In TEFL

hecctfall1.jpgTrust, faith and taking risks all play a good-sized role in teaching (and not to mention traveling) abroad. Many situations literally just comes down to trust and negotiation. There is often no way of knowing for sure whether what is going on will turn out as you expect or not. But taking the risk and hoping for the best is essential.

I did $1200 worth of proofreading work in Sarajevo for a freelance translator, well over two months’ of a teacher’s salary, and because of the arrangement with the publication of the book, there wasn’t a contract. I was also due to leave the country, more or less permanently, before the payment was due.

If I had insisted on a contract, it wouldn’t have been possible. The response would have been “Okay, I understand, but we can’t write a contract so don’t do the work.” It all worked out fine – I got paid right on schedule, in fact, while I was traveling in India and this work was a large part of what made that trip feasible. I don’t even really know what happened with the publication – I sure hope my pay didn’t come totally out of the translator’s own pocket permanently.

I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t look out for yourself and consider a situation from all angles before making a time or financial commitment. You definitely should. But even if you count on the worst, it is not usually in someone’s interest to screw you over royally (for lack of a better term). One conclusion I’ve reached, amid some relatively universal frustrations of EFL, is that people tend to be good, not bad – perhaps not always as “good” as we’d like them to be, but also not as “bad” as they potentially could be.