What Are The “Right” Reasons To Teach EFL? Part 2

One of the biggest realizations I’ve come to as a result of living abroad and seeing how other people look at life and work and other things is that this idea that there is one perfect job waiting out there for you that is your life’s purpose and that will bring you fulfillment is a very Western and, dare I say, American concept. As is the concept that you should feel bad or at fault if you are not doing that work. In many places, people look at jobs and careers and work as means to an end, not as the main course of life that is the answer to everything.

People in all careers have multi-fold motives for doing those careers. When I first started teaching, I felt a large sense of guilt that my motives included the desire to work and live abroad. Today I just feel irritation at people who hold the attitude that, not only are some teachers with pure motives, but that they themselves can decide which motives are worthy and which are not. If they want to pick nits like this, I would say that teaching English as a way to experience another country is a more admirable motive than is teaching in order to spread the English language. It is striking to me – and a sign of something I’m sure, though I can’t say what – that there is such a number of people who really seem to use this to elevate themselves.

If a teacher can say they are teaching because that’s their purpose in life – great. But there are a wide variety of perfectly acceptable motives for teaching abroad in addition to this one.