A Turkish TEFL Adventure, Interview With Richard
English language teacher Richard, whose well-thought out comment you might recall from the ESL/EFL TEFL Logue post, was kind enough to share some of his experiences in an email interview with the TEFL Logue. Note that I did ask him specifically about dealing with difficult employers and problems like late pay; there are some rather “hard knocks” in this interview, but it hasn’t permanently colored his view on EFL – after teaching in Turkey, Tunisia and Japan, he returned to the US to complete a Master’s Degree and become involved in teaching ESL in New York.
He arranged his first job in Turkey rather informally just over ten years ago, sans certificate or work visa, and worked from 2 to 50 hours a week, depending on whether someone had just quit and had yet to be replaced. His school-provided shared flat was in a bad neighborhood – so bad, in fact, that he says, “None of my Turkish friends would dare come over for fear of the gypsies, fundamentalists and mafia that were my neighbors”. There were some “heating issues” in the winter which resulted in the need, for a time, to boil water in order to melt the ice in the toilet so it could be flushed. Looking back, he wonders why he stayed in that flat for so long; he also had the bad experience of being robbed at knifepoint and having his keys stolen, necessitating a sofa barricade for the front door for a time. Nope, that’s right, you’re still at the TEFL Logue, not the Adventure Travel Logue!
Another complication was…
that pay delays were frequent, and, in two different jobs in consecutive years, ranged from three days to a week. Given the Turkish economy at that time, this could result in some not insignificant differences at the exchange office.
Joking aside, Richard admits he was “financially desperate enough to stay” and while I would acknowledge that it looks quite drastic written up as a TEFL Logue interview, hindsight is of course twenty-twenty. As an experience is happening, you don’t know how it will end or if the next situation you put yourself in will be any better.
Many teachers, myself included, have been fortunate enough not to have had such a string of unfortunate experiences as Richard, but some issues do seem to be nearly “universal” to EFL. Join us for Part 2, where Richard points out a few of these universal TEFL job issues as he sees them and shares some advice as well.