Top 10: EFL Language School Realities

Sometimes EFL teachers have the opportunity to travel to other countries on holiday and start fantasizing about working there. When this happens, it may be useful to remind yourself of the Top 10 EFL Language School Realities which are likely to follow you wherever you may be:

1. It is a business first and foremost – you may well encounter situations with no clear right answer because of this, situations that many teachers don’t normally have to deal with.

2. You will have a mini fridge with a minuscule freezer which will ice up – do not use the back of a knife and spray freon gas around the place like both Anna in Oaxaca (“we recently had a disaster with our ailing, ancient refrigerator when I tried to de-ice it with the hilt of a kitchen knife and accidentally removed the critical chunk which happened to be holding the coolant into the side of the refrigerator and Freon gas sprayed all over the kitchen”) and Rachel in the Sudan. (“Today I was defrosting my freezer with one half of a broken pair of scissors and managed to puncher a hole in a pipe that released gas. I have jammed a plastic bag into the ice to stop the gas leak.”)*

3. As Richard (a Turkey, Tunisia, and Japan veteran) noted in his TEFL Logue Interview, “as few teachers stay anywhere long enough to become fluent in the local language, you’re always having to rely on people you don’t really know or understand to help you with a lot of aspects of day-to-day life.”

4. There is TEFL disorganization: learn to live with it. Do your best but don’t expend all your energy trying to change it.

5. Your speech and habits will change: accept this.

6. As a foreigner who is only expecting to be there for a year or two and who doesn’t speak the language, you are often in a position where it is hard to stick up for your rights. Realize this in advance.

7. Know that your experience will depend much on what you make of it.

8. You will have students in your class who don’t belong there, which will make things difficult for you and the other students and, because students are clients, there may be little you can do about it.

9. You will proably have to give a grammar test, even if your book and course are considered “communicative.”

10. It is all still worth it.

*Honestly, my freezer had become nearly a block of ice as early as Thanksgiving and was still like that when I went to Turkey, but because I read these two stories, I refrained from de-icing with a knife and waited until my return to de-frost it the slow, standard way. No Freon gas at the TEFL Logue.