Thugs And EFL Students

tan_1024x7681.jpgThugs preying on foreign students – from Sussex – may come across as a little extreme, but it is actually a very relevant issue if you are teaching foreign students in an English-speaking country, perhaps more so than if you are teaching immigrants. My read is that immigrants as a group, in contrast with language learners on holiday, tend to be pretty adventurous people (to take the risk of immigrating in the first place); because they are probably actually living in the place where they study, they may also be in a better position to develop street smarts more quickly. College-age kids, though, who go for a month or two or three to learn English somewhere are perhaps more likely to be fish out of water. They may not have much life experience under their belts, they may be full of youthful invincibility and somewhat sheltered if they are living in student housing.

While teaching in Chicago, a Japanese student was “jumped” walking through a housing project listening to his ipod.

Obviously, the ipod was stolen. He had been told more than once to take public transport instead of going by foot through the street he was attacked in. In your own country, you have a sense for when something is safe or not, in a foreign country, it takes longer to develop that sense. Listening to an ipod meanwhile doesn’t help much.

As an English teacher living abroad, it has crossed my mind that I might be in a slightly riskier similar position. If someone were to come up to me at night and demand my money, I probably wouldn’t understand and might even say, “Sorry, I don’t speak Slovak well,” or worse, just ignore the person. Oops!

Fortunately, I’ve had no real problems abroad, and I think it’s pretty rare for foreign students and other EFL teachers to encounter thieves and such. But it’s something to keep in mind: be aware that you’re not as tuned in abroad as you are at home.