1. Opening The Doors to New Opportunities and Relationships
I once met with a good friend when I was uncertain about teaching English and my impact on the world. We were discussing the importance of teaching English and why it mattered and she told me “Clare, you are providing these students a sense of belonging into a world they otherwise would not have.” That comment struck such a deep cord with me. Teaching English is opening doors for people to have not only better career opportunities, but access to new relationships. It is to see the world through the eyes of another language. In addition, people are able to access a whole new aspect of themselves they may never had had otherwise. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all could experience this? Now, that’s impact!
2. A Sense of Connection, Appreciation and Openness to Other Cultures
Most obviously, when we teach English, we are getting to know so many people from around the world. When your lessons are designed with the student’s ideal learning environment in mind, you will learn more about their culture, language, traditions, religious practices and lifestyle. When we are equipped with this knowledge, we can become more empathetic and understanding teachers. It helped me to see how both different and similar we all are as human beings living on one planet together! This “exposure to the world” is one of the most exciting aspects of the job. It will definitely be the aspect that you look forward to each day as you enter the classroom!
3. English Teachers are Multi-Skilled!
When I think back to my English teaching days, I reflect back on how resilient I was. This resilience came from the ability to do so much at once and to become multi-skilled. Teaching English includes the following skills to name a few: teaching a brand new skill to someone you’ve just met, forethought for how you will plan the lesson that can take hours or even days, a significant understanding and knowledge of complex language topics, a deep awareness and sensitivity to learning styles and quick thinking! All in all, you will develop so much confidence when you begin to teach because of the plethora of skills you will develop.
4. Developed Sense of Curiosity and Empathy
When I taught for the first time, I was nervous about my lesson plan and how the students would receive me. Yet, once I began to teach, I began to notice that there was more to it than just ‘teaching’. I began to notice and listen carefully to what my students were experiencing. They were all arriving to a new country for the first time and with that came plenty of emotion and new experiences. Not only were students learning a new language but they were all living with a host family that lived an hour away from campus. In addition, they were all navigating their experiences through the big streets of Toronto as best they could. Even after I finished teaching and started another career, I began to feel complete and utter empathy for their lived experience. Travelling and learning a new language is tough! It takes a lot of courage, vulnerability and determination to open your mouth and speak another language. Once you’ve supported people to do this, you’ll be able to support anyone who has met challenge in their life and wants to overcome it!
5. A Broader Perspective On Life
Teaching English is an excellent practice in developing present-moment awareness. Life will always bring us challenges outside of our teaching job, especially if we are teaching English abroad. Every time I stepped into the classroom, however, all of my worries disappeared. When I ‘turned on the teaching switch’, I was able to be fully present for my students. Teaching can often feel like a performance. We are showing a side of ourselves that is confident, outgoing, trust-worthy and knowledgeable. In reality, there are just going to be days when you won’t feel all of these things. It’s important to find that spark to be present for your students and their learning journey. When we are present for others’ challenges to learn a new language, our problems seem quite insignificant. Beyond this, the fun you have teaching will often trump whatever problems you’re dealing with. So go out , smile and have some fun!