teacher

Whenever i mention my college degree, people inevitably want to know what i majored in.  Even if i specify English with an emphasis in Writing they always assume that it is my life’s goal to teach.  This really annoyed me for a long time.  Did i say that i majored in Teacher Education?  No, i did not.  It is an entirely different department from any of the majors i worked towards, namely Theater, Mass Communications, and English.  I didn’t go for a degree in Teacher Education because i had no interest whatsoever in being a teacher in the conventional sense.  I believe in homeschooling.

What many people do not realize is that most homeschoolers do not learn exclusively at home from their parents.  Some are taught by tutors.  Many have classes with other homeschoolers once a week and homework the other days of the week, particularly in subjects such as math, science, music, dance, art, and foreign languages.  My mother is on the board for such a conservatory and i have taught at it for the past three years.  She is also very involved in a homeschooling co-op where she has taught geography and writing.  I myself have been teaching Knitting, Photography, Intro to Needlearts (crafts for K-3), Wearable Art, and Comic Book Art.  So i guess the irony is that yes, i did become a teacher.  Most of my students never learned my name and exclusively called me Teacher (though to be fair i never learned all of theirs, i have a hard time remembering names, even those i do know).  I wouldn’t exactly call teaching a career, though, since most of the teachers at the conservatory aren’t in this for a profit and my wages are relatively low and i usually provide all the supplies (cameras being the obvious exception).

I have wanted to learn a foreign language for a long time but have yet to master one to my satisfaction.  I struggled with Spanish in high school and did slightly better in college.  What amazed me is that while i was in Europe, Turkey, and Egypt, nearly everyone spoke English to me while i knew nothing about their languages (save Spanish).  I actually did understand a lot more Spanish than i was expecting but did not feel like i could reciprocate in speaking back in an intelligible way.  Over the past two years i have made it more of a point to learn new languages.  Well, i should say that two years ago i started working on it and a year ago i let it fall mostly by the wayside.  I want to consider myself an intermediate in German and Spanish but am really only about halfway to where i want to be.  I am an extreme beginner in Dutch, Irish, Scottish, and Italian.  I probably know more French than any of those last four languages and i’ve never even taken French!

But i am still very interested in becoming fluent in those languages eventually, i just became frustrated with the lack of guidance when it came to grammar and the actual meaning of words.  It seemed like the course providers might have been very familiar with German grammar but they were pretty hopeless with English grammar, which is to be expected as they probably were native English speakers who have never taken a grammar course in their life and are not in love with the English language as i am.  Most Americans don’t even know a second language, but most Americans don’t really know their own language, either.  I think that learning Spanish and German has helped me understand English more deeply.  I wish that we had more access to other languages, though the internet and Skype and forums and chat rooms have made it vastly easier than it once was.  Immersion is probably ideal but it is definitely not enough in itself.  I have to actively work to acquire a language, i have to speak it from day one, and i really need to somehow integrate actual conversations into my studies. I have yet to do the latter.

What i have considered for a couple of years now and am almost certain i will be doing in the near future is Teaching English as a Foreign Language.  At first i was drawn to Latin America.  I had already discovered in the past that it is difficult for an American to get a visa to work in the Schengen area, they much prefer Brits as teachers in Europe.  What i quickly discovered in my research this time around is that English is becoming more important in Central and South America but teachers only make enough to support themselves really.  There isn’t any way to save or pay off debts, which is what i most need right now.  I want to pay off my debts and quickly.  The most money for teachers is in Southeast Asia, with some countries paying for airfare and housing, and all paying enough to save at least a few hundred a month, maybe as much as $1000 a month if one is frugal.  So i am pretty sure that i want to go to Japan (where a BA is required to teach, unlike in China or Thailand or Vietnam) with a backup plan of South Korea.  Eventually, after i get some experience, i might be able to teach in the Middle East (which is even more lucrative), and after i pay off my debts and have some money in savings i can choose destinations based off my wanderlust rather than the practicality of getting out from under these student loans.

So lately i have been getting organized, researching travel, TEFL, Japan, and South Korea, and trying to figure out the best way to get over there.  Technically a TEFL/TESOL or CELTA certificate isn’t even necessary for me to start teaching, but i think it would be best if i got certified just to improve my own teaching skills and to learn how to actually teach English!  CELTA is a certificate with more prestige behind it but it’s also more expensive.  I currently plan to take a TEFL course this fall, hopefully find a job immediately afterward, and maybe take a weekend CELTA course later on.  Which is completely redundant but i cannot figure out how to cost effectively take a CELTA course.  They aren’t offered as four week courses in Japan, the housing isn’t included in them in Denver, Honolulu, Mexico, Costa Rica, or Barcelona.  The one TEFL course i’m looking at is offering a month of housing for ~$500 whereas in Hawaii or Denver it would be more like ~$100 a day or $500-1000 a week.  I just cannot justify that expense.  I’m trying to take the practical route.  I think i can do the entire TEFL course in Japan for about the cost of just the CELTA tuition nearly anywhere else.  It might be more expensive to fly to Japan than other locations, however.

I want to be self-sufficient, to get to Japan and out of debt on my own, but all of this is a bit overwhelming.  I’m already looking to strangers for help while researching different programs.  I could put most of this on a credit card, i have the credit limit available, but a part of me is hoping that people would make donations to a fund to help me get to Japan and set up.  Is crowdfunding appropriate for this kind of thing?  I’m actually thinking maybe family would make donations (more than strangers) since they helped send my sister to Zimbabwe on a missions trip a few years ago.  What really is hard about this for me is that i’ve dreamed of going on a missions trip since i was a preteen, i’ve seen so many homeschoolers get to do it and i have never gotten to go anywhere.  Before i moved back to Colorado to go to college i was considering going to China on a church mission trip, but that obviously didn’t happen.  This would be a dream come true in a way that i wasn’t quite expecting.  Is it too much to achieve?

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