Do you like teaching English? Or not

I was wondering how many people actually enjoy teaching English (to kids or adults).

I was also wondering how many people know they should have thrown in the towel long ago but haven’t because they don’t know what else they can do, either in their own countries or in Taiwan.

I loved being an ESL teacher for 5 years.

Two years ago that changed.

I should have moved back home when I first knew I was burnt out, but I didn’t. Somehow I ended up signing 2 more ESL teaching contracts. The feeling that I was “wasting time” became overwhelming. I couldn’t help looking at the clock throughout all my classes, and the feeling of dread before work every morning was overwhelming.

Does anyone else feel this way? I don’t mean once in a while, but every day?

Are you planning to leave?

I’m going back to my home country at the end of this semester (I have the plane ticket).

It sure beats working in a bank.

In fact, that’s interesting, because I’ve spoken with several people who have had what I would consider desirable jobs, but were more than glad to get away from them.

The thing is, when you come to Taiwan, you know there are lots of jobs available, and the cost of living is lower than it is in the USA, UK, Australia, etc. It’s a big, exciting, very achievable adventure.

But going back to a western country is expensive and job markets are competitive. It’s hard to take that first step and give up what has become an easy way of living overseas.

It’s easier to expatriate than it is to repatriate.

I’m interested to know how expatriates feel about teaching ESL overseas in the long run.

Do you really enjoy teaching English, or are you here because you feel you can’t go back to your home country?

To be honest, I was a heroin addict in my “home” country, and that shit is much less available and far more expensive here. One of the reasons I stay here. Teaching English is a piss-easy job. Labour intensive, yes, but you’re generally not working an 8-12 hour day (unless you choose to). One can live in relative luxury working a mere 5 hours per day. And yes, I actually enjoy it.

Hated it, went home. Much happier in new career and with new lifestyle. Still miss Taiwan and my friends a lot, though.

What did you hate so much, BC? Was it the actual teaching or the fuckhead admin. Not being sarky, an honest question.

What did you hate so much, BC? Was it the actual teaching or the fuckhead admin. Not being sarky, an honest question.[/quote]


I actually wrote a really long reply to this, but it went on my blog instead. main points;

I knew I didn’t like teaching within a few months of starting. It was never a ‘career’, it just enabled me to live where I wanted. Towards the end I was really unhappy; the admin were horrible, and I hated being ‘on show’ all day. I also got bored doing the same old adult classes. I don’t really consider it a waste of time though, because it served its purpose.

I love teaching.
Right now, however, I would really like to get an Elementary School position rather than a buxiban job. But, I only have a Master’s in English, not a real teaching degree. I’ve been applying at a few places and all the schools look really great. I feel really sorry for the kids back home when I see how clean and organized the schools look here.

My thoughts exactly. You can have virtually the same standard of living here as back home, but without the 40 hours imprisoned in an office, dealing with office personalities and politics. Then if you live somewhere where it snows, that plus 6 months of crap weather. Such a drab, programmed, predictable life, in my humble opinion.

My first year of teaching here (and in life) I had some pretty bad/painful classes at times, in a school I wasn’t nuts about (the actual physical school). I sucked it up…eventually I got to the point where I could enjoy and entertain myself and manage students even with the mutest, dumbest, rudest classes. So yeah, now I enjoy it, and teaching in general. And on the days I don’t like it, I think about working twice the hours in an office job.

That’s just for now though, I’m relatively young. I can understand some of my co-teachers getting up near 40 who feel like they’re getting too old for this crap. I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it long term, though after I’m done with it I may very well consider teaching in some other capacity, in some other place.

Ha! I’m 45 years old and still enjoy jumping around like a performing monkey every day. To reiterate: Sure beats working in an office.

It depends how old you are and what your alternatives are. I earn more now than in Taiwan, for a 35 hour week of easy work. When teaching (in the UK and Taiwan), I wasn’t doing kindy; I was doing a lot of admin for very little pay and lots of pressure. My working life is better paid, not on a one year contract/ARC, interesting and fun and I am treated with respect and am valued.

No, it’s great: I have far more cash and opportunities to pursue my interests, back home. I also have a much wider circle of friends from a variety backgrounds, not mostly expats (I love you guys, but you aren’t ever going to surprise me).

When you are new, it’s an adventure. After a while, it’s just the day-to-day grind like anywhere. We want different things at different times in our lives, and thankfully, we don’t all want the same things. Right now, I want money, my family, and intellectual stimulation. When I was 24, I wanted travel, a McJob and to get away from Britain. We all change and (hopefully) grow. What’s wrong for me is right for you, and what was right then is wrong now.

Ha! I’m 45 years old and still enjoy jumping around like a performing monkey every day. To reiterate: Sure beats working in an office.[/quote]

That’s great, I envy you.

It’s not so much the teaching that I think will wear me down, it’s the neverending administrative stupidity and cowtowing to the parents (which often stands in the way of the kids’ progress) that would get to me. I think I could really dedicate myself to teaching for a living and love it if I knew I wasn’t fighting an uphill battle all the time. As it stands now, I like doing it, and put an effort in in the classroom, but I don’t have a passion for it and when I’m off the clock I barely think about it. If I were to make it a long term thing, I would want to be passionate about it.

That’s the key. You can tolerate that for a long time, as long as the rest of your life is OK, but for your entire working life? Something gives in the end, and I just burned out.

I worked hard and tried my best, but at the end of the day, I was bored and stressed. Bored and stressed is a killer combination.

Good luck all, and can I just say that I am not dismissing teaching? If you love it, that’s great.

Yep, I know what you mean.

Seriosuly, though, that’s exactly how I felt. I was in Taiwan for six years. The first three were a grand adventure, and teaching was quite enjoyable. During the last three I enjoyed mostly everything about my life in Taiwan except for the teaching.

I never quite got to that point because 9-21 came along and more or less made my decision to leave Taiwan for me.

Do I enjoy teaching? I’m not sure. There are days when I really do, and days when I really don’t. I enjoy students who are interested, inquisitive and respectful, though who wouldn’t? I enjoy teaching anything geography related and I enjoy any kind of general literature type class. I like extra-curricular activities that aren’t all about reading and writing. This summer camp, I’m running a class on how to make some wind chimes. I’ve never actually made wind chimes, but fuck it, I have a plan and I figure we’ll get some interesting results from the kids, even if they the chimes sound bloody awful. I don’t even really care if they learn a lot of English or not. I figure they’ll encounter enough English teachers in their lives, but how often will they ever get a teacher who lets them handle a power drill and saw? It’s a summer camp for fuck’s sake, let them do something cool for once in their over-protected lives. I’m guessing so long as no one loses a finger (or even if they do!) they’ll remember this class more than they will just another English lesson.

That’s what I’d really like to do. I’d like to run real camps for kids where they did the crazy sort of shit we did when I was a kid on camp, under the guise of it being “to learn English”. Or I’d like to run some kind of hands-on social studies or science classes where they got to actually do all sorts of wacky shit, right up to some grand adventure of travelling to some other country and doing something off the wall like getting a bunch of Taiwanese kids to set up wells and teach English and other things to poor kids in Africa. I don’t know, something these kids will actually really cherish as a life-changing event.

Of course, it’s unlikely that any of that will ever happen. I know I couldn’t work in a buxiban again unless it was my own (and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to work in a kindy again), but I grow increasingly bored with my current junior high school classes, despite being the go-to guy at my work. I don’t think I’m the best teacher there, but I’m perhaps the one with the best combination of competence and willingness. I seem to be able to straddle a sensible middle ground between being some weirdo boffin and being a clown who can’t tell you what a preposition is. Yet I feel like it’s not the right thing for me.

I don’t really fit in (here or in Australia – and what the fuck does one do with a degree in philosophy?), and I also have this strong independent streak and a strong entrepreneurial streak. At the end of this year, marriage visa in hand, I’m going to go off and try to do my own thing. Expect to meet kids who know the names of every country that borders the Sudan, but are also missing several digits.

The answer to that question…is probably another question.


I mostly love it but depends on who I’m teaching. I can get rough sometimes. It’s often the most fun I have here in Taiwan.

I enjoy teaching… Phonics.

I loved it in the beginning. Then, I liked it. Now, I’m indifferent. It’s what I do, but it’s no longer who I am. Trouble is, I (usually) love Taiwan, and I want to stay here, especially in winter. I don’t have the money to persue a degree in the field that truly interests me, and even if I did, it would mean moving to a western country to work. So, I’m stuck. And at the moment, the tedium of teaching beats the stress of relocating, re-educating and restarting a life in poverty. I’m not enterpreneurial in the least, so going into business is out. For the time being, I’ll enjoy the shorter working days and try to find some outside interests. (Isn’t it ironic that now that I have all this free time, the books and periodicals in most libraries aren’t in English?)

Back “home”, I would have given anything to live in a nice house with someone else to do the cleaning and to have the luxury of boredom…