Who are you exactly?
Just a couple of pals who have TEFLed their way up to the giddy heights of bare survival for more years than they care to remember, and who have clocked up a bit of experience, a good number of wrinkles and the odd nervous tic along the way – sometimes feeling that they’re making progress in the game of life, other times feeling like they’re going round and round in circles.
So, a married couple?
Actually, no. Just good friends. No, really. She does a bit more of the writing, he does a bit more of the techy stuff. She’s a procrastinator, he’s more on the ball. She makes a mean plate of pasta, he can open a wine bottle without a cork screw. She’s a Scorpio, he’s a Cancer (though if you try to tell him his star sign traits, he’s likely to poke you in the eye). She knits, he doesn’t (and he thinks it’s bloody silly to make warm, wooly stuff when sitting in mind-melting heat anyway). He jogs, she refuses point blank to.
And where might you be?
Somewhere terribly hot and sandy at the moment, but neither of us have been home permanently for a long, long time.
We do more leisurely sauntering at this stage, to be honest. Middle-aged rheumatism is starting to set in, I’m afraid.
You are EFL teachers?
Well, of course. Is there any other job worth doing?
Do I detect a note of sarcasm?
How could you think such a thing? Actually, we do both love teaching. And travelling. We just don’t subscribe to the whole TESOL certification peddlers’ sales pitch which, we feel, tends to underplay many of the challenges and difficulties involved.
The logistics of it are sometimes skimmed over, for starters. Packing your case and hopping on a plane sounds easy, but the reality is you’ll often have to pay for your flight, sort out your visa, get stamps, seals and approvals for all sorts of documents, then once there, you might well have to house-hunt on your own, in a foreign country, with only a vague idea (or no idea at all) of how it all works, organize utilities, transport… It can be complicated, and rather stressful. Then there’s culture shock, building a new social circle from scratch, figuring out how to stay healthy – and that’s all before you step foot in your new classroom. Employers are not always totally scrupulous or fair, local labour laws might be very different to what you’re used to, you may find you have very few of the rights you took for granted back home. Last, but by no means least, financially, it might not be quite as fulfilling as you were led to expect, or as you had hoped.
You’re making it all sound rather dire.
That’s not the intention at all. It’s more about aiming for a greater degree of transparency and honesty in discussions about TEFLing than you often find on the Internet. Whenever there’s money to be made, people can start to be less than forthright about any risks or obstacles which might well have to be faced. Acknowledging those risks and being aware of those obstacles doesn’t guarantee positive outcomes, but forewarned is forearmed and all that, and perhaps having more realistic expectations can actually be a vital part of making the most out of what can potentially be a rather amazing life experience.
Amazing life experience?
It is actually. Or at least, it can be. You get a very privileged, up-close look into other cultures, that your average tourist can only dream about. I know that by the end of my time on this mortal coil, many of my most precious memories will be of funny, poignant, illuminating, magical TEFLing moments.
What’s with the retro vibe going on in here?
Ah, the reasons for that are two-fold. First of all, we both like ‘old stuff’ – from vintage jazz to art deco to Bauhaus to old silver-plate photographs to classic English literature to lithographs to…well, you get the picture. The other thing which influenced our site’s style was the fact that, although a lot of people just help themselves willy-nilly to images from the net, strictly speaking, there’s such a thing as copyright laws, which you’re supposed to observe. Being a couple of goody-two-shoes, somewhat paranoid, and less than tickled at the prospect of being sued for having used someone else’s copyrighted images, we opted for making full use of the wonderful images available on Wikimedia Commons, and in the process, discovered that some of the nicest images in there, in our modest opinion, were the old ones – which also happen to be the ones most likely to be totally copyright free. If there’s no attribution on an image featured here, then it’s because a) it’s one of our own, or b) there’s no legal need to include the attribution according to Wikimedia Commons. If however, you should spot something which does require an attribution, or which shouldn’t be here at all, please let us know – we will fall over ourselves to take it down – promise.
I didn’t get your names.
C.G. and E.R. will do for the moment. But, just out of curiosity, who the hell are you, and what on earth are you doing firing questions at us on our web-site??