I realize that we here in the United States consider ourselves at the top rung of the educational ladder, if only for the fact that so many foreign language students are breaking their necks to come here to both study and live English.
But, on second glance, we should not deceive ourselves. On this board, we read one teacher complaint after another pertaining to the impossible conditions of Asian ESL schools, while we fail to remember – or, perhaps, admit – that right here in the good old US of A, ESL instructors are pretty much in the same leaky boat! In fact, was it not this very realization that originally induced so many of us to leave our country to seek better professional pastures elsewhere? On these shores, after having met the oft-times rigid academic and certification standards of most US ESL institutions, for the mere sake of gaining employment experience, we’ve often found ourselves accepting as little as $12 per hour for part-time and $15 per hour for full-time employment. That, I would guess, is not that far above the national poverty level for … say … a family of two. But, provided one is willing to accept the all-too-often shoddy living standards of an underdeveloped foreign land, not to mention the gross disregard of apathetic management sources (with a salary to match), there’s ALWAYS employment to be had … that is, until which time one finally decides enough is enough!
In the interim, we fans of the eslteachersboard.com are literally besieged by critiques which become sadder and more desperate by the day. We KNOW all too well what you are suffering, folks. It’s not exactly been a picnic here on this side of the tracks, you know. What I have trouble figuring is WHERE one might locate any regard for an ESL instructor as a “professional, ” let alone his/her financial needs as a human being. And if we residents of this more “sanctified” side of the Pacific are forced to utter such concerns, HOW in hell can we dare sit in condemnation of the lesser-developed ESL situations in Asia? After all, is it not WE whom they are attempting to emulate? WHY, in fact, should we cringe at the discovery of dishonesty and misrepresentation over there when right here it’s so often identical? Once you've realized it’s pretty much the same on either side of the Great Ocean, it's a small wonder WHY teachers flit between continents in search of their educational Mecca and, in many cases, eventually wind up frustrated enough to seek other careers.
I, for one, love the theory of English as a foreign language – especially the preparation of students for entry into American universities for pursuit of advanced degrees. However, it’s the reality of it all that serves to disillusion me no end. There can be no denial that ESL is a business. However, when such an ambition becomes the sole purpose of a school’s existence, and academic and even human values seem scarcer to come by, it’s high time to rise up and reform the bloody system … or leave it! I pray that I’ll not eventually be forced to opt for the latter choice. Amen.
Love to all,
The Arrogant One
About The Author
Ellis E. Seamone is an Veteran ESL teacher with 13+ years of experience. Ellis publishes articles at the http://www.eslteachersboard.com/ (free access to ESL resumes, jobs and materials). See more articles by Ellis by visiting: http://www.eslteachersboard.com/