Neil Root

Neil Root is a London-based writer and journalist who has also worked as an English language teacher for ten years, in London and several countries abroad.

Posts by Neil Root

By Neil Root
Neil Root is a writer and London based English Language teacher with 10 years experience.

The Phone Interview versus Reality

By Christos Vittoratos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

You get the job abroad over the phone usually. Very few language institutions will travel to the UK to interview you (except perhaps Middle Eastern universities who recruit in bulk and the JET programme), and even fewer will pay for you to fly over to attend an interview. One, two or three phone interviews and you’ve got an offer. You’re excited, perhaps it’s a country or city you’ve always wanted to live in, or the employment package seems good. Well done, but keep your expectations realistic.

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By Neil Root
Neil Root is a writer and London based English Language teacher with 10 years experience.

Humour is International: Breaking Down Cultural Barriers

By anuarsalleh [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As in life, the greatest tool when teaching abroad you have to overcome difficult situations is humour, whether in the classroom or in your free time in that country. There will be times – every teacher working in another country has experienced them – when you feel a little alienated. Laughing and making others laugh can break down barriers and help you integrate quickly. Being able to laugh at yourself is a great advantage.

Taking yourself too seriously as a person in another country, when you don’t have your family, friends and usual social network at hand, only makes your integration into the new culture more difficult. You need to take your teaching and administrative school duties seriously obviously, but you can do it with a smile. Try to remember that you are the visitor and at a social disadvantage – I can remember several instances when humour got me out of situations I didn’t feel comfortable in. In class, I had a hostile student who made cutting comments about western culture, and instead of getting defensive (my first mental reaction), I said, ‘But we gave you Mr Bean!’ The rest of the class laughed, one or two said ‘Mr Bean!’ The difficult student didn’t laugh, but he was then the odd one out, not me. He never troubled me again.

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By Neil Root
Neil Root is a writer and London based English Language teacher with 10 years experience.

Cultural Sensitivity When Teaching Abroad

By Gideon (Flickr: Cafe de Bellas Artes) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

When teaching in another country EFL teachers are the guest of that culture, and no matter where it is there will be different customs, beliefs and cultural expectations. This varies greatly – in most European countries the change won’t be so defined, but in the Middle East and Asia the differences are very striking. Part of your job is to meet that culture halfway and to adapt your sensibilities in line with that of your students. This is a lesson quickly learnt by many teachers working worldwide.

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By Neil Root
Neil Root is a writer and London based English Language teacher with 10 years experience.

Adapting to an alien culture

By Gulustan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

EFL teachers are usually adventurous people, and one of the main reasons people do the job is to travel and broaden their experiences. It can be thrilling and massively rewarding, and develop your character greatly. But it is also important to remember that you are going to a country with an alien culture or language, unless you’re lucky enough to know the country and speak the language.

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