Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why Did You Choose to Become an English as a Foreign Language Teacher?

Why, How and When
Why, how and when did you choose to be an English language teacher? When this question came up recently during an online interview with Monica Haydee Di Santi, I had to seriously reflect, not on what to answer, but on how much to exclude. My path into English teaching wasn’t exactly as direct as many of my other colleagues. For each of us, the story and path into the field of teaching English as a foreign or second language is a bit different. Sometimes it’s really a lot different. So briefly, here’s what happened to me.

Studying Mechanical Engineering
When I was at the university studying Mechanical Engineering and technical design, there were at lot of my classmates who were from foreign countries like Ghana, Cameroon and Liberia in Africa, in particular. They were constantly asking me questions on English language vocabulary, idioms, expressions and usage. It wasn’t too long before I developed a keen interest in advancing my own skills and abilities as a native speaker of English, so it actually became my second major giving me Engineering and English degrees.

Hubble Telescope image:

Working for NASA
First, I worked as an electro-mechanical and avionics designer for NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for a number of years working on the Hubble Telescope (fine guidance simulators) and Voyager 2 spacecraft (RTG unit) among others. Included in this stint were tenures as a technical design consultant with other high-tech and aerodynamics companies as well.

Later I began to teach EFL classes to foreign immigrants part-time, evenings and weekends in state government funded programs. One of my first classes was a group of Chinese immigrants who had been in the U.S. for less than a week. I quickly found out I needed more training. After completing a CELTA EFL training course (at that time a TEFL Certificate from the Royal Society of Arts) and TBE (Teaching Business English) certifications and then furthering my university education to post-graduate levels in Education and ELT at Harvard in Boston, UC in San Francisco and OHC in Barcelona, Spain, I took a sabbatical from NASA and began working abroad teaching English at universities.

No Regrets
That was 15 years ago now and I’ve never regretted the decision to teach English. Through teaching, education, travel and related experiences in my own foreign language learning, I’ve grown and matured as an English language teaching professional. Teaching English has provided me with the opportunity to travel extensively by visiting or living in 22 countries world wide. So the experience overall has enriched my life to an almost untold degree.

A Special Surprise
Now, how about you? How did YOU become an English teacher? E-mail me with your story in brief or post it in comments. The most interesting stories will receive a special surprise.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, expert author and public speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, "If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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