Monday, March 16, 2009

Is Teaching English as a Foreign Language Abroad DANGEROUS?

Is English Language Teaching Safe?

With news of the suspicious deaths of several English as a Foreign Language teachers in various countries during the past few weeks, the question now arises:

“Is teaching English as a foreign language abroad safe?”

For those who want to work abroad, there are a variety of options. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is but one of these, although for native English language speakers with a TEFL certificate it can be a simple, yet profitable and rewarding one.

English as a Foreign Language Teaching: A Life-Altering Event

However, new information is continually coming to light from countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia which likely will give many cause to pause and reflect on a decision of this magnitude. Yes, it’s no exaggeration that teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad can easily be a life-altering event. It’s not infrequently that teachers leave their homeland for foreign soil and return years or even decades later. Some never return at all.

ESL Daily Reports

Recently in the “ESL Daily” reports of the “suspicious” deaths of EFL teachers in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, China and now Benin, have now rocked the TEFL ex-pat world. True, some countries and locations are well-known to be inherently more risky and dangerous than others. I certainly know first hand of what I speak. I live and teach English as a Foreign Language in Colombia, arguably in the “Top Ten” most potentially dangerous countries in the world, according to the U.S. government’s State Department and the CIA`s World Factbook reports. So should current and prospective EFL teachers abandon the field for “safer”, more secure occupations or locales? What are some reasonable precautions one might take when considering teaching English abroad as an on-going profession? Is a particular ethnic group, race, religion or gender at an abnormally high risk?

Consider Questions Like …

What if you`re a Single White Female?
What if you`re elderly?
What if you`re white in a predominantly black country?
What if you`re black in a predominantly white country?
How about if you’re a Christian in a predominantly Muslim locale?

These are but a smattering of the questions which now stream through the hearts and minds of concerned English Language Teaching professionals and their families worldwide.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about the growing danger to English language teachers abroad? We’ll continue to examine some of these and other critical issues and questions in upcoming posts. In the meanwhile, stay tuned – and do be more careful.

Please Note: The author also wishes to express his deepest condolences to the family and friends of Catherine "Kate" Puzey.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, 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.


Anonymous said...

Tough question to ask. There are a lot of factors involved.

One being what country you are in or plan to go. But that may not be too dangerous itself, I know one teacher in Iraq who is as safe as safe can be, however, he never leaves his commune and is bored to death.

Two, what is your life style... If you go out partying, go home alone and carry a lot of money, you are putting yourself in a landmine field.

Don't mean to be sexist on the third, but being a woman is a risk. I know several EFL teachers who had been raped. One because she allowed herself to become too close to a man (student) at the wrong place and time. Another because she left her door unlocked in her apartment.

There are so many factors, but I think the biggest danger for an EFL teachers is the lack of common sense. Make sure you have it while choosing your host country and while in the country.

Lock your door.
Don't travel alone.
Don't put yourself in bad situations...

The TEFL Tradesman said...

The most dangerous people you are likely to meet when you're teaching abroad are your colleagues - and your boss! Choose wisely - there are some real fruitcakes out there, and you don't want to be sharing a staffroom, or an apartment, with one of them!

J. Carlos said...

Hello, thanks for the guidelines about teaching abroad. You can read this related post.

-Language teaching abroad:

Good luck