Teaching Abroad And Reaching Out

When we live in our hometown for too long we can reach a certain level of ‘stuckness’. We go to the same places, do the same things each weekend and don’t make much effort to meet new people because of our existing group of friends. We feel that we have enough friends, so why should we bother making new friends? We stick with what we know and we stay in a circle of comfort. Of course being content with our lives is something to strive for but when there is a sense of laziness, and no motivation for self-growth within our lives, drastic change is needed!

I have lived in Cape Town for twenty four years and have always loved living there but I got to a stage where I felt sick of it and wanted to go somewhere far away and teach English! I felt like I wasn’t moving forward there and taking this leap was what I needed. Coming to teach English in Taiwan, a place I didn’t know a lot about but I felt good about has definitely been the right decision.

Travelling alone and getting lost has made me learn, whatever happens ‘don’t panic’. Stay as calm and centred as possible and take things one step at a time. Travelling alone one cannot rely on anyone but oneself so naturally one reaches out quickly to new friends, and new opportunities, which I have grabbed with both hands. Taiwan has some beautiful areas and the people have bowled me over with their kindness and honesty. I have felt liberated to be able walk around at night and feel safe. Because I am happy to be somewhere new I appreciate the small things as well as the bigger things.

Teaching has made me learn from my mistakes quickly and change them to make my classes the best they can be. Teaching is not just about what I have  learnt in training and in a TEFL course its about what I have learnt over my whole life and I have brought all my resources to the classroom: creativity, knowledge, improvisation, being a student myself and past experience working with children.

First time teaching children English, first time in Asia and still adjusting to the culture and language change, the first week of teaching was hard, I did feel chucked in the deep end and homesickness hit me like a brick on the head. I got over it, I told myself in the first week: ‘adapt or die’. Keep your head up and just keep swimming. I have found key aspects of a good lesson have been fun drills, balancing the student’s abilities and keep the class flowing quickly. Of course having a sense of humor is important which not many of my teachers I had growing up had!

I recommend teaching abroad if you have the money, have an open mind and don’t have to break too many ties at home. As some motivational quotes say: ‘leap and the net will appear’ and ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ Be spontaneous, be open-minded and break your own barriers! Life will be more fulfilling! 

Caley Wildman is a South African ESL teacher. She arrived in Taiwan in August 2013 and has been busy getting to know her colleagues and students. You can find her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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