To travel hopelessly

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I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend - who has a Master's, the DELTA and a PhD in ESL- and mentioned something from EnglishTeacherX- you're paid to turn up, regardless of anything like a hangover. He said that the guy's professionalism put him in the shade. ETX has produced two of the golden rules of ESL, though To Travel Hopelessly shows that he learned one from another teacher. Other than turning up however bad you feel, he also says that you must have your fare out of a country.  If you don't you can be exploited.

ETX set up a website, long dead, that documented the dark side of teaching ESL. Recently he has been re-publishing the content along with newer stuff. I tried to buy it, but the payment system didn't work and he sent me everything for free, so it seems appropriate to review all the things he sent me.

I started teaching in 1983 and it was a very different world.  To Travel Hopelessly looks at Thailand and Korea a decade later. It's a world of weird people and misfits.  I went to South East Asia in 2004 and it wasn't that different from the book, though I was in Cambodia not Thailand. These were the glory days of ESL- people who wanted to travel abroad when there was no internet and globalisation had not hit supermarkets were an asset.  Ten years after I left Portugal, I saw job adverts offering less than when I had been there.

The world ETX describes is another age, where simply being a native speaker in a place was enough to earn a reasonable salary, and it attracted far more than its fair share of oddballs. ESL today is not the Wild West - you earn less and more will be expected of you - but this book is a well-written look at what it was like in those days. It's not the best thing he has written, and I will go through the lot as he sent them to me, but it's a very interesting read.

Categories: Asian Blog

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