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Teach English Abroad in Spain: different travel content for different countries
By: Contributors (justin) 2011.02.23


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English is your language passport to almost any country in the world. Proper English, that is. Can't be droppin' street rhymes to Cambodian highschoolers and expect to keep your job. But if you're willing to recall some proper pronunciation and grammar, then it's golden. (Take a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course to brush up.) Just about wherever you want to hit, a classroom's waiting for you. Check out the postcards from teaching English abroad in Spain around the world.


Teaching in the Amazon
By Miranda Thomson

Know anyone who has never heard an English song lyric before? Never seen a Hollywood movie? There are not many people in the world. Some, however, live in the Amazon. My students at the Kapawi eco-village had never heard a native English speaker before, let alone heard western music.
I quickly realized that teaching in the same style as the Cambridge Beginners textbook wasn't going to work. The vocabulary and role-plays simply weren't applicable. Why would one of my students ever need to know what the difference between a one way and return plane ticket was? They needed to know what a capybara, tapir and piranha was. They needed to know how to guide in English. How to tell a tourist to watch out for the incredibly venomous snake they are about to tread on.

Of course few people on earth need English for the same reasons as the people of the Amazon. It is one of the few weapons they have to defend their land. Both to understand the negotiations with the oil companies that are taking place now and also to understand the outside world that is encroaching increasingly quickly on them.


Teaching in Spain
By Janette Porta

Paella, la Ruta de Bacala, sunshine, teaching English in Spain, Ole! My private students at the small institute for English in the heart of Valencia are not very interested in grammar. They want to know what the lyrics mean to the new Britney Spears song. Do I translate?

My favorite part of this experience is teaching conversation skills and exchanging cultural information at the small tapa bar across the street from the school. Some students and I go after class to practice English in a less formal setting. We are not only sharing information, but growing friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.


Teaching in Thailand
By Rebecca Schultz

"Can you spell headache?" I asked my most troublesome student at Daruna College in Ratchaburi, Thailand. "You can't have a headache if you can't spell it."

He was confused enough to forget about his headache and focus on the work he was supposed to be doing.

What do you want to be when you grow up? These were the words written in big green letters on the whiteboard. The conscientious student next to him was concentrating so hard his tongue followed his words as he wrote: "I want to be like you. I want to be a teacher." I smiled. He continued writing: "And a woman."

The bell rang and the students scattered. Just as eager to leave the school behind for the weekend, I grabbed my bag and quickly walked out of the school gates, past the market stalls to the Bangkok bus.

"Happy Birthday," a man yelled to me from inside the shop near the bus station, just as he did every time he saw me. "Happy Birthday," I replied. A strange transaction you might think, but these were the only English words the old shopkeeper knew. I was happy, even though I had a splitting headache. If only I couldn't spell "headache", I thought, smiling to myself.


Teaching in Siberia
By Jessica Jacobson

I live and teach in Aginsk, Siberia, which is the capital (if a village of 15,000 can be called a capital) of the Aginsk Buryat Autonomous Oblast. Seventy percent of the residents, and all of my students, are Buryat, descendants of Genghis Kahn's Mongol tribes.
The Buryat culture places a high value on education. An oft-repeated proverb states, "Knowledge is the most valuable wealth, for it is the only thing that no one can take away." Parents are eager for their children to learn English and the entire community is appreciative of my presence. They and their children want work and travel opportunities and know that these are linked with strong English skills.

The Russian school system presents plenty of challenges. Cheating is rampant and many teachers give high marks for little or no work. All students study English from 5th through 11th grades, but upon graduation, few can freely carry on a conversation. In addition, merit does not get students as far as Western teachers might hope. Both connections and influence play a large role in university admissions and job hunting.

Despite the difficulties, many of my students are motivated to succeed. They will be the first generation without memories of Communism to construct a new Russia. Their hope inspires me.


Teaching in Japan
By Dipika Kohli

You need a couple of things to teach English out here. Number one: a passport. Number two: a diploma. Number three: Photographs. Lots of them, 2" x 2" preferred. Optional: a guidebook and J-rail pass. Finally, it is desirable to have that penultimate Japanese virtue: patience.

Japanese students have a brilliant grasp of the technical side of English, having gone through rigorous, rote exercises beginning with sentences like "This is a pen."

Japan is a wonderland for anyone who loves travel and the outdoors, with hostel-friendly towns by lakes and in mountains. Take advantage of the well-connected railways to explore. Old temples of Kyoto, sample local brews of Sapporo or the nightlife, always hopping, of Tokyo's bizarre Roppongi district.

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