A week ago, I wrote about the unending discrimination to ‘minorities’ who are teaching English in Asia and I can’t even swallow that word. Discrimination is a very important world issue and I think it has to stop. There were a lot of comments about the article and majority of them are Asians. Upon reading my experience in applying for a teaching job in Asia, they are now discouraged in pursuing English teaching as a means of financing their travel.
My dear fellow Asians: worry not. We are the most hardworking creatures of the world and I believe that we also have an advantage in this field. Do you want to be an English teacher in Asia? Here are the pros and cons of teaching English in Asia if you are Asian:
1. Meeting Maximum Awesome People
I’ve met a lot of incredible people from all around the globe and up until today, we still communicate and share information about teaching English in other countries. I have friends who moved from Asia to the Middle East (because of the high salary) and they always gave me tips and helped me in landing jobs in South America.
Asians are very shy people (not me though. HAHAHA!) and has a tendency to not talk to the teacher especially when the students are kids. I’ve always taught children and they are more open to learning if you look familiar. When I taught English to Japanese kids, many students would choose me even if they’re parents don’t agree because they know they can always confide in me compared to the ‘whites.’
Additionally, Asian kids think that the ‘white’ teachers would make fun of their accent so they never tried to communicate. They don’t know that the teachers will help them and not ridicule the way they speak.
3. Standing Out
Majority of the English teachers in Asia are Americans and Europeans. I once belonged to a group of teachers wherein I was the only Asian. It made me stand out in the crowd (referring to my physical attributes) and it was easier for me to get closer to the students.
4. Living in a Totally Different Culture
Do not focus more on the struggles of being an Asian English teacher in Asia. Think about the places you’re going to explore, the food you’re going to eat and the culture you are going to blend in. They will change you and will be a part of you — forever.
Asian parents are very much concerned with their children’s learning environment so to them, if you are not ‘white,’ it means you are not a ‘native’ English speaker.
Yep, I know I included this as a pro but when you look familiar to students, they will think that you speak the local language and they will not respond to you in English. The same thing happened to me in Argentina. My students knew that I am fluent in Spanish so they never talked to me in English, even in school. It was a hard battle, I tell you but you just have to be firm and speak to them in English all the time.
You will receive endless comments about you being an Asian teacher but they don’t literally mean it that way. Remember: these people are learning English so you cannot expect them to express themselves in a very classy manner. Their remarks will always put you out of ease because the English words they use are ‘inappropriate.’
More often than not, we are crushed whenever someone questions our race and brings it up all the time. You will not survive your first weeks in China if you are sensitive to remarks which they think are ‘funny.’ The tendency is that you will quit your job or move to another country. Remember, if you give up and move to another Asian country, the story will be the same no matter how much they say that some are lenient to Asian English teachers. It is even like this in other parts of the world.
Please, I ask you: do not be discouraged in applying as an English teacher if you are Asian. We are competitive, good at what we do and we all possess leadership skills so go out there and pursue your dream of traveling the world!
One day you will make history. You will be the first Asian who is the best English Teacher in Asia. Remember that and believe. You’ll be fine and there’s nothing you can’t survive — so please try it first and may the force be with you!