This week, I’ve been writing about my decision to return to school to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and how that has led me to spend the next eight weeks teaching in El Salvador.
The decision to teach abroad came about because I wanted to spend some time volunteer teaching in a place where English was not the native language. Until the past few months, I vastly underestimated how challenging it is to really learn a language. Now, I’ll be able to see what it’s like to live in a place with only a passing knowledge of the language. It seems important to have an understanding of this before embarking on my new career. I chose to teach in Latin America because many people in the US who are learning English as a second language are from there. Living there would help me to better understand the culture. It would also give me a chance to improve my skills in speaking Spanish as well as in teaching English. After searching around a bit, I found a teaching placement in El Salvador.
Many people have questioned why I chose El Salvador, which is neither a popular destination nor known for being the safest place. The placement agency that I chose is called Travel to Teach. They would provide me with an opportunity to teach (as opposed to other service work), have a very sustainable program, and espoused values on their website that were consistent with my own. They offered positions in four Latin American countries. I chose El Salvador for a few reasons. One was a chance to try to experience the community. I would live and work in a small city in which I could walk between home and my placement. The idea of trying to fit into a community and live with a local family was greatly appealing. Reading about El Salvador, I was struck by the number of people who said how friendly and helpful the local people are. Also, while there are safety concerns, people from the U.S. are not intentionally targeted and the risks in many other countries seemed roughly similar. Tomorrow, the adventure begins.