Private Tutoring Overseas: Teach English Conversation Abroad
Whether you’re a retired bagpipe player, a wick trimmer in a candle factory, or a sixteen-year-old escapee from high school, by the very fact that you can read these lines, you are also the possessor of an extremely valuable resource that millions of persons need and want desperately: the ability to understand and speak English.
You may be surprised. “Me, teach English?” you may say. “Why, I wouldn’t know an adverb from an anvil. Besides, I hated English in school and failed French 101 to boot.”
Stop and think about it. To help a foreigner improve his or her English, you do not have to know how to describe your language scientifically nor how to critique its literature. You don’t have to be good at languages at all. (However, if you learned English at the tender age of two, you have a lot more going for you than you think!)
The Ability to Listen and Provide Feedback
Actually, the most basic skill required of you is the ability to recognize that what a Spaniard just said (“I no want to go Madrid.”) sounds a bit odd – that you and most other English speakers would have said it another way. If you are then capable of raising a warning finger and saying, “Something’s wrong with that. Try to say that again,” you are just about ready to sit down with a foreigner for an hour and provide the most valuable commodity a non-native-speaker could ever wish: feedback.
Your foreign student may be quite good at reading English and may even have memorized an entire book of grammar, but when it comes to speaking and listening to the language, the help of a native is indispensable and it is neither the Queen’s English nor the scholar’s English he seeks, but the ordinary language spoken at home, heard on TV or used on the telephone. He wants to listen to how you say it and he wants you to listen to how he says it.
English Conversation Classes in Spain
To cite only one example, take the case of Tom Baker. As a Peace Corps volunteer, he was bitten by the travel bug. He was a skilled carpentry instructor, but he had no experience in language teaching. One day, he found himself in Barcelona. He fell in love with the city and decided to stay a while. It didn’t take long to discover that the best-paying language schools wouldn’t hire him without a proper degree or certificate, so Baker decided to find his own students.
He put on a tie and went to visit all the businesses in the neighborhood. In halting Spanish he offered to hold English conversation classes with interested employees. In no time at all, he had several groups of enthusiastic students and temporary permission to work in Spain.
Before even contemplating the possibility of overseas English tutoring, you need to know what the local laws permit and you also need to reflect on how you can be of real assistance to an overseas student of English.