From the Publisher
You’re looking at this book because you’re thinking of teaching abroad, are already overseas teaching ESL or TEFL, or you’re back home wondering what to do now.
Making the move to being an ESL teacher is great – you’re excited about new people, places and experiences. So what do you need to know to succeed?
Teaching ESL can be quite rewarding, and it can also be quite frustrating. What works, what doesn’t, and why?
Making the Move from being an ESL teacher is awesome – you’re excited about seeing old friends and getting your life started. So what’s the best way to go about doing that?
Living and teaching abroad! Oh, it sounds so wonderful, and it can be, but it can also be quite the challenge.
For 5 years I was living and teaching English in Shenzhen, China. From 2008 to 2013 I taught all manner of kids and adults and quickly found out what worked and what didn’t.
In June, 2013, I moved back to America with my wife and son, ready to start a new life. I’ve gone the full circle from knowing nothing about living and teaching abroad to coming back home after many years of doing it.
Teaching Abroad will tell you about the ESL profession, whether it’s getting into it, working at it, or getting away from it. This book takes my experiences and the experiences of others to highlight each of those three areas.
So whether you want to take the plunge, or are thinking of getting out of the water, read this book to see what works, what doesn’t, and why when it comes to teaching English and living abroad.
Getting Over Reverse Culture Shock
We’ve already discussed culture shock in Part I and how it can make the first few weeks or months of your time abroad a little tough. What’s not talked about much, however, is what happens when you go back home.
You see, just like you experienced culture shock, so too will you experience reverse culture shock. So what is that, exactly?
Reverse culture shock can be defined as emotional, mental, and physical changes or responses you have to life back in your home country. It’s often used to define the stressful, depressing, and overall often negative readjustment period you’ll go through, whether you know it or not.
Nearly all schools and training centers will use culture shock to explain why you’re feeling so bad after a month of teaching. But most won’t talk about when you go back home. After all, you’re off of their hands at that point and they’ve probably already got new teachers to train and worry about.
Expect to be frustrated, happy, angry, bitter, joyous, cranky, cantankerous, boisterous, and beleaguered your first year or so back in your home country.
You may only feel this way for a few months, or you could experience it longer. It really depends on how quickly you’re able to settle into a routine, find a place to live, get a job, reacquaint yourself with your friends – generally become a member of your own society once again.
This takes time, and I wish you the best of luck with it. I think I’m probably still going through it while I’m writing this book, as I’ve only been back in America for a little more than 6 months as of this writing.
Stages of Reverse Culture Shock
Anthropologist Kalervo Oberg put out the term and idea for culture shock in the 1950s but it wasn’t until a decade later that reverse culture shock started to be discussed. Still, other anthropologists and sociologists were working with similar cultural studies.
Here are some common stages of reverse culture shock.
Everything is Fantastic Back Home!
When you first get back home you’re going to feel ecstatic. Friends and relatives shower you with attention, and perhaps even gifts. You’ll be wined and dined just like a returning dignitary.
Perhaps you’ll travel about a bit – many former ESL teachers return home during summer – and maybe you’ll even settle into a new city...