By Ken, Teacher in Warsaw
In case you don’t know who I am, I am a teacher at a private language school in Warsaw, Poland. You may have seen some of my blogs about teaching and Poland, and today I’d like to share with you why I became a teacher in the first place. Before I began teaching in Poland I was an assistant teacher in elementary and high schools in Tokyo and other areas of Japan, and before that I worked in sales and customer service in many jobs. So why did I decide a change of jobs would be the best thing? I shall explain…..
Every little helps
Those of you from the UK will understand the reference!
I always enjoyed helping people. When I worked in customer service and sales I really enjoyed helping people and adapting myself to their needs. I would always perform really well in such roles and one of the main reasons why I fell out of love with sales is that a lot of companies really do put profits over actually helping the customer. Many sales jobs that I had were honestly just about ripping off the customer and selling them overpriced and overhyped products which never really struck me as being ethical. But hey, money makes the world go round and all that!
One of the things I really like about teaching is the thanks I get from students. One student told me that she gave a presentation completely in English and she was delighted with how it went! It’s always nice to know that you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life and it does make you feel good about yourself! But enough cheese……..
Skills to pay the bills
Since my career was based on helping and dealing with customers, I realised a couple of things:
- I had become very adept at dealing with many different types of people from many different backgrounds
- Many of the skills I had gained from sales/customer service were transferable to teaching
- Building rapport with people is something I had become really good at
I feel that anyone who has a background in customer service and who is actually good at customer service would make a good teacher since you are trained from day one to imagine yourself in the customer’s shoes and how to build rapport and connections really quickly. With what I had learnt during my time in customer service/sales and what transferable skills I had acquired, I felt that I would be a decent teacher. So if you have a natural flair for getting along with people, teaching could be a great change of career!
You’re in control
As a teacher who is technically self-employed I am free to plan my schedule as I wish. I tell my school when I’m available to take lessons and they give me lessons according to my schedule. Easy! Any holidays I need are automatically approved and I can (theoretically) take as many holidays as I want! Of course, I’m not paid unless I teach, but it’s still a lifestyle that really suits me.
Also, you’re getting paid to do what you do every day. Talking English! Yes, you’ll need to have a relatively good grasp of basic grammatical structures/vocabulary but these can be learnt on the job and in many schools they will give you a teacher guide/training on how to present and conduct lessons effectively. Or you can just read my previous blogs. I promise they’re worth it………
There is ALWAYS demand for English teachers. Whether it be your waiter at your local restaurant or the director of your bank (I have taught some directors at banks before!) There are a lot of people who want to learn English.
You are also able to source your own clients if you wish (as long as you are legally allowed to do it, this may vary from school to country)so the opportunities really are endless. My doctor asked for some private lessons, and that was a nice bit of extra income! And you have the added bonus of making your own rates so you can charge whatever you want and aren’t dictated by your employer.
If you enjoy helping others and are good at making and building connections easily and quickly I would definitely recommend teaching. Being paid just to speak a language you already know is honestly one of the most enjoyable and easiest jobs I’ve ever had and a lot of the time it doesn’t actually feel like work. As long as you are approachable, (somewhat) charming and able to speak and explain things clearly then teaching could certainly be your next gig!