On The Job

Not a nomad nor a merchant marine.

Goat Herder holding lizard traps with his dinner in one of them.
Water colours: raw sewage staines the river.
I'm at work
More Light!
The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll.
It's a cock/rooster and every morning he'd perform for the masses in Saigon's Pham Ngu Lao district
Sancta Sedes - The Sacred Seat
When having a party, go first; when walking in the water, go after.
Teacher Mike says, "Shhhhh."
Colouring Time!
What's your profession? Please describe it.

Some simply call me teacher, where others say I'm an English teacher. Some get a bit more technical and so my title becomes Language Trainer, but I am branded as an EFL teacher within the industry; EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language.

So, I teach the English language with all its ins and outs to those whose mother tongue isn't English.

This job isn't rocket science but it does require a great amount of skill for you deal with a lot of people. It means that tact is of great importance and being relatively extroverted helps though being cocky can often get your students annoyed.

I have odd hours considering I am a teacher; I tend to work afternoons and evening and I don't get summers off cause it doesn't pay enough for me to take two months off. And I teach all levels of English; from beginners to academic training and most ages; from five year-olds to those who seem to have a foot in the grave. Within this range of students you find all walks of life and a very interesting representation of a country

Where do you do this?

People do this all over the world. I've been doing this in northern Portugal since October but I have also done it in Syria, Chile, Vietnam, Spain and on and off in the UK. In the future I hope to be able to do this in Angola or Brazil.

Do you enjoy what you do?

Overall, I do enjoy what I do, but that's because I tend to have lots of free time to pursue my hobbies. I also get to meet loads of people who in turn teach me about their country, customs and cuisine.

The best thing about this job is when you land into a country that instantly gives you a good vibe. Vietnam was such a country. And from there on I saw what a great place it was. It is colourful, vibrant and friendly. Its people made this job worth wild because it was them who made it easy to get up and out of bed or make you dread ever being born. Of all the people I have ever taught, they managed to teach me and frustrate me the most!

When you were young, what did you want to "be" when you grew up?

An astronaut, a professional musician (trumpet), Vegas lounge singer, Arctic fire-fighter, writer/painter, Buddhist monk.

Do you feel stuck doing what you are doing?

Aye, very much so! Sometimes I want to jump out of my skin and run and I'm still waiting for the Earth to stop spinning long enough for me to get off.

The thing about this job is that it isn't always rewarding, or that it is rarely rewarding. Students may appreciate you but they tend to get pissed off with you at some point and in this type of teaching they are more than welcomed to complain. It is in fact a skill that we have to teach them, that is to complain and write a letter of complaint. It's a real Catch 22 type situation.

What are the most and least satisfying parts of your job?

People are both the most and least satisfying part of the job. I think anyone who often has to deal with large numbers of people on a daily basis will understand this. And even those who don't work with the masses shouldn't find it too difficult of a concept to grasp.

On my busiest days I'll teach up to eight consecutive hours meaning four different classes and potentially eighty students (luckily someone is usually absent.) On good days I'll read twenty or so essays and a handful will stand out and make my day. On the best days, some of the kids that I teach will make me laugh so much from something they said or wrote that I'll be giddy for a over week.

How do you combine photography with your job?

I don't teach a lot so this allows me to wander around my new host country and photograph its people, landscapes and its generally unknown quirky oddities.

Because I'm not just visiting or travelling through I have more than enough time to get to know the locals and students who tend to be more than happy to point out all the hot spots that aren't found in travel guides so it allows for some unique photo opportunities, though sometimes what the guide book has to suggest is better.

Anything else you'd like to add?

The collection of photos that are seen here are all of Vietnam. I lived in Saigon otherwise known as Ho Chi Minh City for a year. This were some of the things that I found most interesting or beautiful whilst I lived there.

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—The JPG team

1 response

  • Yassine Hakimi

    Yassine Hakimi (Deleted) said (21 Aug 2009):

    great story and cool collection of photos.

    Your shot "Teacher Mike says, "Shhhhh."" got me hooked on the TPR subject, and I've been reading about it for 2 days now.:)

    Thanks for sharing this story.

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