I’m a teacher again. Specifically, I’m teaching ESL in Portland for Kaplan, the test prep company. After quite some time casting about for jobs, temping, and in general looming about and hoping that I’d win the Employment Lottery in the midst of a recession, I’m doing the same sort of thing that I used to do one ocean away. I’m quite pleased with this, really. Not only is it nice being employed, but I’ll cop to the fact that I’m really happy that I have an ego-affirming brain-based job that caters to very smart people. I don’t consider myself too good to wait tables, but it’s very nice to get paid because I have a big, squishy brain.
So far, the job is quite different from what I did at GEOS, which is nice, because towards the end of my stay in Japan GEOS was getting under my skin in lots of really irritating ways. As much as I liked (most of) my students, the company itself was less than inspiring. Kaplan itself is a subsidiary of the Washington Post, and so far my distant corporate masters seem pretty benign. It’s the arrangement of the school itself, though, that I’m quite liking.
For one thing, my students now come from a variety of backgrounds. Most of them are from Saudi Arabia or Korea, and if they want to talk to each other, they have to use English. I quite like this built-in incentive in the class, though clumps of like nationalities do tend to sit together, something I’ve tried to break up when I have them do group work.
That’s something else I like. There are a lot of them, and I can run large-scale class activities. Previously, I had between three to five students in a class most of the time, and while that setup has its advantages, the change is nice.
So far, though, the thing that I’m most pleased with the fact that I have the same students every single day, for three hours at a time. I did like the variety at GEOS, teaching different students throughout the week, but I often wondered what I could do as teacher if I had the same students more often. Now I have an opportunity to find out. Running a large class for three hours a day is quite different than running weekly hour-long sessions. The students themselves seem like a good lot, mostly university aged students. They’re all quite bright and creative, which makes things easier on my end. A few of them have rather fiendish imaginations that show up in their creative writing assignments.
This is all very nice for me, really. I had an interview with the Peace Corps (Plan B) a few weeks ago, and was told that if they take me (which they probably will) I’d most likely get put in a teaching position, barring some sort of unforseen torrent of English teachers into the program. I’m angling to get the Peace Corps to send me to China, and given that that’s where most of the English Teaching jobs are, that’s not an impossibility.
If I get invited to an Oral Assesment with the Foreign Service (Plan A) it definitely wouldn’t hurt to be able to say, “Well, yes, I just so happen to spend quite a lot of time talking to foreigners on a regular basis. It’s kind of my thing.” I’m hoping that a State Department functionary will perhaps raise their eyebrow in approval at this, or at least give a “hmm” of mild interest.
So, things are great for the time being. I have a nice place, a job, plans for the future, and have been satisfied with my recent creative pursuits. I could get used to this.