Thursday, January 24, 2013

Looking American...and teaching English

Yesterday at work, I was talking with my co-worker about teaching English abroad. It's a subject that I've always had interest in and have thought about doing at a few points in my life (including when I was unemployed... can I tell you that I almost convinced LoLo to let me go to his home country of the Dominican Republic for a month and teach?).

Obviously I wouldn't teach at the beach in a resort full of tourists... but it's still a pretty picture of DR.
I love the idea of teaching abroad. You know how important education is to me and I know that learning English can be the key to a better life for many people.

But yesterday, I learned a little bit about the ugly side of the way English is being taught abroad.  

One thing I learned is that these teachers may not actually have any qualifications to teach English, other than being a native speaker of the language. (In many places teachers have to take a training course, but in others, they require no training at all.)

I speak English fluently, but please do not put me in front of a classroom of students because I will have no idea how to teach it. I can't remember grammar for the life of me.

Imagine if you went to high school and your Spanish teacher had absolutely no training in being a teacher or teaching Spanish, but had grown up speaking Spanish. In many parts of this country, this would cause a huge uproar because the teacher was not qualified!

But when it comes to teaching others around the world, it's ok because they are poor and it's better than nothing, AND the teacher needs the experience for her [resume, a life changing experience, fill in the blank reason], right?

So at what cost are we sacrificing the education of those in that other country for the "experience" of the teacher?

and I have a dream that my children will live in a WORLD like this...via

One of the other things I learned is that in many countries, the people in charge of hiring the teachers often want people who "look American". And to these people, "looking American" means not black, not Hispanic, and not Asian. Meaning my future children would have a good chance of not being chosen, depending on whether they get LoLo's skin tone or mine.

That's where it hit home for me. My future children could be denied an opportunity simply because of the color of their skin.

Apparently, in other parts of the world, this discrimination and racism still exists and here in this country, nothing is being done to ensure that no matter one's skin color, he or she could teach wherever he or she desires. Instead, we go along with their discrimination and only send the teachers who "look American" to the places that make these requests.

But as the supplier, does America not have the ability and/or the leverage to say "We will not send teachers until you stop your discriminatory policies"?

And when we will the world realize that there is no such thing as "looking American"? We are currently in or about to be in an America that is majority minority and "looking American" is already impossible to define.

Will my children look less American because their skin might be tan?


Oh hello, Love said...

I see this happen quite a bit in the Mexican community, though in a slightly different way. The emphasis here is on babies in particular. A pale skin baby with blue eyes is like the ultimate godsend while a darker skin baby is looked down upon.

So then, being in a bicultural marriage, you can see where I'd be stressed about any future children. Though I'm quite pale, Adrian is darker. I pray that should I have two kids, that the discrimination the darker of the two will experience from Mexican culture somehow will not touch my kid or build him/her's strong character and grow his/her compassion for others. And I pray that my future lighter-skin child realizes that his/her skin tone makes him no better than anyone else.

Unfortunately, I know that one of my children will most likely have it more difficult than the other. I think about some of the things you and Jon dealt with that I never had to because of my pale skin and blue eyes. Though in the end, I think we all came out pretty compassionate people.

Ok I'm gonna stop. Bye!

Unknown said...

This makes me so sad. I have been thinking about teaching english abroad since I was in HS and it makes me sad that maybe I wouldn't be able to becaues I dont look white enough. For the record, I am white but people always ask me if I'm *insert like EVERY other ethnicity here*.

This post surprised me. Ridiculous.

Sarah said...

A) LOVE your blog colors.... it's so fun and fresh! B) I really feel that racism has decreased so much in our country, but realize we have so far to go. It's crazy to think that in like 500 years there won't even be "colors", rather just "shades".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this nice post. If you are seeking a cool way to receive money and want to tour the world,than teach English in abroad.

undomestic mama said...

I never thought about all the points you brought up but it's so true....and so sad at the same time.