A Joyful, Rewarding Income You Can Earn From Home
I’ll admit it, I first started teaching English out of necessity. All I was looking for was a paycheck, a way to earn that would support the lifestyle I wanted. I didn’t think much beyond the fact that, as a native English speaker, I was sure to secure a job quickly and, as a teacher, I would have lots of vacation time. Honestly, whether or not I would like it, or if it would be rewarding, never crossed my mind.
Freedom—that’s what my priority was 11 years ago when I accepted my first English teaching job. My mind was much more focused on what teaching would allow me to do, rather than how it would impact me personally. I was wholly unprepared for the rewards of teaching English. Not that one needs to “prepare” for something so pleasing, but it did come as an unexpected shock when I realized the depth of gratitude of my students.
Perhaps because in the U.S., where I had grown up, access to quality education was a “right.” There was never any feelings of gratitude for the opportunity to learn, it was just a given. This is not the case in many countries and regions around the world. Many cultures view the right to quality education as a privilege. And, when it comes to language learning, the opportunity to learn from a native English speaker is seen as an honor and source of pride.
As a result, English-as-a-second-language teachers often receive adoration, appreciation, and gratitude.
My first teaching position was at a private, bilingual primary and secondary school in Mexico. As you know, kids live in the moment. Their world is one of complete spontaneity and exuberance. I received what I can only call “guerilla” hugs at the most unexpected times—in the middle of a sentence, from behind in the hallway, at the grocery store when I was spotted by one of my students in the “wild.” They simply could not contain their affection. By the end of my last year, I had an entire shoe box full of adoring notes, small gifts, and drawings of me, which I cherished. I found it was hard to have a bad day, even when faced with unexpected challenges. An unanticipated display of gratitude always turned things around at just the right moment.
After several years teaching primary school, I decided to try my hand at tutoring adults. I knew that “guerilla” hugs were a thing of the past and I wondered if teaching adults would feel as rewarding as teaching kids. To my surprise, the adults I tutored were even more grateful than my primary students. Young children have no context to understand the impact that learning English can have on their lives. My adult students, on the other hand, were very aware of the economic, social, and cultural benefits of learning English.
They knew that I was providing them with a way to get a higher paying job, pay for better education for their children, improve their living circumstances, buy a home…endless life upgrades. Many of my students treated me like family. I was invited to Sunday dinners, their children’s baptisms and class graduations, weddings, house warmings, baby showers, you name it. Even years after they had stopped taking lessons, if there was something to be celebrated, they wanted to make sure I was included in the “fiesta.” I can’t tell you how many times I sat at the “family” table (the only white woman in the room), laughing and cheering on the celebrations.
And my experiences are not unique. Time and time again, I hear English teachers express how rewarding it is to help their students learn the English language, mostly because the students are always so grateful. Whether you’re teaching online or “on the ground,” your students will find ways to demonstrate their appreciation. One student’s gratitude may be loud and boisterous and another’s reserved and respectful, but no matter how they express it, it is always authentic, genuine, and positively heartwarming.
Written by Kary Vannice