ESL teachers would have to be one of the biggest motley crew of around. As a whole, they are people who generally know exactly what they want in life, and are incredibly determined to get what they want. But, as like all jobs, ESL teaching has a cross section of individuals who are all teaching for their own private reason. Throughout our time playing the game, we’ve come across a few characters.
This article will take a light-hearted (but somewhat true) look at those who you share the teacher’s room with.
Do You Recognize Any Of These ESL Characters?
The Spoilt Rich Girl
The Spoilt Rich Girl is generally on her first escape from mummy and daddy. Generally a family vacation for her is to head to the countryside and go for a spot of game hunting in the forest on a holiday - a far cry from where she is now. This is the kind of girl that would let out an ear-piercing scream and run away as fast as she can at the mere suspicion of the presence of a cockroach. This poor girl’s tastes for the local food simply haven’t adjusted, and so she’s forced to live on expensive western food and delivered McDonald’s and KFC on a regular basis. The Spoilt Rich Girl is always constantly on the verge of finishing her contract, packing up her backs and going home – in premium economy, courtesy of her parents.
The Guy Who’s Only Teaching Because His Wife’s Local
This guy couldn’t really give a stuff about what’s happening at the school, because he’s only working there for the visa and a source of income. He’s generally a very friendly guy, quite stable at the school and often joins for after-work drinks when he wants time away from the ‘trouble-and-strife’. Generally a very pleasant guy and has quite a good personality, although his heart may not lie with teaching.
The Broke-Poor Backpacker
Ah yes, this guy or gal has signed up to become a teacher because their bank account balance has dropped to the point where even toothpaste and shampoo is an expensive purchase. Mum and dad’s last Western Union transfer ran out a few days ago, and things are looking desperate for him. So, he’s on his last legs, and taken his final possible step to sweep him out of destitution – by becoming an ESL teacher! The ‘broke-poor backpacker’ is generally a vibrant and positive member of the staff and participates in all activities. You may even find him dating the Spoilt Rich Girl! Never loan this fellow any money, you will never see it again!
The Lifetime EFLer
One of the most annoying people you could ever meet. The Lifetime EFLer generally has a black-or-white perspective on life and will force their opinion on anyone who cares to listen. He could be viewed as a modern day hippy, someone who has become rather discontent with their lifestyle at home. The Lifetime EFLer has taught on every continent, has notched up double-digits in countries and probably triple-digits in the number of schools! He will also gladly give his two-cents worth on how the school operates, other teachers at the school, while at the same time placing himself on a pedestal. This guy will slowly begin to annoy everyone in the office by his stories of teaching in the backwaters of Columbia and how his teaching methodology is better than anyone else’s. Stay clear at all costs, when he’s talking about how great he is or how the school could be better run, just nod your head and agree, while looking for a way to get out of the conversation.
The Runaway Crim
More of a common employee at your small independent language school rather than large international schools, The Runaway Crim is someone that many of us have come across during our time playing the ESL game. The Runaway Crim is a mysterious fellow, who we never quite seem to know everything about. When you ask him about his past, he will usually answer something so general or vague, that you quickly lose interest or you just accept the fact that you don’t want to know about his past. Covered in tattoos, the Runaway Crim looks like the kind of guy who you want to steer well-clear of in a dark alley, and litters his sentences with some quite creative profanity. However, he is actually a big softie, and gets the best feedback from students!
The Che Guevara
El Che is one of the main plotters who intends to take down the person in charge, while planning to launch their own Viva la Revolution for the teachers. Che is always on the war path over low pay, excessive-teaching hours, work conditions, cleanliness of the toilet, and practically anything else he can take an opposing side on. His futile mission against the head teachers will often see him as the target by management who accuse him of contributing to a negative vibe. El Che probably won’t be seeing a second year at the school.
Ahhhh yes. The Alcoholic. He’s good mates with the Lifetime ESLer, but doesn’t associate with the rest of the group. This guy generally has his own favourite drinking spot away from the other teachers. The Alcoholic is generally uber qualified and probably possesses the skills to work at an international school. However, he works at the language centre because he can’t hold a job at any of the international schools -that, and the fact that classes don’t start until 3pm! He will often come in late, wears really-dull shirts with mismatching ties, and reeks of alcohol (or Old Spice). He’s the one who always complains about having no money after one-week of receiving his monthly salary, and is always the first to ask the boss for an advance of his pay. Remarkably, this guy has managed to keep his job at the language school as is a grammar whiz and receives some of the best feedback from students! If you ever lend this guy any money, don’t ever expect to see it again.
The Wannabe Local
A bit of a loner in the teacher’s room, the Wannabe Local generally can be seen sitting at the rather unhygienic looking food stall down the street or chatting and laughing with the local staff. He is generally fluent in the local language, has a local wife, wears typical local clothing and serves as a common go-to person for advice on cultural differences or translations. For a new teacher at the school, he comes across as slightly arrogant due to the philosophy that while in a foreign country, he will attempt to live as much like the locals as possible. The Wannabe Local is great for the school, as he generally keeps out of office politics and is quite a conscientious employee. This guy saves an absolute shirt-load of money, as he lives in local style accommodation and takes the non-air-conditioned, jam-packed local bus to work, that looks like it will fall apart in the next summer breeze.
Have you ever worked with any of these people or have some other characters that often grace the teacher’s room with their presence? Leave your comments below, we’d love to hear from you.
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