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Stories from the Front Lines of EFL

Individual teacher stories of teaching EFL around the world

Teaching middle school students in South Korea (by Dayle Major)


dayle 3I teach in a rural area of South Korea at a couple of middle schools: one is located about 10 minutes about outside the city and has about 190 students whom I see three days a week; the other school is in the countryside (it’s adjacent to a rice field) and has about 32 students whom I see the other two days a week. The students are 13 to 16 years old and have varied backgrounds and competencies. While some are from white- or blue-collar families, others are from families that farm. What’s it like teaching these students? (more…)

Teaching Kindergarteners in Turkey:Enjoying Every Minute of It (by Özge Karaoğlu)

“To teach is to touch lives forever.”

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be an English teacher! It was because my mum was my kindergarten teacher. She was so creative, engaging and inspiring that I wanted to be a teacher just like her. I had my own chalkboard at home and I was always the teacher when we played “school” with my friends. I think I’ve always had this huge passion for teaching and, today I have been an English teacher for eight years in Istanbul, Turkey. (more…)

I’ll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours (by Steven Herder)


Steve in class 2 copy

Committed to learning

After 20 years in the EFL classroom, I still learn new things all the time. Certainly, here in Japan, the students are completely different than they were back in 1989; in those days, they all sat up straight, had their hair braided back and always made an effort (or pretended to, anyways) whether they liked English or not. These days, things are a little more… normal,  for want of a better word. The students make me work harder to get their attention, and they don’t try, if they are not interested in my lesson. I’ve had to grow as a teacher and adapt my lessons over the years. Here is a glimpse of my context, my approach and my challenges with my junior high school students at this particular point in my career: (more…)

The Treasures of Teaching (by Joanne Sato)

Joanne SatoHi. I’m a British woman who has been living and teaching in Japan for thirteen years. I have lived in Fukushima (yes, THAT Fukushima) city for the last ten of those and work at a women’s college. I have an MA in TEFL from the University of Birmingham, England. I am currently days away from giving birth to my second daughter and getting ready to leave the city I have come to regard as my home and embark on a new life in Sendai city. Here are five, very small, contextually specific observations/things I wanted to share on my life as a teacher. I hope you find them of interest. If not, I hope you come up with your own and ask Barbara to share them here. (more…)

Teaching English in Europe and the U.K. (by Sandy Millin)

I’m a native Brit who loves languages. I did my CELTA during my final year of uni when I was studying French, German and Spanish. Once I’d finished my degree I decided to head straight to Europe and start my English teaching adventures, but rather than going somewhere where I could already speak the language, I took the plunge and went to the Czech Republic, a country which I didn’t really know that much about, but where there was a job available at a good school.

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Teaching in a Buddhist Monastery in India (by Anna Greenwood)

I am teaching in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery school in India. The area surrounding the school is rural; we have fields of ginger and coconut trees. The school is provided for the monks that live in the monastery and is entirely funded through the monastery. I see the students for one class a day. There are no out of school activities; these students study Buddhist subjects both before and after school. (more…)

One week in my Second Life (by Baldric Commons)


In case some of you didn’t know it, Second Life (SL) is a relatively new country where the rules of Real Life (RL) often don’t apply. For instance, you can fly and teleport from one place to another in the blink of an eye. It’s an interesting place to work as a teacher, although jobs are hard to come by.

I consider myself one of the fortunate ones, having been able to earn a living working in Second Life since 2006. I’m busier than ever there and am writing this to share with you a typical week in the life of an avatar teacher. (more…)

Teaching English in Brazil (by Henrick Oprea)

Brazil is a wonderful country, well known for its hospitable inhabitants, samba, its amazing football squad, and a couple of other traits which make it a great place to spend your vacations in. Most foreigners I’ve talked to would like to visit Rio de Janeiro or the Northeast of the country, famous for its beaches. I’m not fortunate to teach in any of these cities, or anywhere near the beach. I live in Brasília, the capital of Brazil, which is located in the centre of the country. Just so you know, if I want to go to the beach, I need to travel more than 1.000 kilometres. It’s a country with continental dimensions, and being a language teacher in such a place can be difficult at times. But, what do I mean by that?

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Teaching High School in Croatia (by Arjana Blazic)

To teach is to touch a life forever.

I have been trying to enhance my teaching with the new technologies since 1997 when I created my first web page while attending a seminar on New Technologies in Modern Language Teaching in Finland. But everything I did over those twelve years was nothing compared to what I have been doing since I joined Twitter and built my PLN in April 2009.

Today my students and I use technology to connect with students and teachers from all over the world. We tweet, we ning, we skype, we glog, we wiki, we blog … we learn, we understand, we respect. (more…)

Recognizing the Worthy

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

Abraham Lincoln

I started blogging to explore a belief that “we are stronger, better teachers when we work together, share our knowledge, and connect with others.” I’m only marginally better at the tech stuff now than I was at the start, but I’ve learned a lot about the power of the internet to create a community of teachers.

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