Lessons for a Teacher

I’ve started my 8th week of teaching English as a second language (ESL) and I’m learning a lot. (This is not new for me – I was en ESL teacher three years ago, and I taught ESL in Mozambique for 7 months). One of my favorite parts about teaching ESL is that I get to learn so much about the world without leaving home. Every class feels like a visit to a hostel in Europe. I teach adults, so I get to teach classes about alcohol, or picking up people at a bar. My students come from all over, and every class we spend time sharing about our own cultures. Here are some interesting things I’ve learned:

In Saudi Arabia, the sun is so intense that people replace the grass in their gardens 5-6 a year! While I knew that alcohol is forbidden, I learned that every town has a “foreign” compound where you can drink and do all sorts of sinful western things!

In Brazil, there’s a superstition that if you leave your purse on the floor you’ll have bad luck. However, if you put your purse on the floor of a rich home you’ll absorb some of the wealth. Also, it’s very common to have a housekeeper. Even housekeepers have housekeepers!

In Korea, they still use skin bleach. When I asked the students to talk about the first thing they will do when they get home, one Korean girl said she would lighten her skin. When I showed surprise the other Korean girls said it was common, and that freckles were not considered attractive. I’d be pretty ugly in Korea!

In Spain, the government pays for students to come to America or England to study English.

In Switzerland, you can opt out of the mandatory army, but you need to pay 3% of your salary from ages 18-33. If you’re unemployed, you still need to pay $400 a year.

I’ve learned a lot more, and I have students from many more countries, but those were just some of the stories that stood out to me. If anyone loves to travel, meet new people, and share about their culture, teaching ESL is a great job!


  1. My husband and I have been sitting here talking about these fun tidbits of information. We are both enjoying them. Thanks for taking the time to write them up. Your view of the world is always a joy for me. You are teaching me more than I get out to see. THANKS!


    1. Glad you enjoyed! Another thing I learned: In Japan, when you lose a tooth you throw the bottom teeth on the roof of your house, and the top teeth under your house. It’s supposed to bring good luck.


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