President, TESOL Voyages, LLC
Before the Internet—Summer 1986
A VW van was the best way to find a teaching job in Europe. You could mail letters by the dozens and rarely get an answer. Overseas telephone calls were expensive. Only big companies had telex machines, and who knew how to send a telex anyway?
So you bought a ticket for a charter flight, or maybe on Icelandic Air, and landed one morning in Amsterdam, the cheapest destination. With no sleep and little money, you found the American Express office and talked with the international travelers hanging around there. (No one had an American Express card, but that’s where young foreign travelers congregated.) You saw someone holding up a sign and bought a used vehicle from him. If you were lucky, you had a motivated seller, who had a plane ticket to return home the next day. You fired up the noisy engine and started traveling and camping around Europe, looking for work.
That’s how I found a job teaching English at the Berlitz School in Frankfurt.
I’d done something similar in Japan. I took a cheap flight to Tokyo and caught trains and hitchhiked north to Sapporo, on the island of Hokkaido. I’d come with the vague promise of working for a tape-recording company that sold English-language cassettes. It turned out I was just window dressing, or sakura, as the Japanese say, a cherry blossom. A salesman would take me around to the electronics corner of various department stores. After he gathered an audience, I would talk about learning English until he interrupted me and translated. “He is talking about the importance of English in the world, and how he guarantees this cassette program will have you speaking English in a week.” Right. I stayed with the company until I got a real job with a real school.
When I got back to the States, I started managing a school that taught English as a Second Language in San Francisco. We also placed American teachers in language schools in Japan and South Korea.
Since the Internet—Summer 2016
Fast forward to today, when the Internet has listings for thousands of English-teaching jobs in over a hundred countries. Those schools would never take a chance on someone like me, looking for work with little to offer but enthusiasm. These days, being a native speaker of English isn’t enough to get you a job. And believe me, it’s much more comfortable to know what you are doing.
TESOL Voyages was created to help the adventurous of any age learn how to teach English to speakers of other languages. We can also help you find work, even help you through your first month on the job. A TESOL Voyages certificate guarantees that you have the training to teach American English—that you are ready for travel and teaching!