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exist, the “foreign teacher” is often left to plan each lesson from scratch. Many complain about the burden this imposes on top of already long teaching days. Others, however, note that it provides them the space to explore themes like global citizenship, cross-cultural communication and social justice through the medium of ELT. Of course, there are major differences between what can be accomplished with adults versus

language pedagogy—multiple teaching techniques, maximum student participation, vocabulary building, interactive, fun—and left the students with an intimate awareness of some of the complexities of the human rights concept. Other critical methods are even simpler. For

example, look at the texts you are using and challenge those that present racialized peoples in a negative light, or are exclusively illustrated with white characters, or only use “normal” English names, or perpetuate gender stereotypes. In one project, we found teachers working with a version of the old folk tale, “The Little Mermaid,” in which the mermaid becomes a “real girl” only once she marries a man. Not wishing to perpetuate such sexist stereotypes, we replaced it with Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess, in which the prince fails miserably at saving the day and the princess is the heroine instead. When you are looking for a teaching placement,

choose a public school over a private school, if possible. In South Korea, the location of the bulk of my own experience, private after-school academies (“hagwon” in Korean) are very popular, but can also be extraordinarily expensive. As a result, the differences in English ability between children from poor and wealthy families are astonishing. By opting to work at a public school, you will be contributing significantly to a more egalitarian society. Finally, learn earnestly about the culture and

children, advanced learners versus beginners. If you are committed to using the space that exists to address critical themes, you may wish to search for a position that will allow you to explore these themes deeply, in other words, advanced level adult learners. The vast majority of you will work with lower level young learners, however. Do not despair; your ideas may require some tinkering, but you’d be surprised what can be accomplished even with beginner level children. The trick lies in distilling abstract and complicated ideas down to their basic elements, and then building fun, simple lessons around those. Consider this example: you want to do a lesson

on the concept of human rights—pretty heavy stuff. One group I worked with came up with the idea of having the students (sixth grade) work in groups to make their own lists of “children’s rights.” The groups then negotiated with each other to distill a very large collective list down to one of 10 that they could agree upon. The lesson combined the best of English

language of the place where you are teaching. By doing this, you demonstrate a respect that will inspire reciprocal respect. Not only does this show a commitment to anti-elitism and anti-racism, it can be an incredible motivator for your students. You also provide yourself with great fodder for your lessons. Following the advice I have laid out in this article

does not exonerate you from the problems and consequences of the global ELT industry, but it will go a long way toward minimizing your impact. There is a critique to be had of every industry or job. All any of us can do is to make what change is possible, from where we stand.

// Jeff Myers is a PhD student in Adult Education and Community Development at the University of Toronto. He has taught English in Korea, Japan and Canada. Jeff has coordinated numerous English teacher training programs and authored several program curricula. His current research examines language and citizenship training for immigrants to Canada.

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