Within two years after I returned to Canada from my tramp around the world, I had itchy feet. A summer trip to the arctic wasn't going to cut it, but I also knew I would have to figure out a way to fund my on-the-road ambitions, and so I decided to get certified as an English as a Foreign Language instructor. I looked around and, taking into consideration tuition and living expenses and my level of interest in the country, settled upon Lisbon as the place were I would take my courses and do my practicum. Following the class, I tooled around the country a bit.
Portugal had just recently joined the European Union when I arrived in Lisbon, and it was kind of depressing to see how the switch affected the standard of living for many of the country's poor. Goods and services skyrocketed as part of the trade pact not to undercut European prices. From what I understand in retrospect, this state of affairs represented a 'normal' period of adjustment, and the economy in Portugal has stabilized since; but, as Poland is now finding: when the cost of goods shoot up, and professionals and trades people abandon camp for higher wages in other nations, the newly inducted European country is in for a long period of painful adjustment.
So, I was in Portugal at an inauspicious time, and taught English as a Foreign language just long enough to decide that I really didn't like teaching basic English grammar to adults, who seemed to have much more interesting things to talk about than a limited shared vocabulary and a once a week setting would allow.
I admire all the people I meet who have been teaching ESL or EFL for years, and I enjoy teaching such classes every now and then, but it looked like this kind of thing wasn't going to be a "career fit" for me...
(Pictures and some thoughts on teaching ESL, getting certified and finding teaching jobs, to come.)