Here’s a tongue-in-cheek checklist for anyone working abroad as an English language assistant – how many of these can you relate to?
1) You’re expected to know everything about the English language and the culture of every English-speaking nation of the world
“Why is necessary spelt like that?” (That’s a question I want to know the answer to, too)
“When did Queen Victoria die? The exact date?” (Let me introduce you to a glorious website called Wikipedia)
“Where is the best place to visit in Nova Scotia?” (…)
2) You feel like a celebrity when you’re spotted outside of school
It always happens in the most awkward of situations. Picture the scene: your card gets declined at the supermarket and as you’re cobbling together coins to pay, you hear an accented “Hello!” behind you. You shove your industrial-size bars of Milka into your bags, hoping your gluttony went unnoticed; alas! you’re bid farewell with a cheery “Enjoy all your chocolate!”
3) Going into the staff room is a novelty that soon wears off
During your not-too-distant schooldays, it seemed that what lay beyond the staff room door was a mystery to which only the teachers knew the answer. Personally, I imagined a Narnia-like kingdom, but in reality it boasts nothing as magical as Turkish delight or a talking lion. Instead, think skyscraping filing cabinets, enough coffee to fill a swimming pool and lots and lots of papers to be marked.
4) The contents of your suitcase would bamboozle airport security staff
When your bag contains everything from Christmas crackers to deflated beach balls, you dread to think of the strange looks you’d receive should you have to open it.
5) You’ve become immune to English swear words
At least two students in the class of 13-year-olds have f*ck emblazoned on their tops. While they natter away in the local dialect, you can be confident that you know at least one word per sentence: usually some variant of the F-word.