ERIC Number: EJ1075826
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
First Person Singular: Building the Road as We Travel
Long, Michael H.
Language Teaching, v48 n4 p561-574 Oct 2015
After completing a law degree at the University of Birmingham when I was 20 and not really knowing what I wanted to do, except that it was not law, I became an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher accidentally through signing up as a volunteer with the British United Nations Association (BUNA), roughly equivalent to the US Peace Corps. Instead of being dispatched to assist starving people through a remote third-world community development project, as I had naively expected, I was sent on a fast-paced, two-week English as a second language (ESL) teacher-training course at a well-known private language school, International House, on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of London's West End. Then came a one-week BUNA "orientation" course in the suburbs. A hundred-plus neophyte volunteers were lectured on how to deliver a baby, how to deal with snake bites, how to remove leeches using gasoline or matches (but not both), the importance of taking anti-malaria pills daily without fail (pills subsequently found to be 100% ineffective), and how to avoid schistosomiasis (snail fever). On the last day, I was informed that, contrary to what I had first been told, I would not after all be going to Afghanistan, but to Peru. A week later, I arrived in Lima, a bustling Latin-American metropolis with no shortage of mid-wives, no malaria, no snakes, no snails and not a leech in sight. In the face of pervasive poverty, corruption, violence, and illiteracy, I had been sent several thousand miles, with absolutely no understanding of how people learn languages and minimal understanding of how to teach them, to provide free English classes for the relatively wealthy, mostly middle-class faculty and students in the Faculty of Law of Peru's leading university, the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos.
Descriptors: English (Second Language), Second Language Instruction, Second Language Learning, Language Teachers, Community Development, Teacher Education, Volunteers, Poverty, Violence, Illiteracy, Foreign Countries, College Students, Personal Narratives
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Peru