Through the public and private sectors it seems teaching English as a second language (ESL) attracts three main types of people, the dedicated, the travellers and the weirdos.
While it is possible that I have been unfortunate to have encountered so many of the latter I feel it is representative of the industry through my experience sharing sessions with other ESL teachers.
Without naming names, countries or schools here is a sample of some of the teachers I have met or worked alongside:
S*****: This woman claimed to have a masters degree in politics (a personal interest of mine) after a casual chat she couldn’t understand and/or define first year bachelors vocabulary. On another occasion she asked how you hail a cab and seemed genuinely baffled that you held your arm out and simple waved one down. Worth a mention, didn’t understand any British-American English equivalents such as biscuits and cookies, pants and trousers etc. Also, she claimed to have worked in Germany for several years but didn’t know what a currywurst was!
J*****: I was lucky to have only met this man and not work with him, in one of our brief meetings he couldn’t retain concentration on a very short conversation that he initiated. He also seemed fascinated with a bag he noticed on the floor in the language school, it’s difficult to explain but it was similar to how a someone with the IQ of a child might behave.
P****: A man in his sixties trying to marry a girl in her early twenties, not sure that constitutes being a weirdo but it’s in.
H****: Less of a weirdo and more of just a rather unpleasant woman, exhibiting all the classic signs of burnout, everybody is to blame except her.
O****: Not a native English speaker and not really a weirdo either but a malicious person who seems to take it upon himself to find out what other students think of their teacher in front of that teacher but using the local language to do so. Making out that students don’t understand their teacher then goes round telling their colleagues this one-by-one (presumably to discredit that teacher). Despite this, he is your ‘best-friend’ to your face.
You may think I am being overly harsh on these people but I must remind you that this in no way really shows you with clarity how border-line retarded some of these people are and how their response time to questions puts them on a par with goldfish!
This so far hasn’t answered the question about why teaching ESL attracts so many weirdos.
There could be many factors for this but in my opinion the following are the main contributors:
Low (or non-existent) prerequisites to becoming an ESL teacher.
Demand for teachers is greater than the supply.
Sex, poorer countries, easier to find a play-mate.