While in Lhasa, my Tibetan guide Gaden asked if I would mind going to a local English-language school where his friend teaches some classes. He told me that it would be great for the kids to be able to have conversation with a native (American) English speaker. SURE!!! I'd LOVE to do it!
Our driver dropped us off in front of the school, which has several multiple-floor buildings. While walking through the courtyard we could hear people yelling "hello" and other greetings out the windows. What? Huh? What's going on? I started to get a little nervous at that point but I still answered each and every greeting with one of my own.
The classroom that I was led to was on the second floor and there were eight students, four guys and four girls, who all looked to be in their late teens. Here's my first English class:
We spent about an hour or so having "question-and-answer" time as well as "conversation" time. They asked me for my feelings about the U.S., Spain, and Tibet and about some of my travels. I was asked to give my opinions on how people from the U.S. are similar and different from people in Tibet. Some of their questions were pretty deep like when one student wanted to know if people in the U.S. believe in karma.
They also asked me for advice on how to learn English. I told them about my experience learning Spanish and that the "trick" for me was to just let go, not to worry about if it's right or not, and just talk. Over time, you'll improve by listening to people correcting you. You'll have to ask my Spanish-speaking friends if my method has been effective...
I had the chance to ask them a bunch of questions too. I asked each student what their goals were and what they wanted to do once they've finished school. Interestingly enough, the top two answers were to be an English teacher and to be a tour guide. I actually like both of those answers and will consider them as career options too. :-)
After "class" we left the building and hung out in the courtyard for a while. A bunch of students came up and were talking with me. It was a lot of fun for me and I hope valuable for them.
What a great experience. Over the past year I've thought about different career options including teaching English somewhere in the (non-English speaking) world. I'm currently looking into a couple of different options and, after this, I think teaching English might be fun and rewarding. I guess we'll see where the wheel stops spinning.