By Musa Folami
My dream has always been to teach English abroad, especially in countries of the Middle East (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and UAE) where teachers are well remunerated. But as a non-native speaker of English, with native-like proficiency, I reckoned that I needed to have the necessary qualifications to stand a chance. I decided to travel to the United States for my TESOL certification; it was a huge investment, considering that I am from Nigeria with unstable exchange rate of Naira to dollar. I emptied my bank account and got additional loan support from family members. I was optimistic that the training would stand me in good stead and give me a special impetus in fulfilling my ambition.
I enrolled with International TEFL/TESOL Training Institute (ITTI) in March 2014 at the New York training centre in Manhattan. The experience was ineffable; the training was challenging but exciting. At the end of my training in April 2014, I returned home to Nigeria after exploring the pulchritudinous nature of New York City; I actually sojourned in Queens with my Nigerian host. I decided to quit my teaching job in Nigeria in September 2014; I wanted something better for myself and my family, doing what I enjoy doing. Remaining on the job won’t avail me the opportunity to get what I needed.
The first offer I got came from Tajikistan but I outright turned it down; the pay wasn’t different from my last job. This was followed by an IELT examiner offer from the British Council in Lagos, Nigeria; while it’s an attractive proposition, it won’t fulfill my primary and sole aim of junketing to the United States: ‘I want to teach abroad’. I kept applying despite rejections from many employers from the Middle East, simply because I am not a native speaker of English. I remained undaunted, committed and resolute. I was optimistic my chance would come.
Lo and behold! The chance indeed came in manifold; I started getting positive responses from universities, colleges and high schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain. I was interviewed by an avalanche of institutions; some even went further requesting my teaching video demos. In fact, one particular school came to Nigeria from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and invited me for a one-on-one interview, after having been satisfied with my Skype interview and teaching demo. But then, I had already accepted an offer from a Dutch company to teach in one of its colleges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was a fantastic offer for a non-native speaker. The company paid and processed my visa, flight tickets. Wow!!!! My dream eventually became reality.
I taught in a college furnished with modern, state-of-the-art or cutting-edge teaching equipment. The students are young Saudis; they are prospective technicians that are being trained to work for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco. While in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I was contacted by a university in Oman, one of the several institutions that interviewed me in January 2015 before I travelled to Saudi Arabia. I was extremely elated with the offer, especially the idea of teaching in a university.
The rest, they say, is history. I am presently in Oman with my family, living in a furnished apartment, at the expense of the university.
Remember, what gives my CV a proper recognition is the TESOL certification I did in 2014. As a non-native speaker, I have had good offers within two years of my training. Opportunities abound for non-natives with the necessary qualifications to teach abroad and earn fantastic remunerations.