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[For an audio version of this blog story click here.]

Earn per hour what many Colombians would be doing well to make in a day. Largely be your own boss, decide how often you want to work and, for the most part, dictate the course of affairs.

Little thirst to teach English in these thinking times.

There are worse gigs one could do but teaching English doesn’t set Wrong Way Corrigan’s heart racing.

Outside of some sinecure or getting money for nothing, that job description sounds as cosy as the best of them, doesn’t it?

Didactic doubts
Yet, I have little interest in pursuing it. For some reason, when I get asked if I teach English, I shudder at the prospect.

Even in these financially lean times — in fairness, I haven’t really known any other — when, in theory at least, teaching English can provide a bit of a cash cushion, I tend to shy away from it.

I should be honoured and humbled that people ask me to give classes. And no, it’s not that they’re so utterly desperate that they seek me out. Honestly, it’s not. Well, maybe in the odd instance that’s the case but it’s not the norm.

Of those who’ve used my didactic services, most seem to be satisfied with my method. Just don’t ask me exactly what that method is. It’s case-dependent. Bespoke English classes in a sense. What works for Camila may not work for Camilo, so to put it. One size does not fit all.

Also, the idea that any native English speaker can be a teacher of the language isn’t exactly correct. As I explained before, some qualified teachers in whatever subject area lack the ability to impart knowledge. What’s more, some tutors work well with certain students and not with others.

Most importantly, the person taking lessons has to be prepared to do some grafting. As it is for honing any skill, becoming competent in another language requires dedication. If this is lacking, the task becomes next to impossible.

‘Maintaining a rather minimalist lifestyle — would I have it any other way? — and being able to charge a decent hourly rate in a Colombian peso context for various jobs means I can have more “me time” than the average worker.’

While this mild defence of my didacticity may appear to be at odds with my overall disinterest to teach English regularly — for I still do it occasionally — there are certain types of “clients” and situations that I don’t mind as much as others.

The ideal scenario is a face-to-face class within a 30-minute walk from my base, with a student who contacted me for my services — I don’t feel comfortable advertising as a teacher, per se — and one who already has a fairly decent level i.e. can hold a conversation, read newspaper articles and suchlike without too much difficulty. I generally dislike the idea of online classes but I can do them at a push.

With a high(ish)-level speaker, classes are often more like a chat or a podcast interview — the odd correction excepted. In fact, I often think such types don’t really need classes, but hey, if they want to pay me for them, fine.

A few pesos for my thoughts?
Having said that, if I never gave an English class again in my life, I wouldn’t lament the loss.

I would, though, be somewhat saddened if I were to be denied access to publish my musings. Monetarily speaking, this makes little-to-no sense. My blogging is a gratuitous gig with a minuscule reach. (Although, if this reach were to expand exponentially, Google AdSense might actually start to pay dividends. It’s the hope that kills ya!)

Yet, we don’t really get to choose what ignites our passions and more often than not pursuits that we enjoy aren’t financially rewarding.

So that I have to occasionally do certain tasks that I find tedious to keep in the black is far from revelatory (even the “super extra” roles are now often more in this tedious bracket than stimulating, for various reasons).

And occasionally is key here. Maintaining a rather minimalist lifestyle — would I have it any other way? — and being able to charge a decent hourly rate in a Colombian peso context for various jobs means I am able to have more “me time” than the average worker.

That, however, might be a problem in itself: too much time to ponder on life, on what’s happening and, more pertinently, what isn’t happening. The busier one is, the less time there is to ruminate.

If only during these frequent downtimes I got a peso, or better yet a penny, for each of my thoughts. Rather than being dead, philosophy may be about to have a golden age. I’m positioning myself accordingly, just in case.
Listen to The Corrigan Cast podcast here.

Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan — The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz“.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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