Learning English has made a whole world of difference in my life. I hope to make the same big impact on people’s lives as I teach them English.
Leadership guru Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why says that great leaders inspire everyone to take action when they know their “why”. Today, I’ll share with you why I teach English through a series of snippets from memory lane.
Born into a really poor family, I was granted a scholarship from a Christian foundation from the time I was a grade 2 elementary student until my second year of high school. I had an American sponsor in the U.S. who helped finance my studies during those times.
Back then, we lived a hand-to-mouth existence. My late mother was a housewife, and my late father was a freelance watch technician and jeweler. They fought most of the time because my mom wanted to work to help provide for the family, but my father kept insisting she stay home and take care of us, their children. I was the firstborn among five siblings.
Because there was no internet yet back then in the Philippines, I had to write monthly English letters to my sponsor in the U.S. This process sparked my interest in English, and it was my favorite subject in school since then.
I’d watch English cartoons on the black and white television screens of my relatives or neighbors, whichever was available for viewing. At first, I’d look at the photos in books and magazines owned by relatives, but eventually I started to love reading the articles in them too.
I joined spelling bees, slogan-making competitions, and essay-writing contests and won in most of them. In high school, I became one of the writers of our school paper. In college, I was the editor-in-chief of our first-ever yearbook.
As a scholarship grantee, we were able to acquire low-cost housing in Antipolo. Because I learned to love English that much (and learning in general), we were able to move from our informal housing community to a more decent place in a community with other scholarship grantees.
What does learning English do?
1. Helps one understand the world
My English skills enabled me to make sense of a bigger world outside the confines of our then poorest-of-the poor community. Having been helped by my English teachers at school, I learned to appreciate self-help books that gave me a passion for lifelong learning and personal growth. It has helped me dream bigger dreams (and even achieve some of them).
2. Builds relationships
In 1999, when I started attending church in Victory Quezon City, I had so many insecurities coming from a poor background while attending what other people called a “church of the rich”. Because I was so grateful to God for healing my sister from a serious illness, I volunteered to teach at that church’s Sunday school.
And because the kids there came from affluent families, I had to teach them Bible stories in English. During the time that I was volunteering, someone from that church whom I hadn’t yet met in person suggested that I apply for work in a call center.
Getting hired in that first call center stint started my 12-year journey of self-improvement as I continued sharpening my English skills in the BPO industry while earning money to provide for my family. Having English skills helped me build the right connections that spurred me on to pursue my dream of a better life for myself and my family.
3. Opens doors to many opportunities
After working for more than a decade in the BPO industry, I took another leap of faith to work on an international cruise ship, where I was able to travel to around eight to ten countries. Because I was already confident and competent in my English skills, I was able to build new friendships with people of different nationalities.
Being fluent in English helped me organize and host events for both international guests and crew members. After this stint, I had a series of ESL teaching careers: taught English to high-ranking European professionals, college students, out-of-school-youth, stay-at-home moms, TESDA scholars for NCII Call Center training, and, most recently, Japanese students at Enderun Colleges, one of the most expensive schools in the Philippines. It’s also at Enderun where I met Kristine, the founder of The English Blog.
These are the reasons I teach English. Because so many people have helped me along the way in realizing my dreams in life by having English knowledge and skills, I want to pay it forward by teaching English to others so that they too can achieve their goals.
I teach English to make a positive difference in people’s lives, just like learning English did in mine.