I signed a contract today to be an English teacher for the newest location of Bell International here on the outskirts of Amman. I’ll be doing much the same thing I’ve been doing for AMIDEAST, teaching English to adults, but Bell provides full-time contracts to their teachers, with opportunities for vertical and lateral movement that are much harder to get with AMIDEAST. If I work with Bell long enough, I can move up to be a Senior Teacher or administrator, or could apply for contracts to teach all over the region (or the world!). Bell has facilities in Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia at this time, and may expand into more of the Middle East if I stick around.
I’m also really excited about their professionalism. They screen their students much more carefully to place them in the right classes, and there will be a full week of teacher training before we even start registering and testing students.
I should have more variety in teaching assignments, too. I will start out teaching adult beginners; I was hired in part because my command of Arabic will allow me to do so, whereas the other teachers don’t speak much, if any, Arabic. However, I was also hired for my experience teaching writing, and with young learners, and will be given the opportunity to do both as Bell’s classroom space is finished and they begin expanding their palette of courses.
They may also ask me to teach some basic, taxicab Arabic to foreigners later this spring. I was thinking about this and laughing about teaching foreigners my hick village accent. It won’t be so bad for the men, because village Arabic is a sign of strength, but the women in the city are supposed to speak a far more delicate accent that I’ve never mastered. I was reminded, though, of my experience teaching Arabic to my cousin Gwen; despite my thick Swiss accent, she managed to come out of my lessons speaking a more sophisticated Berliner German, because everyone else she encountered spoke that way.
Not only has Bell re-awakened the excitement about teaching that was nearly killed by the Modern American School, but my financial worries have been solved for at least the 6 months of this contract. This is the most generous pay package I’ve been offered in Jordan, which will allow me to start my student loan payments and pay off my credit card debt without effecting my lifestyle here at all. I should have some money to travel with, as well, and I have hopes to visit friends across the region this spring: my current roommate Megan in her Spring Semester at American University Cairo, Ann who will soon be studying in Ramallah on the West Bank, and Chris who is thrilled to be studying at American University Beirut. (Plus, there’s that Swiss Chics reunion in Switzerland this summer that I’m hoping to squeeze in….)
Best of all, but I got a nice Christmas surprise on my way home from signing the Bell contract yesterday. I stopped off to check the balance of my bank account at the ATM in Safeway, and was quite disturbed to see that I had only about 150 dinar left to tide me over till my first paycheck from Bell in February. Then I remembered that I should have a small paycheck waiting for me at AMIDEAST for proctoring the SATs on the first of December. I was walking over there when they called me to say that there was a check waiting for me, but when I arrived, the SAT checks weren’t ready. What I picked up was the November paycheck I thought I’d already deposited, a nice cushion of 600 dinar to keep me till February. So I won’t be buying extravagant gifts for my friend Chris’s family in Madaba, where I’ve been invited to spend Christmas, but at least I can get them something, and not have to pinch pennies too strenuously!