Before moving to Ankara, I was a Philadelphia lawyer. While the definition of “Philadelphia lawyer” is sometime good and sometimes bad, I prefer Wikipedia’s definition, “Philadelphia Lawyer is a term to describe a lawyer who knows the most detailed and minute points of law or is an exceptionally competent lawyer.” I can’t claim that this definition was always true in my case, but I certainly did try! At any rate, I am actually proud that it is a term that makes the dictionary – not just a lawyer, but a Philadelphia lawyer!
Knowing I would be living in Turkey presented problems. A foreign lawyer is forbidden to practice law in the country. Although, they are permitted to act as a consultant. In addition, I don’t know Turkish law, I don’t speak Turkish fluently, and I don’t know the legal Turkish-ese.
After doing some research, I decided my best bet was to become and English instructor. To be qualified to teach English in most Turkish schools, one only needs a College degree and a teaching certificate. (TEFL – teaching English as a foreign language. TESOL – teaching English to speakers of other languages.) There are lots of courses online. I chose to do a live course through Oxford Seminars which was held on weekends at Villanova University outside of Philadelphia.
The course was great. Although they were long days and took up both my entire weekends for several weeks, the campus was beautiful and the other students in my class were amazing people. The students ranged from younger new college graduates, to those who were already teachers, to those who had an interest in travel, to those who had already taught English in other countries. It was quite a mixed group and everyone had lots to offer!
Off to a slow start in Turkey, I couldn’t find the right job. Learning English is a big deal in Turkey, so in the capital of Ankara, there are a ton of schools. The issue with teaching here for me was that most of the language schools required evenings and weekends. This was just not something I was willing to do. I was still a “newlywed” in my mind and nights and weekends was a burden for me.
So off I went applying to private schools. Many schools here have native English speaking instructors. But these jobs are more difficult to get. Kindergarten jobs are rather easier to find, but difficult to do. So I searched the grade schools and high schools. Most wanted solid teaching experience. So I set out to get experience.
Over the months I have been tutoring, volunteering for conversation classes, and proofreading and editing at university level and for professors. I even assisted in editing the English translations used in a Turkish language course book for students foreign to Turkey.
Most recently, I got my game on with the private tutoring. Kids are literally, and I mean that literally, lining up outside of my door. So far, so good. Scheduling is becoming difficult because the schools are not out for the summer yet. But I seem to have a knack for this teaching thing.
On top of the tutoring, I have been designing and teaching a legal English course for legal assistants. That is actually a lot of fun! But it is more time-consuming than I expected. I knew it would take time, but sometimes my creativity can get in the way. Apparently, I don’t mind spending hours creating presentations when I could simply provide handouts and be done with it.
And now that I am busy — I have job offers. The first is a short summer reading program at one of the English schools – not nights and weekends. The pay is good. They provide all materials. And it could lead to more work with them, including legal English courses. The second is from a very large private school. I don’t know exactly what they provide, but the pay and perks are pretty good. And of course, there is more job security.
So I have decisions to make and hopefully some time to think about it. For now, I’m busy. Busy teaching. Busy keeping house. Busy volunteering with the dog shelter. Busy thinking about vacation . . .