One of my favorite tropes in TV is the non-American Janitor or line cook talking about how back in their country they were a doctor, a lawyer or some other thing that our society deems special. It’s my favorite because of how true it is. During my time as an adult ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Chicago, I have been truly blown away by the lives my students used to live before they came to the States.
In this picture (above) I had the pleasure of having lunch with my Thai students and while they are young (all younger than me) I found out that two of them were lawyers and the other, an engineer. In this country, however they have all been some kind of line cook for restaurants due to how hard it is to get a work visa in the states.
The woman in this picture is a Venezuelan doctor teaching the class CPR. Ironic because she was in my “Medical English” class where I am supposed to teach the class about Medical things and English. Luckily I had a doctor to teach specific medical actions you need a professional license to teach life saving measures.
My most recent students in this group were bankers, teachers, students, HR managers, sales reps and more in their countries of origin. I felt so lucky to have them as my students.
The moral of the story is, no who you are talking to, never assume that just because they do not speak English they are not as well-off or as as you are. I teach English to adults while in Chicago.I teach English to students when abroad.I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the majority of my students in the United States were probably smarter than me and it was just my privilege to teach them some advanced English.