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Why I became an English teacher 🤔
Derek Cowan
Derek Cowan
May 13, 2021
3 min
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Why I became an English teacher 🤔

Short answer - Smiles, happiness and sharing my knowledge with others!

This is a question people ask me

When I left home 6 years ago, I never could have imagined…  or dreamed of being a teacher it was honestly something I never considered. I wanted to be a paramedic or businessman when I was younger! Quite the contrast, I know.

Looking back, I’m glad I chose the path I did. It has given me a wealth of knowledge that I can now share with my students. Having real-life experiences in various areas provides my students with something rather different from a traditional teacher.

Travel opened my eyes to a new world

At the age of 33, I started to travel and volunteer for various organisations in Asia. Being able to help others was incredible. I mainly used my marketing skills and business knowledge to help these organisations by either attracting more volunteers or improving their operations.

My first class

It was unexpected and a bit of a shock. Mainly due to the fact I believed I was there to help with marketing. Anyway, I couldn’t say no. It was a church that helped local orphans.

Derek's first class

Truth is I had no clue what I was doing, luckily I followed the lead of one of the volunteers who had been teaching for a while. I’m pretty sure he was from Russia or Ukraine, it was a while ago now so can’t remember exactly! I’m more of a visual person and can remember vividly the classroom. It was kinda old in need of a lick of paint and some TLC with kids around 7-8 years old.

We taught body parts, when I say we I mean the other guy. I just stood there assisting and helping with speaking. I do remember laughing out loud. I was asking students to repeat after me the body parts as I said them and pointed to the blackboard. This one girl was repeating after me the body parts. Arm arm, hand hand, leg leg etc… she was to my surprise quite good. Then as I said “head” she repeated head in the clearest Scottish accent I’ve heard 😂

I’ve since lost my accent, I think with the travel and needing to be clear for my students, I have more or less lost my Scottish accent. People can tell I’m from the UK but can’t place me. That’s good for me as I can be understood by most people with ears.

Nepal earthquake

The country was devastated by 2 huge earthquakes in a matter of a few weeks back in 2015. Countless lives and homes were lost which left an already struggling country to suffer even more. Truly shocking.

I made the life-changing decision to travel to Nepal and help, I didn’t know exactly what I’d do, I just knew if I got there I would help in the best possible way.

After around a week of being in Kathmandu (Nepal’s capital) I met a young man that was seeking help for his village. After dinner and a chat I decided to jump on the roof of a bus (yes the roof) and head towards his village. located in the Himalayas. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived, but remaining positive I eagerly anticipated the challenge that lay ahead.

Without going into too much detail. I ended up building homes and helping with the local school which was a 15 min hike up the mountain from the village.

nepal classroom after earthquake

I became friends with the principal, a great guy that could speak some English. He invited me to the school and introduced me to the students and some teachers. The school was in ruins, with makeshift classrooms made from scrap wood and plastic sheeting to keep out the elements.

The most incredible thing

Although the school was in tatters the children were super happy and excited to see a new face. The desire to learn English was clear and I did my best to help them. As I was busy building homes and running a fairly large I didn’t have many opportunities to teach. However, I brought volunteers from around the world to help out at the school.

THIS my friends is why I became a teacher!

Now - May 2021

A few years later from when I began and I’m still loving life as a teacher and mainly focus on helping students online via Zoom, Skype or teaching websites.

I hope you find this website useful and if you have any questions or feedback, I’d love it if you could comment below or connect with me on social media.


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Derek Cowan

Derek Cowan

English Teacher

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