The Pros & Cons of Teaching English in the Middle East

By Adam Lucente

There are many, many reasons to teach English in the Middle East. You can learn Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Kurdish or other languages here. You can gain valuable insights to an oft-misunderstood yet crucial part of the world. You can have adventures that resemble the movies. However, each country in the region offers very different experiences for English teachers. The following are some of the pros and cons I’ve determined from my time living, working, and teaching in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.

How I Found Myself Teaching English in Iraq

By: Adam Lucente

I called up a spokesman at City University of New York (CUNY) for the I-don’t-know-how-many-time that day. I was a reporter at an online and print news outlet in Brooklyn covering the borough’s southern neighborhoods. Two years prior, I was with Kurdish soldiers advancing towards ISIS’ territory in Iraq. Writing about board meetings, sea walls, and zoning violations was equally important work, but it wasn’t what interested me.

How I Transitioned from Teaching English in the Middle East to Becoming a Journalist

By: Adam Lucente

Simon and I got into the shared taxi from the Tunisian capital Tunis to Sidi Bouzid in the south early in the morning. The taxi, which was a nine or so seat van, didn’t run on a schedule. When it was full, it went. Then the next one went when it, too, was full. Simon was a freelance journalist in Tunisia, but he also taught English to help make ends meet. It’s common for journalists in the Middle East to have a second job. Some are teachers; others copy writers, translators etc. I knew Simon because we taught together at an American non-profit in Tunis in 2014. I learned Arabic in college, and he brought me to Sidi Bouzid to interpret for him for an article he was writing on the legacy of the Tunisian revolution.

Tips for Finding Work as an ESL Teacher in the Middle East - Tunisia, Jordan, Iraq + More

By: Adam Lucente

As I understand it, it’s a fairly straight-forward process to find teaching work in Asia. I wouldn’t know. I’ve only taught in the Middle East and North Africa, specifically Tunisia, Jordan and Iraq. I also participated in informal language exchanges in Lebanon that had an English-teaching component. Finding teaching work in the Gulf, where there are tons of jobs, is fairly simple, although the hiring standards can be quite high. It’s easier for new teachers to get jobs in places like Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, but there’s not a ton of information about teaching in the region online. In this article, I’ll explain how I found my teaching jobs in Tunisia, Jordan and Iraq, and offer some advice for other countries, too.

How Teaching English Helped Correct Misconceptions I Had About the Middle East

By: Adam Lucente

I met Samir at an English-language primary school we taught at in Amman, Jordan. He first caught my attention when he walked into the break room where I was sitting with an American colleague and said, “Hello, American people.” Samir and I got along well, and one day we made plans to meet up after work. He wanted to go to a cafe that had banana and milk cocktails – his favorite drink.

Making Local vs. Expat Friends in the Middle East

By: Adam Lucente

I met Yusuf and Mahmoud (names have been changed for privacy reasons) on the main drag of Mar Mikhael – one of the centers of Beirut’s famous nightlife scene. But instead of going to a bar, we went to a small cafe tucked away in an alley that Mahmoud knew and swore by.

Rocking Out With Refugees in Jordan

By: Adam Lucente

The glaring sunlight beaming into my window woke me up at around 9:30 AM. “Ugh, classes begin at 10:00,” I thought to myself that Friday morning. This is not an ideal time for a twenty-something ex-patriot living in Amman, Jordan. Like many predominantly Muslim countries, Jordan has a Friday and Saturday weekend, so Thursday night is a night to go out. However, I had agreed to teach a series of guitar classes lasting three hours every Friday morning for the next three months until I flew home to New York.