Editor’s Note: We received permission to interview this teacher, Oscar, at a small rural school during his very short daily break. Teachers in El Salvador teach morning sessions to one group of students followed by afternoon sessions to a totally different group of students. We are appreciative for Oscar’s kindly agreeing to give up his lunch and prep time for us. He is a young man who rides to school on a motorcycle. The students seem very comfortable with him and vice versa.
Were you born and raised in El Salvador?
Yes, I was born in the San Francisco area of San Salvador on November 26, 1983.
What made you choose to become an English teacher?
I find the English language interesting but also difficult. When I teach my students, I include teaching them about American culture. It is a relatively safe country.
Is it safe here in El Salvador?
No, it is dangerous throughout El Salvador.
How long have you been teaching?
I have taught a total of three years, one year elsewhere and two years at this school (at the time of this interview.)
Will you continue teaching here at this school?
I prefer to keep all my options open.
What grades do you teach? And are English classes required courses in the curriculum?
I teach grades 5-9. Yes, English is required.
What is your favorite part of teaching?
I enjoy including the history portion of the subject in my classes. My students in the basic school are interested in it.
What do you dislike about teaching?
Nothing; I like everything. My class sizes range from 15-20, which is very manageable.
How do you keep your students interested in remaining in school when so often families pressure their children to drop out and help earn money to support the family?
I point out that learning English opens many doors to them in jobs. Their future opportunities will be brighter if they learn English well. They may want to travel to English-speaking countries at some point in their lives, for example. Learning English is a way to expand their present world.
Do you plan to remain here in El Salvador or go to the States?
I love teaching here. I have already traveled to the States as an immigrant and found it difficult to live there. As an illegal, it was hard to find a good job. If I had the opportunity to return as a legal, that would open up more opportunities. The other reason I returned to El Salvador was that the medications I personally need to take were much more expensive in the U.S. than they are here in El Salvador.
What is your personal status?
I am married; my wife and I would like to start a family maybe next year.
What do you do for fun?
Ride my motorcycle and play soccer all weekend.
Do you have professional goals?
I paid my own expenses at a private university in San Salvador for my undergraduate degree. I would like to earn my Master’s degree in English and eventually teach at the university level.
What are your work hours Monday through Friday, and what is your salary?
I work 7:30 AM -12:30 PM and then 1:30 PM-4:30 PM.
I earn $200 a month and earn Social Security and a pension.
Editor’s Note: Break time is over and the next group of students is arriving.
Earning $50 per week seems so little by our American standards for a personable and dedicated teacher. Yet I think of the countless storytellers we have interviewed with marketable skills and training who are unable to find any kind of employment at all. Oscar is serving his students well by encouraging them to remain in school while personally aspiring to earn a higher degree and teach at a university. Oscar will achieve his goals, I’m sure.