The Very Difficult Search for Reliable Information

I took this photo somewhere in Louisiana–Lafayette, I think. My goal is to find first-hand information rather than relying on the millions of blog and newspaper posts on the web.

Blogs are sometimes neutral, hosting the actual opinions of their creators…but many are not. Sometimes, in order to make it big, a blogger will gain a following, and then start posting ads to her site, and then maybe start doing reviews for businesses, and as a brand ambassador friend of mine says, it’s hard not to give a good review for a business who gave you a free sample and paid you as well. So many travel articles are surface-level penny candy pieces. I can’t write them. I feel nauseous just thinking about all of those jam-packed adjectives and that lackadaisical skim-the-surface Google research. I want to dive deep and get the real intel, meet genuine people and get their stories down in full. I want trustworthy sources.

So, in my seeking of information about teaching abroad, I reached out to a friend who sells TEFL programs. I skimmed hundreds of blogs and TEFL websites and blogs about living in places like Thailand or Mexico as an American. But how come no one seems to talk about what it’s like teaching there? Is it because it’s awful? Is it because the classroom is boring and hot and the pay is crap? I want to know all these things. As a person seeking to teach abroad, I’d like to be prepared.

I seek out books. At the Haverhill Library the librarians helped me search the Merrimack Consortium, and then the Massachusetts catalog, and then the Interlibrary loan catalog, which can get us books throughout the country. But there’s barely anything. A few books put out by the TEFL certification companies, which is basically a listing for places to get certified; glorifies ads in published form. I got a book called Teaching Overseas: The Caribbean and Latin American Area: A Recruitment Handbook. It’s a slim volume with no publication date, but there are dates of school calendars and salary ranges, and they’re all from the 1970s. In 1970, it looks like most of the programs paid $1,500 salary for a year. Today, all I can seem to find on a Google search is that teaching abroad will get me roughly $800 a month, which does amount to 10x the ’70s salary, but still seems a bit low for teaching. Whether I end up teaching abroad or not isn’t important: at this point, I just want to know how to find reliable information in our Internet-doused world.

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