My Transition from Accounting to Teaching My Favorite Language

One fateful afternoon, my father asked me point-blank, “What would you like to take up in college?”

I sat there pondering his question without any reply. At the tender age of 15, I still didn’t have a clear sense of who I was and what I wanted to be. I managed to come up with an answer though. “I can be a teacher perhaps?”

“NO!” my mother responded with alarm. “Do you want to end up a spinster hag who doesn’t even have time to shine her leather pumps because of all the stress she gets from teaching her students? Besides, teachers get very low pay. You know that.”

Father agreed with Mom.                                                             

“Ok then, I’m going to be a rockstar.” Hell no, I didn’t say that and I was glad I didn’t. No way would I dare tell them about that crazy teen-age dream of mine. Both my folks would have laughed themselves to tears.

“How about becoming a…secretary?” I suggested instead.

“No, no. Secretaries usually end up sitting on their bosses’ lap and become mistresses.” (Hey listen, that was my Mom’s perspective. Not mine. So please don’t hate me)

My Dad finally declared, “You are going to take up Accounting and that’s it. At least, you’ll be assured of a job as an accountant. They’re always in demand anyway.”

That had been the trajectory of my working life ever since, until I gave up the business field for good some eleven years ago. In hindsight, how I wish I could turn back the hands of time and had a different conversation with my parents that fateful afternoon.

my fist job in a leading newspaper publishing firm 20 years ago

I majored in BS Accounting in college but was never happy and did not prosper at all in that field. My scholastic grades were fine but I’m not brilliant with numbers and it was not among my passions. Anything that isn’t natural for me tends to drift away on its own. The debit and credit of a business transaction was easy to grasp but secretly I had wanted more to analyze the debits and credits of specific human conditions. I believe I could have become a good psychologist.

My parents didn’t finish college. Both non-academic and non-readers, they didn’t put much emphasis on the value of real learning. Sure they expected their three children to get good grades, even excel in school. But the true essence of education was never imprinted in our young minds and not considerably felt in our home. There was more weight given on exterior matters like money, looks, possessions and other people’s approval. Reading materials were also non-existent except for a few ho-hum magazines and comics in our domestic language. There was no role model for me to emulate. No inspiration. I wish there was someone who had properly evaluated my real strengths and weaknesses and subsequently led me to more meaningful career lanes.

as an ESL instructor today (photo taken a few days ago)

I’ve got a different day job now (as if I had a night job in the first place :-)). A pioneer teacher in an English academy that commenced some six years ago, I got taken on at an age that was way past the hiring age in our country – which is 35 years old. Right timing I guess. Being an ESL teacher, I get to teach students from other Asian countries who need a crash course in English out of their country’s dire need for some measure of fluency in that language.

Here’s the good part. Whenever I’d be given students who have more than rudimentary English skills, I get to teach TOEFL, Intermediate -> Advanced Grammar, Advanced Vocabulary, English Collocations etc. That’s the time when rousing myself up in the morning gets to be a breeze as I look forward to the day that will have me teaching and learning at the same time. I confess it’s Advanced Grammar that has been the most challenging of all because I myself am still a work in progress in this area. As you might have noticed, I slip in grammar here with uh, discomforting regularity.

More often, I am assigned in speaking classes because these neighboring Asians like the way I speak. Imitating native speakers’ enunciation has been painless for me as I’ve watched western movies, TV news/series all my life. The more effort I exert to accentuate my speech in American style the more impressed they become. The happier we all get as well. You see, I love English so much whether I get to read it, speak it, write it or simply hang around with it.    

So I guess things still worked out fine in the end. My job as an ESL instructor is more pleasurable than the ones I held in the field of business. It’s not that financially augmenting likewise but I get to work with words and for once in my life, I am surrounded by books (Yipee!) and could only wish for ample time and stamina to peruse them all.

My work now also facilitates a more sedate existence as I live by the axiom the simpler my life gets, the happier I become. Simplicity has always been good for my psyche I believe.


6 thoughts on “My Transition from Accounting to Teaching My Favorite Language

  1. Because I live in the United States and have always spoken English as my first language, I’ve never really spent much time thinking about English as a language. I’ve taken it for granted, much as the blue in the sky, and the brown color of the dirt outside my back door. Reading your account of how you teach English to your students, and how you’ve come to love the language … well, it inspires me to want to pay attention to this bucket of words that I’ve always had readily available and at my disposal.

    My guess is that your grasp of grammar is probably more advanced than my own, largely because you have taken the time to study the intricate bits and pieces. On the other hand, my own experience has been one in which I’ve paid attention to what interests me, and have pretty much discarded the rest into a pile of unused knowledge. Now that I’m in the process of writing a book, I look at that pile of unused knowledge and longingly wish that perhaps I had tried a bit harder to absorb more of that free information along the way. Wouldn’t it be ironic if I could learn something about the proper use of grammar from someone who teaches ESL classes? The thought of it tickles my funny bone, and makes me smile.

    When you write, the essence of who you are comes through loud and clear. I would hope you will learn to worry less about grammar, and more about continuing to speak up. It is only if you allowed your voice to be silenced that a tragedy would occur. Grammar is simply a vehicle that helps you travel down the road. Don’t forget that you can’t go anywhere without a driver. Just keep writing. That’s how we grow. That’s how we discover. That’s what helps make this journey one that we can look back on one day, and smile.

    • Your flair for writing is as natural as the blue hue in our sky. It’s so apparent in your every splendid comment which I eagerly anticipate in other bloggers’ sites, not to mention your own excellent blog pieces. Your decision to write a book is waiting to happen as you are a real McCoy in this art.

      English, writing and teaching (in that order I believe) are among my strong cravings 🙂 in life. I share the same guilt with you in discarding a lot of available information then into unused knowledge piles. And now we get this urge to search for and excavate them.

      I’ll be taking your every advice to heart. If there’s any way I can assist you in your book project, all you’ve got to do is inform me.

      As always, I’m honored by your presence here. Thank you so much.

    • I would have wanted to be a psychologist. The workings of the mind interest me greatly. I excelled at all my Law subjects in college, too. Maybe that field could have been appropriate for me. But politics in the Philippines is so dirty. And it takes around eight years to become a lawyer. Yikes.

      • They say it takes about 10,000 hours doing something to become expert at it. At the (rather high, I think) rate of 6 hours per day, 5 days per week (weekend off!) and 50 weeks per year (two weeks vacation), that takes 6 & 2/3 years.

        If you knock that down to just 4 hours a day, now it takes 10 years!

        Rome — and expertise &dmash; not built in a day (or a week (or a month (or even a whole year))).

  2. EDITED (march 2018) My parents didn’t finish college. Both non-academic and non-readers, they had no means to be able to instill the real value of education to their three children. Sure they expected us to get good grades, even excel in our studies, but our young minds failed to grasp the true purpose of acquiring knowledge. In addition, more weight was given to external matters such as money, looks, possessions and other people’s approval. Reading materials at home had been scarce except for a handful of magazines and comics rendered solely in our domestic language. There was no role model for me to emulate. No true guiding light. I wish either my father or mother had evaluated my strengths and weaknesses in my much younger years which could’ve helped direct me to a more appropriate career lane, culminating to my higher form of existence.


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