Teachers in Turkey, No. 7 - “Why Do What We Do?” by Angela Collins

After hosting six teachers so far we have something of a first in the Teachers in Turkey series as this teacher, Angela Collins is the first contributor who is NOT based in Istanbul. Instead, she works in the same city as me, Ankara. However, in that funny way the world works, while I have met four of my six guests from Istanbul in person, I have only ever interacted with Angela virtually.
In the post, she tells us why she works as an ‘international teacher’ and how that is distinct from being an ‘English teacher’.
I’m sitting in the London-Heathrow Airport in transit on my way back “home” and I wonder why I am doing this? I don’t have a husband to follow on a job somewhere. I don’t get paid a ton of money to do what I do (in fact, I often pay for my holiday flights out of my own pocket). I don’t get looked at as a high member of society. So why do I choose to go to a different country to do my job?

Perhaps I should have started by saying that my name is Angela Collins and I’m an international educator (sounds a little like alcoholics anonymous though, doesn’t it?). What that means is that I am a teacher who chooses to do her (or his, there are men who do this job too… rare breeds but they do exist) teaching in another country. I don’t choose to do it because I hate my own country (on the contrary, I am a fiercely proud Canadian). I choose to do it because I get to put the two things I LOVE to do together: travel and teach. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of teaching in several countries (including my own): South Korea, Oman, U.S.A. and now I am working and living in Turkey.

Now, I know what most of you are thinking. And the only reason I know this is because it’s what people always say to me when I tell them that I am an international teacher: “Oh, so you teach English….” Nope. I do teach IN English, but I am a fully certified, professional teacher who is capable of (and has) taught Kindergarten through to grade 12. I am currently teaching grade one in an international school that works of a very cool and unique bilingual system. I know some of my TESL and TEFL (those English teachers) might be irritated at my distinction from what they do, but I like to be recognized for what it is that I actually do. And I like them to be recognized for what it is that they do - which I did for one year and realized that I didn’t have the chops for… if you are a true professional in that position, it is VERY taxing on your time and brain, I have mad respect for TESL and TEFL teachers.

Paris 070
Angela Collins lives and works full time in Ankara, Turkey as a grade one teacher at Bilkent Laboratory and International School. She is now in her fourteenth year of full time teaching and has taught just about every age (Pre-K to Grade 12) and a myriad of subjects (PE, Art, English, Science and regular classroom instruction). She comes from an international background herself and seeks to continually grow personally and professionally through her international teaching experiences.


  1. I love how Ang has taken her passion for teaching and travel and made both work for her! Good on ya Angela!

  2. Where are you from, Angela?

  3. I'm from a little town just outside Vancouver, BC... it's called Gibsons. :)

  4. Thanks for this post Angela.

    There is one issue that you touch upon that is a major one for the world of TEFL - the assumption that any native speaker can teach the language. As you point out being a teacher requires different skills depending on the subject and it's always worth remembering that these skills make a great teacher, not nationailty or first languages.


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