Teach English in Azerbaijan – the following comments are from English teachers who have taught, or currently teach English in Azerbaijan.
I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer and must state a disclaimer that my opinion does not represent all volunteers, the US Gov, Peace Corps, or the people of Azerbaijan. However, I would like to personally state that teaching English in Azerbaijan requires a lot of patience.
This culture is adjusting to some of the most difficult changes a country can experience. When you keep in mind that Azerbaijan has only been a country since 1991, it is difficult for most people to realize all of the change that encompasses. Not only is the country changing currency, but it is also changing its language back to Azeri from Russian. This means that with the change from a former soviet country, they want progress as well but are unsure how to actually develop as a nation.
Many of the youth are motivated to learn English (especially the college age youth) and don’t know how to do it. The education system does not support the type of style that we are familiar and comfortable with using and teaching. You must therefore be patient, and give it time.
If you want to teach English in Azerbaijan, I would recommend leaving Baku. Baku doesn’t need your help; the rayon’s need your help. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of small town village life, consider Ganja as an alternative since it was the former capital and has many of the same amenities that the capital can offer you. But know this; Azerbaijan is not like most of Eastern Asia or Eastern Europe. It is still going through a lot of change… just be patient and stick with it. Focus on developing relationships before you focus on teaching English, that is how you will be successful here.
I worked in Baku and lasted 6 months. The students were great but generally people were not very friendly. At time of writing (2008) the country is going through a lot of changes and is still emerging from being a Soviet state. The infrastructure that was developed in the Soviet period is crumbling – badly! The place is very very dusty and dirty. Men and women lead very separate lives – women (unless they are ‘bad’) don’t go into bars. English is not widely spoken – despite the presence of numerous foreign oil companies. There is plenty of work for teachers! There are shops but clothes, food and rent all cost a lot – inflation is running at over 16%. As a female teacher I’ll notch this country up as an interesting but not to be repeated experience.
I’m at the point now where I hate leaving the apartment. Men gawk without shame even when I’m walking with my husband. I found the people to have very little respect for anyone. They do not honor agreements and are expert at placing blame on you in order to cover their own caboose– for example..
Me: Why didn’t you tell me the class had been cancelled?
Office: Why didn’t you ask about it?
Me: Because it is a weekly class and I assumed if the student called out, you would have let me know.
Office: We told you when you started that classes can be cancelled! It is not my fault!
Me: So… you’re not planning on EVER letting me know if a student isn’t going to show up?
Office worker simply turns her back on me and ignores me completely.
If you are a woman who smokes, just do not come here at all. People truly think you are a prostitute and if you have a husband, you’re not faithful, and if you’re a mother, you’re a danger to the welfare of your kids.
If you rent an apartment, your landlord will not respect your privacy or understand that because you are renting it that they no longer have a right to “pop in” whenever they want, My last landlord broke in, confronting me while I was in my underwear because she felt I had the heat (which I pay for) turned up too high for her liking. My new landlord will be coming tomorrow with her husband to “make sure there are no damages”.I have been in this apartment for 1 month.
I have been told what Americans do: Apparently, we all kick our children out as soon as they turn 18, hate our parents and have no morals. When you try to correct them, they just won’t believe you, which tells you how much they actually think of you as a person.
I’m Muslim, as is my husband, who is also Turkish. We DO understand what these people are saying about us right in front of our faces. I think maybe teachers who are more oblivious would have a better time here… but I doubt it. I have also been told I’m not a “real” Muslim anyway…
The absolute ONLY upside to living here is that yes, you can save money, and everything is affordable. The students halfway give a crap, which is more than I could say about Turkey. I’m paid salary, so if they screw up and don’t come to class, it’s not cutting into my finances. Most teachers I’ve met here are planning their escape, however. Taxes are low and the weather is WINDY as crap but warm, and the food is healthy. It’s just a tragedy the people are so racist/self-absorbed/sexist, etc.