Seven years ago my wife and I got married and moved to Jordan, stayed there for a few years and now currently living in Turkey. We love bringing a sense of understanding and appreciation between Christians and Muslims/Middle Easterners and Westerners.

EDIT: I have to put my son to bed and get something to eat I will be back later. Leave your questions I will get back to them. Edit: Alright, I'm back if anyone cares.

EDIT: Alright, Im going to go to bed now. This has been fun. Thanks for all the great questions

Comments: 655 • Responses: 67  • Date: 

siberiandilemma268 karma

A 'since' of understanding?

English teacher, eh?

mcbranch119 karma

Ha! classic!

OprahsIronFist198 karma

I'm not going to lie I got excited when I first saw you were teaching in middle earth. I then realized I am an idiot, but none the less, nice work.

mcbranch104 karma

Not going to lie, I would like it much better if I was teaching in Middle Earth. You're not an idiot, just really optimistic

cteavin88 karma

I've been doing the same thing for over a decade in Japan. Japanese just can not learn the language. How about over there? And what's the hardest thing to teach?

mcbranch131 karma

I learned a conversational amount of Arabic, and currently learning Turkish. Both have been a pain in the butt because they are not anywhere grammatically close to one another or English. The hardest thing to teach is irregular verbs. I always feel bad for my students because there is no rhyme or reason and its just something you have to memorize

cteavin64 karma

So they can hold a decent conversation?

Over here, people get so hung up on structure and fear of making a mistake that they don't take a chance. The flip side are those who see a foreign person and think it's our duty to let them practice their English. I'm fluent in Japanese, so I give them an earful. (lol)

How are you students, and the population in general, about conversing in English?

mcbranch78 karma

From what I've observed Arabs tend to be way more boisterous and outgoing than Turks, so they loved to practice English and really weren't afraid of making mistakes. Turks, IMO, seem to be much more shy when it comes to practicing their English, so in turn, it seems to take them a bit longer to become conversational.

mcbranch31 karma

Also, at least where I live, there are a ton of German tourist so I think they have much more opportunity to speak and hear German than English. Maybe if I was in a different section of Turkey I would have a different opinion

colaturka26 karma

Where are you staying in Turkey? It might be the case in villages rather than big cities, but as a Turk I can say 99% of the Turkish have very poor English skills. Edit: Unless you go to an expensive school or college that is.

mcbranch18 karma

I live near Antalya. I will agree with you about the English in schools. I have sat in on a few classes and it was horrible to see what the teachers were doing to my language. I haven't spent much time in the cities, but I thought maybe in places like Izmir, Istanbul or possibly Ankara there would be more English spoken since they are more cosmopolitan.

Nellanaesp29 karma

When I was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq from 2010-2011 I worked with the Iraqi Air Force College, and almost every Iraqi enjoyed talking to me. There were several that spoke very little English, and a few that spoke English fluently, but they all loved to practice and ask how to say things. I had an amazing time over there.

mcbranch25 karma

That's awesome. I always really enjoyed the Iraqis I met although it was always a moment of awkwardness when we found out each others nationality.

NO3SCAPE84 karma

How great are their kebabs?

mcbranch106 karma

I love me some Adana kebabs

iwsfutcmd8 karma

Iskander, man, Iskander.

mcbranch6 karma


Dr_Turkey45 karma

I don't have a question for you (not yet at least) however I do have a request as somebody from a Muslim/Arab family:

Would you kindly inform your students that God can still hear them if they curse in English instead of Arabic, and that having a conversation in Arabic with English curse words randomly interjected is causing them to get all sorts of weird looks? It would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: OK since I seem to have struck a nerve with some people, I'm talking about the Muslims who think that cursing is wrong but it's some how ok if it's in English. Yes these people exist and yes I had to use the word God because that's the reason they don't curse. I personally have no problem with cursing, I do it all the time, I just hate talking to somebody in Arabic and having people look at us weird because the only parts of the conversation they understand are "fuck" and "shit".

mcbranch115 karma

Ha! I will tell them. I will say that "fuck you" was the most known English phrase I heard in Jordan. So many kids would come up to me and say "Hello, welcome to Jordan, fuck you!"

jecrois39 karma

What sort of positions are available in Turkey these days, do you need a lot of experience?

mcbranch59 karma

If you go to Istanbul, Ankara, or from what I hear Eski┼čehir there are a ton of available spots. Most reputable places want a Bachelors and/or TESOl cert. but many of the smaller centers will hire anyone who speaks English natively

Abbalyst37 karma

you said that the average income of those in Turkey is 10,000 USD, now I know what is not a lot compared to the average in the US, so are their prices different, or are there many people living in poverty there?

mcbranch84 karma

The cost of living is way cheaper. We live in a middle class apartment and pay about 350 USD a month. Fresh fruits and veggies are dirt cheap. Right now its strawberry season and we are paying 2 USD for a kilo of strawberrys

bolyai22 karma

Tell them about the gas prices in Turkey too.. :))

Edit for the impatient: It's 3 times that of US.

mcbranch10 karma

Its around $12 a gallon here. I walk a lot.

OhneDichIstAllesDoof34 karma

My boyfriend lives outside of Amman. I met him here in the states, but he wants me to come visit him. Is it generally pretty safe for American females to travel there?

Also what are some characteristics of Jordanian humor? (Example... The Brits and Americans have dry, sarcastic humor, etc)

mcbranch76 karma

Super safe. My wife says she felt safer walking around Amman then she did walking around Denver (were we lived in the States)

Jordanians love them some slapstick. Mr. Bean style comedy and the more you ham it up the more they find it funny.

OhneDichIstAllesDoof20 karma

Thanks for answering. One more: what is/was the hardest cultural difference to adjust to in Jordan and Turkey?

mcbranch44 karma

In Jordan, it was seeing how women were treated. It was a total man's world over there. In Turkey, oddly enough, it has been the lack of western foods available. Grocery stores are pretty simple here and everything needs to be made from scratch. As an American, this is quite and adjustment lol

pengu1nz30 karma

no bagel bites...

the horror

mcbranch2 karma

I wish the world would learn that when pizza's on a bagel, you can have pizza anytime

Chance4529 karma

Thinking of moving to Oman/Qatar or somewhere in the Middle East soon. My girlfriend and I have our CELTAs, and we've both worked in SK for 3 years.

What's the pay like in Jordan and Turkey if you have experience and a teaching certificate? Are there any websites or agencies particularly suited for finding employment in that area? What's the expat community like?

My girlfriend is primarily worried about how women will be treated. How are they treated in Jordan? Turkey?

Thanks for answering questions!

mcbranch37 karma

I always wanted to visit Qatar!
Our time in Jordan was unique because we taught at a center that was in the extremely poor section of Amman so we barely charged anything for our students, in turn, we didn't make that much money.
Turkey, you can make about 20K at a good school and have housing paid for you. Once housing is paid, the cost of living is pretty cheap. I don't hang out with many of the expats here in Turkey because most of them are German and retired and I don't speak German, the ones I have come across are nice.
A great website to get you started in looking for jobs is

About women. In Jordan, my wife got a lot of stares and cat calls, and would get pretty annoyed. She says that she feels much more free in Turkey. How she dresses will effect the amount of grief she gets. Dress very conservative

lugzann29 karma

I hope your students are Aladeen.

mcbranch28 karma

I taught a few Aladeens and a couple of Jasimine's, never met a Jafar though

qaddodi19 karma

My cousin is Jafar, you missed him.

mcbranch14 karma

Dag! I would have got some beard tips from him

RonaldTheGiraffe22 karma

I had a Jordanian girlfriend. Bitches be crazy..

mcbranch21 karma


anriana15 karma

What's the income like in Turkey?

Are you American or European (or something else)? I have heard it's difficult to get a job in Europe as an American because it's easier for schools to just get someone from Great Britain.

mcbranch26 karma

I think the average income is about 10,000 USD a year. I am American.
It might be easier in the fact that more Brits go to Turkey than Americans, but it's not like there is this abundant amount of English teachers available. At least where I live (along the Med. Sea) they look at any native English speaker as gold, the biggest pain in the butt is getting a work permit. They have a law that you can't hire a foreigner for a job a Turk could do. Once you get your permit, have a TESOl cert. you won't have that difficult of time finding work

simplesignman15 karma

What kind of lifestyle does 10k afford someone in Turkey?

mcbranch14 karma

You know, I pulled that number from the CIA fact page years ago and I'm sure that's off. It's also including the very poor Eastern section of the country

ThatsMrAsshole2You6 karma

$10k/yr? Wow, you must love what you do! I hope they appreciate your efforts.

mcbranch9 karma

Yeah, they did. I knew that job a temporary and just wanted to do some good in the world.

sph2749 karma

How far does that go in turkey?

mcbranch10 karma

I make much more here in Turkey, if I made 10k here I would never be able to visit our families in the US

colaturka10 karma

Which age groups do you teach to in Turkey and what do you think of the English speaking skills of people in Turkey?

mcbranch11 karma

I teach adults and I am always shocked about how little English people speak

octophetus10 karma

I'm going to be finishing up my TEFL cert in the fall and my goal is to go to Turkey. I have been scouring Dave's ESL, /r/TEFL, and a bunch of other places for information on doing TEFL in Turkey and haven't found much info. I would love some tips! In regards to your actual class/school: Favorite thing about teaching in Turkey, how about least favorite? Sorry these are a little less general and a lot more nuts and bolts: What can someone with a B.A. and TEFL cert (but first time abroad) hope to make? Is this enough to hopefully find a decent position? Do you think it would be enough to live off? Is housing support/assistance common? How can you judge if a school is a decent place by Turkey standards? Is it true getting a visa is near impossible, and if so how do you get around that? Anything else you can think of about specifics of teaching in Turkey.

mcbranch16 karma

The biggest hurdle in Turkey is getting the work visa. The easiest way to get get hired first and have the company do the leg work for you. I was lucky and had a job in the States where I worked with University students doing internships, so I got paid from the States for one year while I made connections and then got job offers. If you can afford to live for a month or two and start looking around while here in Turkey it would be easier. I love living in Turkey, its absolutely beautiful, the people are super cool, we have been taken in by all of our neighbors and really feel a part of our community.

joshana1210 karma

What is your opinion on Israel now that you have lived in the Middle East. How is the Palestinian population in Jordan treated?

mcbranch42 karma

The Palestinian population in Jordan is actually greater than the Jordanian population, so they are treated fine.
My opinion on that's a doozy, but the very short version of it is that I feel that the Palestinian people are treated like second class citizens and there needs to be drastic changes within that country.

Imwe7 karma

  • Why did you choose to go to Jordan? Did you have a job offer beforehand or did you find one when you were there.
  • Isn't there a sizable Christian minority in Jordan? Why would you need to bring understanding between Christians and Muslims?
  • How are the Alawites treated in Jordan?
  • Can you tell me the secret to making good baklava?

mcbranch20 karma

I chose to go to Jordan because I had a friend who was moving there and him and his wife convinces my wife and I to go with them, we really didn't have anything going on in the States so we said "Why not?" About 5%-8% of the Jordan population is Christian, but you would be shocked about how little interaction there are among the two peoples. I really don't feel a need to bring understanding but I also realize there are so many misconceptions each have about each other that I enjoy being able to shift each others paradigm (I'm talking more about Westerners and Middle Easterners)

I really never came across any Alawites during my time in Jordan so I can't really comment on the subject.

The secret to good baklava is to get my neighbor to make me some!

manaiish13 karma

If you have a chance, visit Beirut, Lebanon. It's such a different place than the rest of the middle east. Since Lebanon is a almost a 50/50 split between Christians and Muslims, it's very Westernized but with an Arabic twist. You can go anywhere if you can speak French, Arabic, or English.

mcbranch6 karma

Ive heard that beirut is awesome. One of my Arabic teacher was from there and she would always tell stories

mcbranch3 karma

My Arabic teacher was from Beirut, she was super cool and would always tell stories of Beirut. Really made me want to visit.

Imwe4 karma

Thank you for answering those questions. A couple more though:

  • While you were in Jordan how did people react to the Arab spring? Were there calls in the media for more democracy?

  • Do the people you talk to have an opinion on the situation in Syria? Do they openly support one side? I'm asking because both Jordan and Turkey must be receiving a lot of refugees.

  • Can you ask your neighbor to make me baklava? ;)

mcbranch3 karma

Arab spring was very interesting, what an exciting/nerve racking time to live here. Anyway, in general, Jordanians really like the King. He has done a lot to improve the economy and the Queen is becoming quite the world renown public figure, which reflects well on Jordan in a whole. There was a bit of protesting, mostly of how the Parliament was ran and who was appointed Prime Minister (if I remember right). No one was really rallying for the ousting of the King. The aftermath was that there was some reform and pretty much people were happy.

The Syria situation has effected Turkey quite a bit. There are major tensions right now between the two countries and, from what my friends who live near the border say, things are very tense and there is a major military presence there. Most Turks are most concerned about is the economic drain that this huge flux of refugees are going to create in Turkey.

mcbranch10 karma

I would say most support the rebel alliance

amstard6 karma

What made you decide to do this job?

mcbranch23 karma

Wanted to do something different with my life. I grew up in a small town and rarely left it, but all growing up I would look at maps and just be enthralled with them

bonesknowsx6 karma

Do you have to know how to speak whatever language it is before you moved there to teach it? Sorry, I don't know anything about languages except English.

mcbranch5 karma

Not really, it does make it easier when teaching, but not required. My wife's Arabic wasn't really good, but she just taught more advanced English where everything was required to be in English anyway.

capchaos6 karma

Do they hate diagramming sentences as much as American students do?

mcbranch12 karma

Not as much because it helped speak, where as here we already speak English it seems like useless work

Georgeburt5 karma

I need proof. This is ridiculous:

Not going to lie, it would like it much better if I was teaching in Middle Earth. Your not an idiot, just really optimistic

mcbranch2 karma

Sorry, I am trying to whip out replies as quickly as possible and not proof reading my text. Sorry to offend. I guess I'm setting myself up for failure when saying I am an English teacher.

Twobirdsstonedatonce5 karma

I am an ESL teacher in America with Arabic students. Do you have any cultural suggestions to improve my classes? What are some major cultural learning differences? Thanks

mcbranch15 karma

One of the major cultural learning differences was how little outside of the box thinking my students did. It was almost like they didn't know how to think creatively. Doing any sort of role play was difficult. Games were a big part of my lessons, they really liked being competitive so this was always fun. Even the girls would mix it up with the guys.

TrailMixxxDotCom5 karma

I have a degree in History/Middle-Eastern Studies. I've studied in Cario, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and would LOVE a job teaching in the Middle East. I know some modern-standard Arabic and can read/write SOME.. How can I take your job? :)

mcbranch11 karma

When you pry it from my cold, dead hands :)

flippityfloppityfloo4 karma

Do you happen to have proof for this?

From the sidebar:

All AMAs require proof.

mcbranch9 karma

yeah, I've been thinking about this maybe my old blog my wife used to run

mariuolo3 karma

What was the biggest culture shock you experienced?

mcbranch15 karma

In Jordan, it was their refusal to stand in lines. Every place you went it was a free for all. That drove me nuts until one day I was like, screw it, Im barging in there. I got so used to it, it was actually hard to switch back when I came back to the US. People probably thought I was such an asshole

Taure2 karma

English teacher in Chile, here. From someone who wouldn't move to the Middle East for any amount of money, why Jordan?

mcbranch4 karma

I had friends who were moving there and they convinced me and the wife to join them. I had never been to Jordan before moving there

GaudyAudi2 karma

How are schools in the Middle East different from those in the US? When you first started teaching, was there anything that was culturally shocking for you that happened in the classroom?

mcbranch10 karma

I haven't been in too many public schools here but I hear they are pretty terrible, but I can't confirm that Most shocking thing was when we were talking about sports they like to watch. I came to a fully covered woman I'm the class (she even wore gloves, I mean fully covered) she said that she loved pro wrestling and looking at John Cena. Really wasn't expecting that answer

twiggytwig2 karma

How much money did you make in Jordan? How much in Turkey?

mcbranch3 karma

In Jordan I made about 10K (I worked and lived in a poor section of the city, I didn't do it for the money I did it to help out and see opportunities open up to my students that they wouldn't otherwise have) In Turkey I make roughly twice that

teslaspark2 karma

Is there a huge difference between teaching English in Jordan, and teaching English in Turkey? Do people use it for different aims? Like moving abroad versus approaching foreign customers?

mcbranch5 karma

In Jordan, the doors opened up to you if you knew English. You could get promoted, or get a better job just because you knew English. It was also a status thing. In Turkey, its really for tourism or they have to for their job. I teach a lot of hotel managers.

polygonf1 karma

What else did you speak besides English before you started teaching? And how has that helped, even if you're not teaching that language? I'm planning on going into ESL education. At the moment I love German and plan to continue with it, but it isn't incredibly useful outside of the region. Obviously there are more useful languages like Spanish and Chinese, among others.

mcbranch2 karma

I only spoke English when moved. I went to Arabic school in the mornings and taught at mighty first two years

leeroythedon1 karma

Are you Mr. Taylor? I had a teacher who left from my school to teach kids in the Middle East when I was in fifth or sixth grade.

mcbranch2 karma

No, too bad, that would've been nuts

AsksStupidKwestins1 karma

How much do you earn?

mcbranch1 karma

I've answered this, but one more time. In Jordan 10k usd and twice that in turkey

pinkwaff1e1 karma

What do you like most about their culture?

Have you adapted some of their habits into your life? E.g?

mcbranch3 karma

They are super hospitable. I love going into random shops and just sitting down and having tea with strangers. In Jordan they don't really stand in lines so when I came back to America I was super pushy at places like paneras lol

LeftyBigGuns1 karma

I'm extremely interested in doing something similar after I graduate. What are the requirements to teach English in that part of the world? Do you know if there are any extra difficulties for Americans?

mcbranch2 karma

Work visas are the biggest pain I'm the butt.

Frantic_Constipation1 karma

Did you find the job through a recruiting firm? I'm about to graduate college and am interested in doing exactly what you're doing. Do you have a teaching certificate or did you just start applying?

mcbranch1 karma

In Jordan, it was from a friend of a friend. In Turkey, I just moved here and started making friends at the English centers.

knit-it1 karma

Thanks for this AMA. I worked at Yarmouk Uni in Irbid for a couple of years just after I got married (1991.) I have enjoyed reading about your Jordanian experiences. Sounds like not much has changed in 20 years, although I'm sure I'm wrong... I'd be interested to know how the archaological sites have evolved since I was there. Jerash, for example. At that time they reckoned they had only uncovered about 20% of the buried city. We were lucky enough to live in Jordan at a time when tourism hadn't really taken off yet. When we visited Petra and Wadi Rum we were the only foregners there. It was pretty magical.

Edit. Added Jerash.

mcbranch2 karma

Petra now is one of the wonders of the world. There was a huge push for it to get on the list while I was living there. So now there is much more tourism. The king is really pushing it as well and it is having a real positive effect on the economy, but yeah I will be sad if I return to Wadi Rum and its all dirty and nasty

achilleslastgame1 karma

As a newly certified teacher and college graduate, I'm trying to do the same thing.

Did you have teaching experience here in the states before you moved out there?

mcbranch1 karma

No, I wasn't even TESOL certified when I moved lol. I got my cert in Amman.

mcbranch1 karma

But I worked in a place that was desperate for teachers, so beggars couldn't be choosers

edasnoraa1 karma

What are some of the words they just can't get the concept of because it doesn't exist in their language?

mcbranch1 karma

To be verbs are a bit of a handful for them. They get the concept but always forget them when speaking. Pronunciation and speaking rythym is the toughest for them to master

Illquitwhenimdead1 karma

Seriously, what made you want to go to the middle east?

mcbranch9 karma

Because it was the place many Americans were afraid to go to.

hinditurkey1 karma

Cool! I spent a year in southeastern Turkey teaching. Where are you guys? I love Turkey, but the southeast was difficult for me as a single woman, though I still think about going back.

How was Jordan in terms in adjusting to culture shock? What was the most difficult thing to adjust to? What was your favorite part?

mcbranch2 karma

Culture shock was hard on us. More so on my wife since its such a male dominated society. I loved the food, the history and I really enjoyed Arabs. In general I thought Amman was ugly and being from Colorado that was difficult to adjust to

sa_neasy1 karma

I am going to graduate with a BA in TEFL, what are job prospects like there? have you heard anything about teaching in Doha,Qatar, because that's where I am looking.

mcbranch2 karma

No sorry, I don't have any contracts there but I do think I saw a comment earlier about someone teaching there before. Maybe hit him up

MrWampa1 karma

Have you encountered any anti-westerner parents?

mcbranch4 karma

Only once, but I don't think he was as much anti western as much as just an asshole

mcbranch1 karma

Almost everyone was anti-Bush though.

mattymo6291 karma

You, sir, spelled since incorrectly.

mcbranch1 karma

It was a test, and you passed