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English Teaching Is Music to the Ears of a Former Pop Promoter

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AA: I'm Avi Arditti and this week on WORDMASTER: we meet a newly trained English language teacher from Los Angeles. Curt Burich [BYUR-ick] was at the recent Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages convention in Boston to interview for jobs. But he also came by the VOA booth.

English Teaching Is Music to the Ears of a Former Pop Promoter
English Teaching Is Music to the Ears of a Former Pop Promoter

CURT BURICH: "Right now I am looking for a job as an English professor. I've just completed my master's in TESOL. It's a second career for me. I'm segueing out of the entertainment industry and into teaching."

AA: "Now, you have a very interesting story that you were starting to tell me. Tell me a little bit about how you ended up in English teaching."

CURT BURICH: "Well, I started out in the recording industry. And as you know, from iTunes and from distribution, physical records are not selling, so therefore they don't need people to promote them. And the retail channels have changed, i.e. the death of the American record store -- we no longer have Tower Records. So jobs are on a decline, and you can read about that in the Wall Street Journal."

AA: "What did you do in the record industry?"

CURT BURICH: "I started out as an assistant and worked myself up to a publicist where I was speaking with print medium about covering our recording artists, also trying to procure exposure on television."

AA: "OK, so who were some of the recording stars you promoted."

CURT BURICH: "When I was there, we were working with Nelly Furtado, Rufus Wainwright, Lifehouse, people who are contemporary, yes."

AA: "Then what did you do?"

CURT BURICH: "Well, I actually segued over to television before the industry sort of collapsed and was able to get work in music specials on television. It was very similar to the work that I had been doing. From there, though, with reality television coming up, I was getting a lot of projects that were ... reality television projects. And at one point I decided that teaching was really my calling.

"The reason that I went into teaching is because teaching is not an entertainment trend. It's a longstanding profession, and I wanted something a little bit more secure that allowed me to travel and have interaction with students, people learning English."

AA: "And you got your master's where?"

CURT BURICH: "California State University, Sacramento."

AA: "And where do you hope to teach?"

CURT BURICH: "I'm looking at a variety of different places. I spent some time studying in Turkey, and that is an interest. Eastern Europe is also a fascinating place that I've traveled extensively and could see myself ending up."

AA: "What is the job market like right now for Americans with similar interests in English teaching -- what are you finding?"

CURT BURICH: "I really believe that it's still a very healthy economy, I was able to get ten interviews here over the course of two days. So it was well worth the money that I spent flying myself from California all the way out to Boston."

AA: "So these ten interviews you had, who were the employers -- just in general, who were the employers, what kind of employers were doing the interviews?"

CURT BURICH: "International universities. Large universities. I just finished an interview with a new university in Saudi Arabia, forty thousand students. I would work in the English training program there."

AA: "Speaking of the economy, are you running into people here who maybe because they lost their jobs or they're looking for a new line of work -- is there more competition from other people who came from other careers to teach English for some of these jobs out there?

CURT BURICH: "I don't have statistics on that, but I can tell you that the people here who are working and interviewing are a variety of ages. Also, in my graduating class -- I just completed my master's December -- I'm thirty-nine years old and I was the second youngest graduate. So, yeah, I think it's a career that you can consider at any age, certainly."

AA: Curt Burich lives in Los Angeles. He was interviewing for jobs last month at the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages convention in Boston. And that's WORDMASTER for this week. You can find transcripts and MP3s of all our segments at You can also follow us by podcast and on Twitter and Facebook. Look us up at VOA Learning English, and share your own experiences as a teacher or a learner. I'm Avi Arditti.