It’s almost time to get back to the real world and start working again. Now when I say working, I use the term loosely because teaching English doesn’t always feel like work. Aside from my struggles to teach English Grammar, teaching can actually be very rewarding and a lot of fun!
Recently I have read a lot of Expat websites and Blogs with many questions about teaching English in Italy. First let me tell you that when I started teaching I had no clue what I was getting myself into! My CV consisted of 20 years of climbing the corporate ladder in many industries, primarily focused on Communications and Advertising.
I have yet to take a TEFL course (who has the time?) but did borrow a TEFL book from a friend and held onto it like it was a pot of Gold! I have had many Aha! moments reading this book after a day of grammar frustrations and gruelling lessons. My Ad Exec. experience exposed me to the world of language and it’s correct usage while I proofread websites, manuals and full page magazine ads, but it didn’t prepare me for teaching grammar rules to Engineers in corporations or the colours of the rainbow to a room full of 5 year old misfits either.
What I did have on my side were a couple of advantages. 1. I am living in a city that does not have a huge English Mother tongue population so I am a rare commodity, 2. I have been taken on with no experience and shown the ropes by some very wonderful mentors, and 3. I’m willing to learn and soak up as much experience as I can because this is fun!
I’ve been in North America for 2.5 months now and have purchased many books and games with the excitement of a 5 year old with a new toy! But, I had to pull in the reins on the credit card and limit myself to only what would fit in my already overstuffed, overweight suitcases.
I can tell you that the past 2 years of teaching has been a huge learning curve for me and it has not always been a walk in the park. It has been trial and error, hours of preparation and nights of crying in a large bowl of red wine, thinking I am in way over my head. Last semester I had a group of four 8 year old girls and I wanted to quit the class after the first lesson. I have often wondered if I was a teacher or a glorified babysitter. But, I made a commitment to the class for the season and my stubborn Irish/Russain heritage would not let me give up so easily.
Desperate to teach these kids something useful without throttling them into the next Province, I spent hours Googling and discovered websites that let you download free word puzzles and offered free lesson plans. I discovered games and pictures for kids to colour for every holiday and grammar blogs for those pesky grammar rules that have a million exceptions.
I have even incorporated my own jewellery making hobby and obsession with technology and Newsweek magazine into lesson plans. If you have a vivid imagination and zest for the outside world then anything can used as a springboard to keep things interesting for your students.
Sure, there still has to be structure and a goal to your lesson plan. And I am by no means the best teacher, I have a lot to learn and have surely already made a ton of embarrassing mistakes along the way. And now that I have the teaching bug a TEFL course would definetly be a wise investment. I’m also excited by the prospect of incorporating a new “Student Blog” for the school too!
So here’s to a new season of more teaching, more learning and more fun!
Bring it on!!!