Teaching English


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!!!

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About lmarmstrong66

I'm a blogger, painter, writer, singer. For the love of all things in nature and creativity.
This entry was posted in Italian Culture, Teaching English. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Teaching English

  1. jessica says:

    Ha! This is an obsession of mine at the moment. I am doing nothing BUT studying for the CELTA in January. What book are you referring to at the beginning? If you do take the TEFL you have to blog about it! Feel free to talk more about teaching if you want, some of us need all the help we can get 🙂

    • lmarmstrong66 says:

      Hi Jessica!

      I have been tracking your blog but haven’t seen any new entries since your one year plan!

      I do not have the ESL book with me at the moment, but when I get back to Italy I will let you know the title.

      What I did before starting to teach was observe a couple lessons with other experienced teachers. I even learned a lot from my Italian teacher because of her approach to Grammar.

      If you are in a rural area it may be a good idea to get some experience doing private lessons with kids too.

      Best of luck! Leah

      Check out my new Blog: “help! I live with my Italian mother in law” Leah Marie

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