If you recognise words such as modality, progressive, perfect progressive, aspect, copular or intransitive then you are probably involved in the teaching of English. Until this week I knew next to nothing about these words and I’ll be honest, they are the reason I have not updated this TEFL blog for 3 days. My brain went into shut down mode as soon as I left the classroom.
I don’t often feel overwhelmed in a learning situation but I sat there listening to the words above, and many others, and thought to myself that I have no idea what I am doing. Even now after another few long sessions focused on grammar it is all hazy. I’m worried. Worried that I won’t remember things when I need to and that I won’t be able to teach these things….
Luckily, I’ve got lots of support, plenty of practice ahead and heaps of things to read that should help….
Monday this week was a long day, a full day at the school learning about grammar with Peter as our tutor. Peter talks about this stuff like it’s so easy and I was baffled as to how he can remember it all like that. I remember thinking, “can I have your brain please” about 15 times.
Mary from Canada joined the course on Monday and it’s nice to have another person there. Mary has experience in the education system in Canada and has brought a lot to the group I think. As I have said before it is great to hear from other people as everyone sees things differently.
The whole day on Monday was spent talking about verb types, modals, tenses and aspects…. Yeah, it was hard going. I tried my best at the activities we did throughout the day but I think I relied heavily on Nikoletta and Mary to help me through them. When I got home that evening I was so tired from thinking more than I have thought in a long time! I tried to read some things to help me but it wasn’t going in so I gave up on that. Tuesday was another day of lessons for us and I was going to teach the same group as before with a few alterations so I picked a topic and wrote a quick plan ready for the morning, when I would pick it up again. I went to bed with a mind full of all of the words we had been through during the day and I didn't sleep well.
On days like today I have to remind myself why I am here and remember to enjoy the process. It is going to be so worthwhile. Today it felt like I was beginning to learn my own native language all over again and I did not expect it. I thought beforehand that it might be a bit tricky but it all felt so foreign to me.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day and I can enjoy the lesson I am teaching!
Tuesday I woke up early, brain in overdrive thinking about the lesson later on. I put my lesson plan together and decided the lesson would be about influential people. It took a while to put the resources together but by the afternoon I had everything prepared so I headed off to Borgo on the train as usual. Today’s lessons were for an hour and a half each and Nikoletta was up first at 3.30pm. Nikoletta had a lower group and she completely nailed it! The lesson was so good! I learnt a lot from watching and it really gave me some ideas.
I was teaching at 6pm so I had a little time to sort everything out, printing, photocopying etc, before the students started to arrive for the class. Obviously, by this point, the nerves kicked in again but I thought it was ok as I was prepared.
Some people were late to the lesson so I had to start without them and someone turned up 30 minutes late which threw me off a little. The first half of the lesson went ok, I taught the vocabulary as best I could and we talked about interesting people such as Princess Diana and Michelangelo and their legacies (if you have ever thought about trying to elicitate the word legacy – don’t. It’s hard). I wasn’t too happy with how the first half of the lesson went, I’m not sure why…. Maybe I had lured myself into a false sense of security because I thought I knew the group and what I was doing, I don’t know.
The communicative activity however was really good and the students really enjoyed it. I had put together a guessing game so they had to talk to each other in English and ask questions to find out who their partners had picked out of the pot. Some of the questions and conversations were very funny. The students said it was fun so I feel the lesson was not a complete failure.
Feedback from Michael, Nikoletta and Mary came next and it was mostly positive but there were some constructive comments too which I agreed with. I got a bit upset when I gave my own feedback as I felt a bit deflated by my own performance but I soon snapped out of it. It’s all good experience!
A late night after the getting the last train home to Florence and then aperitivo with my flatmates/friends in the city. I have to be honest though, I needed a pick me up and it was a funny evening. I sat there thinking what would I be doing if I was in the UK. Nothing probably.
Today was another day of vocabulary teaching and grammar with Kristin and Peter. Of course my brain went into “I have no idea what I am doing” mode but I got through it and Peter’s notes are really helpful, I have been reading over them a bit tonight. We went through conditional sentences today and a few other areas of grammar. I feel ok about some of it but I know I'm really going to have to keep going over these areas before the exam in a few weeks.
Tomorrow we are all teaching and I have a beginners class! I am so nervous. I have openly said I will struggle with real beginners as I keep thinking what if they don’t understand anything but I have some ideas so I will put my plan together tomorrow and see how it goes in the afternoon! I have to incorporate listening into my lesson tomorrow so that will be different for me.
I am absolutely exhausted tonight, I came home and did some laundry and I have been relaxing, snoozing and reading ever since (with a lovely pasta dish thrown in for dinner). I’m going to try to get a good night’s sleep tonight so that I feel better for tomorrow. I hope it goes well!
I'll let you know how I get on!