a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
When most people think about TEFL, they probably think about teaching in a primary or a high school in a non-English-speaking country. While that definitely does account for loads of jobs, I think people would be surprised at how many teachers end up in a language school. Language schools are slowly but surely taking over the world and no doubt there will come a time in your career when you will come into contact with one. You probably did your TEFL/CELTA course at one. I have spent most of my career at language schools in London, Cambridge, Barcelona and various in Cape Town and what constantly surprises me is that even across all of those countries and all the different schools, my days were pretty much the same:
8.30 Arrive at the school. Usually be the first to arrive because TEFL teachers have a knack for turning up 5 minutes before a lesson.
8.35 Tea. Photocopy.
8.45 Set up in classroom. Watch the stragglers waltz in, bleary-eyed from the party the night before.(Note: if teacher is in a similar state, make sure you have plenty of eye drops on hand and fake it until you can go home and sleep it off. There’s no reason the students need to know you have a social life too). Make awkward small talk until every one has arrived.
9.00 Lesson. Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced or sometimes a mixture of everything when students don’t know where they’re supposed to be. Try to make the present perfect or third conditional of whatever it is a bit more exciting by faking enthusiasm for grammatical terms or whatever the topic is for the day (yes, some days there can be a lot of faking going on), try to make everybody laugh and not fall asleep while simultaneously hoping and praying that some of this knowledge will stay with them for at least 5 minutes after class.
10.30 Tea. Ignore the students who want to talk to you in the break. Photocopy. Try find more boardmarkers because yours have run out of ink.
10.45 Lesson. Repeat as above but change the bums on seats, the classroom and the unit in the coursebook. If you’re lucky, change the coursebook.
12.15 Tea. Staff meeting. Try eat lunch without being too noisy. If you have forgotten lunch, realise you have no time to go and buy something and make another cup of tea. Photocopy. Try find boardmakers because yours have gone AWOL.
12.45 Lesson. As above.
2.30 Lesson. As all the previous aboves.
4.00 Tea. Fill out all the paperwork from the day, trying to remember what you did so you can fill out the record of work so you don’t get confused tomorrow. Find your boardmarkers in your bag. Plan your lessons for tomorrow. Photocopy.
5.30. Home. Wine. Hide from your housemates because you’ve done enough speaking for the day. Try desperately but unsuccessfully not to think about your lessons tomorrow.