a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
What usually happens to me after a while, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, is I start to feel a bit stuck. This is nobody else’s fault but my own; when it happens it really just means that I have come to the end of a challenge and I need to find another one. So it was in 2007.
By this time, I had spent the last 3 years teaching. I had taught kindergarten, Young Learners, teenagers (shiver) and adults; academic English, business English, general English; in government schools, private schools, summer camps, language schools; in Thailand, China and England. A lot had happened in those three years and I had had many difficult moments – those moments when you wonder why you started on this journey in the first place – and then time had passed and I had got to grips with those difficulties and suddenly those terrains weren’t so mountainous anymore.
Usually at around this time I would pack my bags, get a visa and head off somewhere new. But I was tired of doing that too, and no matter how grey and miserable England can be, I was enjoying the tea and scones far too much to leave just yet. So I decided to do the next best thing: study.
I realised that while I was tired of TEFL, deep down it was still my passion so I didn’t want to stray too far from that. I’d always been interested in languages and learning languages and so I found myself applying for Applied Linguistics. If you’d asked me then what Applied Linguistics was, I probably would’ve swiftly changed the subject to hide my ignorance, but luckily it was exactly what I was looking for (without my even realising it).
Most people ask whether it is more beneficial to do the Master’s or the DELTA and that’s a difficult question. I’ve done both and there is a definite difference between them, but if I had to choose I don’t think I could. [More on the DELTA later]. The Master’s introduced me to the world of theory behind the lesson plans, the ideas of the names behind the textbooks, the reasons for the methodologies. And my mind exploded:
David Crystal, Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, David Nunan, Jeremy Harmer, Jean Aitchison.
Wernicke’s area, Broca’s aphasia, semantics, syntax, neuropsychology, psycholinguistics, phonology.
Every day I learnt something new and there was a moment where I didn’t know what was going on and I actually had to stop and think (hard), and that had been what was missing before. And an unexpected outcome? I couldn’t wait to get back in the classroom.
So much happened in that year that I could fill my blog for the next 100 posts, but I won’t. Instead I’ll pick a few of the top things I learnt in my Master’s and hopefully persuade you to get back into the classroom – no matter how old, how rusty or how smart you think you are. Stay tuned.