teaching

Lessons Learned From a First Year ESL Teacher

1. Creativity is key

imagination

Did you ever have a teacher who exclusively taught from an outdated, horribly written textbook + workbook combo? I did. And do you know what I learned from them? NOTHING. I’ve learned that classes should be really fun and engaging and as a teacher you should always try to make it seem like a different form of entertainment. Any subject can be interesting if you sprinkle some creativity into it. (I once made a dating game to practice physical description words)

2. Teaching is exhausting

Exhausting

As a student you don’t fully comprehend or even try to understand the effort your teacher is making. Your job as a student is to sit, listen, and learn. Your job as a teacher is to facilitate, present, listen, ask 1 billion questions, get everyone involved, try to be creative, manage the classroom, I could keep going but I think you get the drift.

3. Don’t underestimate your audience

audience

Just to clue you in, in my classes I talk in English 100% of the time. Even with my super young students (5year olds), and they can still understand what I want them to do. They can follow directions, and even answer a lot of questions. It’s easy to disregard small kids’ intelligence, but I wouldn’t.

4. Things will go wrong, learn to BS

BS

How many times was the Internet down, my PowerPoint was broken, or an activity I planned didn’t take up the whole class period? More than once. But thinking on your toes is essential in teaching. I learned to BS my way through a class period by playing a random game, thinking of a last minute activity, or resorting to asking tons of questions.

5. Become fluent in body language

body language

It is SO easy to tell when students (or any audience) is not interested in what you are saying or doing. When you notice people’s eyes starting to glaze over, you have to switch it up and be a bit creative (refer to lesson 1). Don’t just keep doing what you’re doing because it’s obviously super boring.

So I know most of you aren’t ESL teachers, but I think the lessons I’ve learned as a teacher can be applied to any career field. Being creative and adaptable, knowing your audience, and thinking on your feet are invaluable skills for anyone.

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A Day in the Life: Logan

Hi Guys!  As Shannon already explained, there is a lot more to our Spanish life than traveling and generously priced food.  We unfortunately do have to work.  Now that I have my weekly routine all figured out, I think its time I share what I do.

My official job title is Auxiliar de Conversación, and that basically means I pretend that I totally know what I’m doing in front of a highly critical audience made up of 11-18 year olds.  I have exactly zero teaching experience and was pretty much thrown into it.  Essentially, they pay me for speaking English with my “perfect American accent” (their words, I swear).

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7:30 AM: Wake up and get ready to educate the future of the Spanish people.  Schools here tend to be pretty relaxed, and like Shannon, I don’t have much of a dress code to adhere to.  I can wear jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.  I try and keep it moderately profesor-y with a minimum of jeans and a collared shirt.

8:40 AM: I (ideally) leave my house for my commute.  Its a grueling 15ish minutes…foot and on the metro (aka its super close).  I really lucked out with the location of my school, and the fact that I can walk there is almost unheard of in Madrid.  Unlike Shannon, however, I work Monday through Friday.

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9:00 AM: Start working.  Everyone at my school is amazing and the teachers have made me feel like a part of the team.  Everyone values the work I do, and it is really nice to feel like I belong.

I am mainly responsible for conversing with the students.  This can range from just asking them questions about their lives to creating vocabulary worksheets.  I do some lesson planning, but it is all based around conversation stuff and never anything like grammar.

11:00 AM: Break time.  I just go to the teachers lounge and hang out and practice Spanish.  I normally have between 1-3 classes between this break and when I start at 9.

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11:25AM-End of day.  My end time varies a lot more than my start time.  Monday-Wednesday I finish around 2, and Thursday-Friday I finish around 5.  I have anywhere between 3 and 6 classes each day, and I am anywhere between 50% and 100% worn out when I’m done.  Its not that the job is hard, but I spend most of the day on my feet using my “teacher voice.”

Tuesdays and Thursdays I also have private lessons that I do on the side.  I don’t really love doing them, but the money is good and I enjoy teaching the students.  Overall, its not too demanding, and I am enjoying things here in Spain.  I hope you enjoyed learning a little about my life here.

Besos y abrazos,

logan