British Expat English Teacher Returning Home?

Three months ago I wrote this properly depressing article for Jen @SpanishInterruption about how crappy it was having to move back to England. Don’t misunderstand me; I still don’t like England, but things have improved somewhat since I boarded that plane from Granada to Gatwick 3 months and 2 weeks ago.

First, culture shock

England has changed so much since I left here in 2012. Back then, I honestly never heard anyone talk about Brexit, and I still held the belief that sound reasoning can resolve almost any problem and that most people aren’t idiots. Ah, those were the days!

Second, the weather

It’s only early October so perhaps I’ll hold my comments until January when I will likely be incredibly depressed and have forgotten what warm feels like.

Third, career

I don’t have a degree. I know. Unbelievable! Who do I think I am!? I’m from a working class family, we weren’t raised with the expectation that we’d go to uni. We grew up, got a job, and moved out. I wrote a while ago for Mr Chorizo @ExpatMadrid about the opportunities I benefitted from in Spain simply because I am white and English. I made the very best of those opportunities: I started and ran an English language programme for refugees and displaced people with Asilim in Madrid; I studied Volunteering With Refugees with Cambridge Assessment English & Crisis Classroom, and English In Early Childhood with the British Council; I’ve achieved my Level 3 Award in Education & Training; gained an undergraduate qualification in Arts & Languages with the Open University; and have benefitted from numerous CPD courses provided by my employers in the 6 years since I gained my TEFL/TESOL (with a merit, by the way) in 2012.

However, without a degree, I can’t legally work as a teacher in UK schools. Nor will I be accepted by most English language academies. For that I would need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) which means a degree level education in the chosen subject plus a post grad in teaching, or a degree in the education field. It is theoretically possible to get onto a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course based on relevant experience in place of degree level education but it was too late in the year for me to even think about doing that, and I was limited to only 2 local universities to choose from as the priority right now is being near family.  It might also interest anyone reading this to know that QTS can be gained in some schools while working as a teaching assistant as a sort of on-the-job training and qualification, but very few schools take part in this programme and they’re quite selective. Again, it was too late in the year for me to even attempt this!

So, as so many returning TEFL teachers before me have found, my options seemed to be limited to Teaching Assistant (with a generous accompanying salary of anywhere between 13,000-19,000GBP) or… teaching assistant.

As I have mentioned previously, I returned to the UK due to illness in the family which was depressing enough as it was, so the added prospect of having to assist a teacher in preparing materials and setting up their classroom for a salary that would force me to live in a cheap house-share didn’t exactly fill me with joy.

Consequently, I did what I could to look for an alternative, and I’m happy to say I found several! So, if you’re a TEFL teacher without a degree, returning from abroad, and wondering what the heck you’re going to do with your life, don’t despair! It would appear that there are in fact, a fair few options for you!

  • Study: I mentioned that it is theoretically possible to get onto a PGCE using your experience in place of a degree. The UK has an acute shortage of foreign language teachers at the moment and instead of the usual astronomical fees charged for higher education in this country, the government will actually give you up to 25,000GBP to study to teach modern foreign languages at secondary level. So, if you’ve learnt a second language while abroad, use it!
  • Translation/Interpretation: Again, if you can speak a second language, there are opportunities to work as a translator or interpreter and the pay isn’t bad. As soon as I came back to the UK I sat a Spanish language exam with SIELE in order to get my level down on paper. I scored between a B2 and C1 in total which was enough to get me an interpretation job on the lowest pay band. That means that I can interpret for informal events and they pay me 14.00GBP per hour. Obviously, if you’re a qualified translator or your level in the second language is higher, you’d get paid more, but that’s still better than a teaching assistant salary! If you’re in the south of England there are lots of opportunities with the company I’m signed up to and they provide a great training programme too.
  • Online teaching: So, I’ve discovered since moving back to the UK that I’m worth more as an online teacher. Oddly, between Granada GRX & Gatwick my value increased a few euro an hour in the world of online teaching. Companies such as iTutor will pay me more based not only on my nationality but my country of residence. UK & US based teachers are paid more. iTutor pay on average (depending on student attendance and teacher rating) 13-14.00GBP per hour. Once you’ve jumped through the various hoops; buying the red polo shirt, creating your background, procuring the correct headset, I’d say it’s worth it. IQBar pay even more, although with iTutor you can choose to teach only adults, if kids aren’t really your thing.
  • Other teaching-related jobs: Between January of this year and the summer I was volunteering with an organisation who provide English (and now Spanish) classes to people in the refugee sponsorship programme waiting to be resettled in English or Spanish speaking countries. Over the summer I was offered a job as a teacher/student coordinator for the organisation, and although it’s only part time and a rather small hourly rate I absolutely love it and can honestly say it’s the best job I’ve ever had! I applied for a few other coordinator or head of studies jobs, too. There seem to be a lot of opportunities of this type with English First.
  • Transcribing: Ok, this is if you’re desperate. But I was when I first came back! Between various hospital visits and no fixed abode I had to find something that could work around me. I have an account with Rev (they also have opportunities translating and captioning). The pay is appalling but it’s something, and if you only have a chance to work a few hours here and there during the day it’s very flexible. Also, Cambly offer a log-on-and-teach option which is quite handy if you’ve a crazy schedule to work around. Cambly pay 10.00USD per hour but it’s something, and you sacrifice your hourly rate for the flexibility.
  • (Other) language teaching! If you’ve managed to learn a foreign language on your travels, then you’re in a minority in this country! England has a serious lack of foreign language stuff in general, and given that the country is leaving the EU and many EU nationals are heading back home or to other EU countries rather than hang about to see the aftermath of a historically bad move, now is a good time to start your career in modern foreign language education! I am working for an organisation called Aspire Sussex who offer adult education for those who wouldn’t usually be able to pay for their own, such as retired people, unemployed people or those with refugee status. (They’re also after English teachers if that’s of interest, although you’d need at least a degree or a Level 5 Award in Education & Training.) The hourly rate is really good although I should mention that they are EU funded so…
  • Get educated! So, despite everything, I don’t disagree with the whole degree + postgrad = QTS thing. There’s a reason why a UK education is so admired and sought after. So, in spite of all my complaining, I have enrolled myself on a BA (Hons) Arts & Humanities with Spanish and Religion with the Open University. It’s going to take me 6 years, but I think it’s going to be fascinating! Afterwards I plan to either do a PGCE in modern foreign language teaching, or a master’s in translation. Because I don’t already have a degree level education, I am entitled to a loan for my studies from Student Finance England. Normally, if you’ve been out of the country for a while, you can’t just come back and get a loan from the UK government, but if where you’ve been is within the EU, then it’s just the same as if you had been in England. This is referred to as your ‘right to roam’ (ah, but what have the EU ever done for us, eh?) As long as you’re resident in the UK on the first day of the academic year, you’re entitled to funding. With the Open University you can study part time whenever you can grab a few spare hours in the day! So exciting!

So in summary, my advice is this:

  1. Make sure you take advantage of any opportunities you have to learn a second language while you’re abroad
  2. Volunteer. It’s good for the world, your karma, and maybe your future career!
  3. Keep up to date with online tools relevant to your sector. I have a friend who is very proud of not knowing how to use the internet, just as he is of listening to vinyl and not having iTunes. That’s great. But I want to have a job in 10 years.
  4. Never stop learning new stuff, and never give up! Change is opportunity. Always.

By the way, a conversation with these guys really helped me to get an idea of what channels I could take upon arriving back to the UK. If you’re lost, give them a call.

Lastly! If you’re struggling with reverse culture shock in an unrecognisable Britain, call these guys. Because for now our health service is still free.

 

What is Social Pain in the classroom?

I recently used this video to demonstrate verb forms in presente indicativo, to my Dad, who’s learning Spanish. I love this song as it’s easy to learn, catchy and cute! One thing about the video is jarring though, that is Teresa Rabal in her role as the teacher directly and repeatedly saying ‘No!‘ to the children when they answer incorrectly. (Thankfully, she’s not really a teacher, and I’m guessing by their behaviour in class that those students are probably actors, too!)

Although, as a student, I value honesty over politeness always – I’d much rather Rabal’s “No! No! No! No! No!” approach than a “well, not quite, but well done for trying” tact – as a teacher I am much more careful with my young students’ feelings.

We now know, because science has proved it, that Social Pain is experienced by human beings in the same way as physical pain. I think anyone who has ever experienced bullying, had their heart broken or been wracked with guilt over a terrible mistake or bad decision, probably already knew this to be the case. There is already ample proof of a link between physical and mental health, with depression being linked to a 50% increase in the risk of death from cancer. The relevance of this in relation to our teaching and our students’ experience in their classrooms is important. Simply put, if we make our students feel embarrassed, like they’re not smart enough or incapable, we’re as good as physically hurting them.

In January of this year a student joined my class after being told by his English teacher at school that he hadn’t passed the first trimester, that he wouldn’t pass the next, and probably wouldn’t pass the one after that either! He is 13 years old. His response? To avoid the physical pain of failure. He just stopped trying. He felt stupid, singled out and victimised by his teacher and understandably didn’t want to make any more effort in the subject only to be told again by his teacher that he just wasn’t as smart as his classmates. His mother, absolutely despairing and not quite knowing what else to do, took him to us for a trial class.

Our methodology is based on approaching English as a necessary but easily accessible tool with which to build on other skills and abilities. At the time of his joining the class we were mid-way through a project looking at the idea of practice and perseverance as being attributes possessed by everyone that allow anyone to do anything they want to! Our case study was seeing how Persian-style rugs are made and then each trying to make his or her own.

We don’t ban Spanish in the classroom, we don’t chastise for mistakes in grammar or pronunciation, we don’t force the kids to do an activity they don’t want, they always have the option to sit out.

In short, we don’t say “No!

That’s not to say we allow anything. There are ways to say “no” without saying  “No!

My new student loved the activity and planned his project out on paper, asking for the materials he needed using Spanish, or describing the objects, or simply just pointing, until, through repetition and slowly understanding that he was in a safe environment where saying the wrong thing wouldn’t cause him pain, he started experimenting with, and improving his English. He learnt all the necessary vocabulary, how to put it together to make relevant questions, and how to use it to express his opinion and give advice to fellow students. And he barely realised he was learning it! Despite his teachers grim predictions, he passed the 3rd trimester.

There are many who argue that this kind of mollycoddling doesn’t prepare young people for the real world, and it’s a valid point, though I would argue that you can teach young people to manage their emotions and provide support for others. Preparing young people for the world is teaching them as much as you can, as best you can, and that means them feeling safe and secure in order to learn whatever it is you have to give them.

We don’t see stabilizers on a bicycle as mollycoddling, or swimming with armbands. We allow the students to feel safe in the water, first.

It’s worth keeping in mind, that when you isolate a child, make him stand in the corner, ignore him, allow others to ridicule him, make him feel lesser than his peers, he feels it. Physically. If you agree with no longer employing slapping or the use of the cane in the classroom then surely you can also see that there are other, less damaging ways to say “No!

¡TEFL STORIES! Meet Jen…

Is moving abroad to teach English the right move? Will you like the job? Is it worth leaving everything to try a new life in a new country? Will you be able to learn the language? Will you clash with the culture? Will you make new friends?

Well, you don’t know until you try!

I talked to several teaching colleagues here in Spain (and a few who’ve since moved on to pastures new!) to get an insight into their motives and experiences.

I think it shows that moving abroad to teach English as a second language can open a whole world of new experiences, lessons and opportunities!

This time we hear from Jen, who after living in Madrid, has moved back to her native Scotland and now writes this blog about the re-pat experience!

Why did you decide to teach English abroad? What was your job before?

I had itchy feet for a long time prior and began developing a huge interest in foreign languages and cultures, so TEFL seemed like a natural progression to sample the lifestyle for myself. I came from a Graphic design background and then got stuck in a dead end bank job after being made redundant, so it was all a very new and exciting experience for me

Is/was it what you expected? If not, what’s been the biggest surprise?

I think everyday was very different in teaching, some days it was what you expected and others it was a complete surprise but either way it was the best decision I ever made. It was hard work though and not being a natural born innovator and not having any practical experience before going straight into the role, I had to very quickly learn how to think on my feet as you can be put in very awkward positions at times. But this was a good way of developing adaptability skills and gaining confidence in your capabilities. If you can survive teaching a class of 15+ 15 year old Italians you can cope with anything in life!

Can you briefly describe your job now, your work history since you moved abroad and your future plans?

Now I’ve returned back home and I’m considering some options and working on a new career plan, whilst doing some temp work in order to fund my future plans. I have been doing some teaching work since I’ve returned and I’m considering furthering my career in teaching here. I think teaching is a career that you can always return to at any point in life and it gives you a great opportunity to travel whilst you do it

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you started teaching abroad, what would it be?

My advice would be to try to speak to as many natives as you can in order to gain the best possible experience. We learn and grow from our interactions so the more you put yourself out there and learn from the people you meet the richer your experience is going to be, which is what it is all about. I used to speak to anyone, from people on the street, in the supermarket and on the bus journey home from work. I met a lot of interesting people on those bus journeys!

What’s your favourite thing about life as an ESL teacher?

My favourite thing has to be the people you meet. I have taught all ages from kids to adults and I learned something very different from each and every one of them. I loved learning about their culture and their view on mine

Can you share a funny anecdote from the classroom?

This is a hard one, there have been loads! But one that springs to mind is one day, two of my 11 year old private students told me that they were going to be coming to Scotland in the summer to a summer camp in Edinburgh. They showed me the school on a map and asked me if I could suggest some activities they could do whilst there. I was super excited for them, so I told them I’d make them up a guide. I went home that day and researched lots of things they could do whilst there and even suggested that I meet them as I would be in Scotland at the same time visiting family. When I arrived at the class the next week with the pre-prepared guide, the kids started laughing and then told me they were making the whole thing up and they had googled good schools in Edinburgh to make it more convincing. I couldn’t stop laughing at their antics and how gullible I’d been. Kids will be kids!

Permanent Residency: Smashing the myths! My experience of obtaining permanent residency in Andalucía

OK, so I have just received my beautiful, new, shiny green ‘Residente comunitario permanente’ card from the Spanish Government.

Before embarking on this process I asked around and in a couple of expat and teacher Facebook groups and received a huge variation of answers. Because of this, I thought it would be useful to describe my own experience, having now secured the residency, in the hope that it might help some of you guys out!

My experience is for the comunidad de Andalucía and I received my residency in June 2018. Specifics may vary for other parts of Spain.

(Oh, this is important and I almost forgot to mention it! You need to have had your NIE for at least 5 years to request permanent residency. Ok, here goes…)

 

  1. The first thing you’ll need is a copy of your vida laboral from the oficina de seguridad social. This is your work history for the time you’ve been in Spain. You should just be able to go to the office with your ID and request it be printed there and then. They might give you a PIN and send you to a computer for you to do it yourself but either way you should leave with a copy of your work history in your hands.

Quick Tip:

Make sure you keep your address updated with this office during your time in Spain. It’ll make life in general a little easier

More Quick Tip!:

If you’re a teacher and your contract is September/October – June, make sure you stay in the system even during those long summers! Go to the unemployment office, in Andalucía this is the Servicio Andaluz de Empleo (SAE), and get yourself signed up as looking for work. Ask for a ‘demanda empleo’. Explain you’re a teacher and you just want to stay in the system until September. This way your vida laboral doesn’t get cut short. I never did this, and as a result my total working life in Spain comes to barely 4 and a half years even though I’ve been here 6, simply because of those almost 3 months that I don’t work every year.

Anyway, when you have your second appointment at the extranjería, (the first will be to check your ID and vida laboral and give you the forms to fill in and pay, the second will be when they check everything and give you your new paperwork) they’ll check if you’re currently de alta. If you’re not, for example if you’re on your summer holidays and between contracts, then you’ll need to present them with the demanda empleo (demanda en alta) to prove you exist as a working entity!

 

  1. Padron de habitantes – certificación de inscripción padronal

When you move to a new neighbourhood you should always empadronar at the local Ayuntamiento. Usually you need your tenency agreement, ID, a bill for the property from your landlord or landlady, and to fill in a simple form they will give you.

Every so often you will need this piece of paper. It’s handy for things like, in Granada, discounted access to the baños árabes or free entrance to the Alhambra on Sundays. Technically, although the empadronamiento remains valid at the last address you registered, the paper certificate on which it is printed is only valid for 3 months. This of course means that when you go to your appointment at the extranjería to get your residencia comunitaria permanente, your printed certificate will need to be less than 3 months old. You can go to the ayuntamiento to have it printed or register to do it yourself online.

 

  1. Tasa. You’ll need to pay for the renewel of your residencia and the change from simple foreigner to RCP. At the time of writing, in Andalucía, this is a 10,71€ charge. At your first appointment in the extranjería, which is classed as a consultation where they just give you information and prep you for the actual appointment to request your RCP status paperwork, they’ll give you the form for paying the tasa. It’s called Modelo 790. You’ll need to take it to any bank and pay the charge there. The bank will stamp the paper and you take it to your next appointment at the extranjería to prove you’ve paid it.

Quick Tip!

The Modelo 790 will have a date on it; the date it was printed, so the same day as your first appointment. To save problems, go and pay it this same day so that the date on the form and the date of the stamp from the bank is the same.

* * *

A Few Notes

-At your first appointment at the extranjería, they’ll simply check your NIE, your vida laboral, give you the form for the tasa, and another form to fill in (this is the simple request for RCP status form referred to as ‘solicitud de inscripción en el registro central de extranjeros’ – on this form you will be able to tick the box for what kind of status you require), and tell you to bring 2 copies of the front page of your passport to your next appointment there. You don’t need to book this first appointment, just show up, explain what you want to the receptionist, take a number and wait.

-My original green NIE is barely readable and I laminated it, plus it’s got my old address on it!

Although I got a bit of a finger wagging at the second appointment for laminating an official government document, it didn’t seem to make any difference and I didn’t need any other paperwork related to the NIE aside from the card itself, which they referred to as my ‘papeles originales’.

Things to remember!

1. Remember that most banks, apart from my beloved ING, close in the afternoons.

2. El ayuntamiento is also usually closed in the afternoons, and even if it isn’t, like here in the Zaidín, they don’t seem to process paperwork in the afternoons! So if you want any paperwork done, you have to come back in the morning!

3. I was super lucky that I was doing all of this during summer when a lot of people were away and not many people are thinking about their paperwork or residency! If you’re planning on doing this in September for example, be prepared to wait!

My personal experience was as follows: first appointment, demanda from the SAE, copies of passport and bank visit on Monday, renewed padrón certificate on Tuesday, took everything and received the Residente Comunitario Permanente card on Wednesday. Chilled on Sunday. Good luck!

Recap: What you need!

  • 2 copies of passport
  • padrón
  • vida laboral/demanda
  • tasa
  • original NIE
  • ID (passport)

Welcome to ¡STUDENT STORIES! where our students tell their story… meet Trésor

Having read so many cool stories of how teachers became teachers and their experiences of the profession, here on TEFL Stories and on What Kate & Kris Did among many others, I thought it was time we heard from some students!

How many amazing stories have you heard in your classes? Just a few weeks ago I was in Skype class with a Russian student who was telling me how, after almost taking his own life, he cured his depression with LSD and decided to learn English in order to go and study psychopharmacology at university abroad! A Senegalese student I taught in Madrid described his terrifying journey from North Africa to Europe by boat, during which he sadly lost his brother to drowning after their boat capsized. He remained grateful for making the journey and was studying English so that he could continue the studies he had had to abandon due to the unstable political situation in his country.

Understanding our students is key to being better teachers. We usually cover the ‘How long have you been learning English?’ and ‘What are your long and short term objectives?’ type questions in level testing, if we have the chance to do that ourselves, but scratch a little beneath the surface and you’ll find all sorts of fascinating, inspiring individuals.

Feeling drained as the school year comes to an end? Wondering what you’re doing with your life?! Fighting burnout? I hope this series will remind you how lucky we are to be teachers and inspire you to come back in September more determined and motivated than ever!

This week, we hear from Trésor. He’s from the DRC and has just been accepted into the Chevening Developing Global Leaders Scholarship programme in order to study in the UK.

1. How long have you been learning English?

I’ve been learning English for more than 15 years! First at school for 6 years and then independently…

2. How have you learnt? Online? In an academy? Group classes or individual classes? Which have you found the best and why?

Apart from classes at school, I have never taken formal English classes elsewhere. For many years the only methods I used to keep my English ‘warm’ was through music and reading academic books in English. I occasionally participated in some discussion groups and English clubs. In the last two years, I have decided to improve my English because I am planning to study a Master’s in the US or the UK.

3. Why do you need English? Why are you studying English?

At school, English was mandatory and I was very fortunate to have some very good teachers. I have always loved English since then. Now I am studying it a bit more because I will need it to study at postgraduate level. For this purpose, I have taken some courses with online tutors using Skype to communicate. They have really helped me with specific needs.

4. How do you feel about English and learning English? Is it a pain!? Do you enjoy it? Does it cause you anxiety? If you can, explain why? For example, is there something that teachers always do that makes you nervous or that you really don’t like?

For me, studying English is not a painful thing to do, even though I have to struggle with the pronunciation of some sounds that you don’t encounter in French. I still think that one skill I need to improve on is listening, because there are so many accents in British English and I am more familiar with American English.

5. Who was your best teacher (think about your learning both as an adult and as a child) why were they the best teacher?

My very first English teachers were definitely my mother and my two big sisters! They gave me this love of English! I then had good teachers at school who taught the basic knowledge of grammar and understanding. Being an adult and more independent, my best teacher is now maybe myself, because even though I have taken some courses online, I have the impression that I make the most of these courses because I take the initiative by suggesting the areas where I need to improve.

6. Where are you from? What is English language education like in your country? Is it accessible? Regarded as important? Under or over funded? Over-rated? Old fashioned? Inefficient? Why? If you could tell us how you’d change it that would be great!

I am from DR Congo in the very heart of Africa. French is the official language and we have four other national languages and many more dialects. English is becoming more and more essential for professional purposes or just to sound more in tune with the developed world. The English basis from secondary school education is quite strong in my opinion. People just need to practice to become good at using it. Taking online courses or participating in group discussions are for me some of the most valuable ways of improving.

7. Anything else!?

I love the word slipper, because it is the first word of English I heard. But it took me so many years to be able to spell it correctly!!

No-prep, last-minute, zero-cost, pen & paper but FUN lesson plan for kids! Enjoy!

Hi there! I just wanted to share a last minute, no extra materials, very little prep lesson plan I did with the kids recently.

They were preparing for an exam and needed to revise the following: prepositions of place, animal names, verbs in 3rd person in present simple, simple comparatives.

I only had a few hours to prepare and no time to go out and buy anything or make anything for the class.

Here’s what we did, I hope it serves as inspiration if you’re ever stuck in a similar position!

  • First, I took some plain paper, cut it up into little pieces about 4-5 cm square. On each one I wrote the name of an animal from their school book and drew a little picture of the animal next to the name. I then hid the pieces in various locations around the classroom. Their task was to find all the animals. When they found an animal, they had to tell me where they found it. “The eagle was/is next to the computer” “The giraffe is inside the pencil pot” “The horse is under the cellotape” “The octopus is in front of the plant” etc.

Prep time: 5 minutes. Revised: animals and prepositions of place. Materials: pen & paper

 

  • After they had collected all of the animals, we put all of the pieces of paper in the middle of the table. I asked them to find an animal that swims/runs fast/eats meat/flies/sleeps a lot/lives in the jungle, etc. When each one found an animal that matched the statement, they had to repeat the animal and it’s attribute aloud. So, for example, when I said ‘find an animal that flies’ one of them might reach for and take the piece of paper with the eagle. Before they can keep the eagle and add it to their pile, they have to tell me ‘The eagles flies’. (Because this area was to be tested in the written exam, I also got them to write down these sentences.)

Prep time: 0-2 minutes. Revised: animals, verbs in present tense 3rd person. Materials: pen & paper

 

  • With the papers that they had collected, it was then time for a comparative battle! They stood up in pairs and played a kind of animal-comparative-top trumps! Each randomly picked one of their animals without knowing what the other had chosen. It was then a battle of outdoing your opponent! “My cheetah is faster than your elephant” “My elephant is stronger than your cheetah” “My cheetah is more dangerous than your elephant” “My elephant is more intelligent than your cheetah” etc!

Prep time: 0-2 minutes. Revised: animals, simple comparatives. Materials: pen & paper

They had a lot of fun and revised everything they needed to for their exam without sitting at a desk with their books and writing sentence after sentence of the grammar they’d studied that trimestre. And I can happily tell you they did great in their exam! Well done guys!

Did you study an online TEFL course? Ever seen a bullfight? Did you do a different job before you became a teacher?

Since qualifying as an ESL teacher in 2012, I have completed various online courses on teaching English to refugees, teaching young kids, & TEFL theory, and in 2014 I studied an AS in Arts & Languages with the Open University.

Additionally, I left my first teaching job for an academy that offered weekly teacher training and stayed with them for 2 years.

Why?

Because my TEFL ‘qualification’ wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
Read about my experience here on What Kate & Kris Did

http://whatkateandkrisdid.com/new-teacher-tales-fiona/

So how does bullfighting actually work and does anyone still bother with it!?

I wrote for Nina Bosken @ A World Of Dresses this week about my experience of bullfighting in Madrid.

If you’ve ever been to a bullfight yourself, or plan to go, have a read and tell me what you think!

What a load of bull: bullfighting in Spain

A Week In The Life..! The coolest things we’ve done this week @Esztertainment!

To coincide with #30dayswithEsztertainment which showcases just a little a day of all the brilliant things we do here in the academy, I wanted to write a quick post highlighting just a few of the cool games and activities we have done in class with the kids this week!

  1. ANIMAL HUNT! Getting out of the classroom! We’re working on a book project with a few of the classes this term which involves a lot of animal vocabulary, as well as focusing a little on the difference between wild animals and pets. As the sun finally made an appearance this week, we thought we’d make the most of it and go outside! We fixed black and white card colouring templates of various animals to the trees outside the academy and took the kids outside. Using an animal soundboard on my mobile phone, I played the sounds of various animals. The kids had to guess the animal (name in English) and give 3 adjectives describing that animal, before running off to find that animal in the trees! After locating the animals, we did a few more activities in teams with a clipboard per team so that the kids could work while still moving around and going from tree to tree. The exercises involved a fair amount of vocabulary for describing the animals but the kids hardly knew they were learning! One by one we ‘caught’ the animals and took them inside where we decorated, coloured and wrote on them for the final part of the class. It was a lot of fun!

2. GOING SHOPPING! Here at Esztertainment we are all about making our kids more independent learners, and that means showing them how English can be fun, and useful! It means teaching them Real Life English, not just sitting them in front of a book and drilling grammar. This activity is an example of just that! First, we put together a shopping list in English and looked at any of the items they didn’t know. Then, while still in the classroom, we went down the list guessing the prices of all the items!

Armed with our prepared shopping list, we headed to Mercadona! In teams, we went looking for each item, practicing questions like ‘What type?’ ‘How much?’ and ‘How many?’

Once back in the academy, we packed away the shopping before comparing our price-predictions to the real total. We did this in two teams, the kids taking turns to write the numbers. This was super fun practice of writing, understanding and pronouncing numbers and the kids were so excited about getting their total closest to the real bill that they barely even realised the learning they were doing! A big thanks, too, to the staff of Mercadona!

3. INTERVIEW A REAL-LIFE YOUTUBER! We’ve been working a lot recently with our young teenage students around the idea of what they want to do when they’re older. They’re preparing for their B2 exam and my objective is to make the preparation process as enjoyable as possible! In addition to some mock exam writing and reading tasks around the subject, we also practiced listening skills with this TED Talk on the subject of success and failure and how the two are not necessarily opposites. Last week we talked about dream jobs and the profession of ‘Digital Nomadism’. This week, we had the opportunity to actually speak to a real life Digital Nomad in order to ask him about his job and his life! We watched some videos from his channel before having a class discussion about what we assumed his job was like. From that discussion came a list of about 20 great questions which the kids then asked him themselves in the following class via a live Skype connection. Zoltan spoke to us and answered all of our questions from where he was staying (poolside in Italy!) It really helped to make more accessible the dreams they had of travelling the world, of not ending up in a boring 9-5 and of maybe one day working from next to your swimming pool! I especially loved that Zoltan is not a native English speaker, but worked hard and successfully learnt the language in order to achieve his goals. Just like our kids are doing now. Thanks Zoltan!