I still remember the excitement I felt when I first booked my ticket to Barcelona… Ta da!!! It has now been a week since we arrived in what is described as “the best beach city”. Now we will dive into the mysterious world of English teaching! We all had our dreams and anticipation about life in Spain as TEFL students. Barcelona was even better than we had even imagined, so not many of us would have predicted that studying would be the most enjoyable part of this unforgettable trip! But it was, and for this reason, I am delighted to share with you my TEFL review of the first week of the course.
It feels like a wedding day! A year of planning, saving money, dreaming, anticipating and… it flies by so fast that you fail to actually enjoy the happy moments. However, fortunately unlike a wedding day our TEFL course enjoyment lasts almost a month.
Our first day at school was supposed to be the most feverish, but as soon as we entered the room we realized it was going to be a great day. Everyone is just “a box of fluffies” – excited, enthusiastic, ready to rock! There are no long speeches about discipline and theory and the introduction talks are short, sweet and to the point. Our friendly team of teachers, Lisa, Erwin and Jamie greet us. God bless them! They are passionate about their work, friendly and open, with a good portion of charisma. After that we get to know each other through games and different activities. It was quite surprising to see how multicultural our group was: South Africa, America, Catalonia, Zambia, Britain, Romania and even Russia.
It was funny to notice that Americans and Brits could sometimes have difficulty understanding each other. We all are so different, yet so similar in our passion for languages and our desire to travel and teach.
The way we are taught is very inspiring and gives you a lot of confidence.
“English has become an international language and you can’t say that it belongs to a particular culture or has a particular accent. You guys can all do it!”
How great is that!? We don’t have to pretend to be related to the queen anymore!
Five key things that we learnt from our first class:
- Be honest and open
- Enjoy what we are doing
- Use our creativity
- Be welcoming and hospitable
- Laugh and have fun
In the second class we are given a great portion of experience straight away! Our first teaching practice! We are divided into two groups, then each of us has to teach anything we want to – what a move to boost creativity! I’m quite surprised with the ideas the students come up with and also with the variety of things we can actually teach: How to peal an orange, count from 1-10 in Urdu, smile, make your husband happy… Can you imagine how many things we actually learned from each other?!
Three key things we learnt from our second class – a rough formula for success:
- Ability to build a rapport with students
- Sense of humour
This exercise gave us a general understanding of the process of teaching and a rough formula of success. The other ingredients are a matter of learning and practising. We are amazed by the efficiency of the practical method of learning: from practice to theory, which saves so much time! It feels like we have already learned much more than we had during 5 years of University. 🙂
At the end of our first day Lisa invited us all to tapas at a local restaurant. We really enjoyed the delicious
Spanish tapas and sangria. It was a great day spent with a great team of generous people!
The following days.
During the following couple of days it was all about grammar, sweet grammar. We learned:
- Parts of speech
- Tenses and their aspects
- Sentence structure
- Phonetics and its transcription
- How not to go bananas trying to remember all of the rules
- Keep calm and carry on
Foreign Language Learning Class was the highlight of our first week of classes. We were taught Valencian without using English. No one had ever heard how Valencian sounds. But the teacher spoke to us only in Valencian. We felt the pain of learning a foreign language, and the pain of being a TEFL teacher. We realised that we were in trouble…
Seven key things we learned from the Foreign Language Learning Class.
- Use gestures and mimics (especially if you teach the first level students)
- Show feelings
- Make sounds
- Don’t go bananas
Another surprise! We started to have practical classes: giving REAL students REAL lessons! How exciting is that?! It was an awesome experience!!!
But yes… We got tired! After a week of hard work we decided to go to Valencia and enjoy Paella with squid ink and snails. It was a bit silly because you can get it in Barcelona as well. But most of our group mates stayed in Barcelona to explore the mysteries of this great city… It was a great weekend! I think Salvador Dali would describe it in one sentence: “There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”
by Daria Glesser (Russia)