Things I wish I had known before starting the course. To embark upon yet another career at

To embark upon yet another career at the ripe old > age of 51, may seem like madness to most people. However, most > people would not have given up a successful 27 yr career in Nursing > as I had done 7 yrs previously. This was to take a fitness > qualification that enabled me to have  a “midlife” crisis, and > become a fitness professional and eventually a Club Manager.

> However, the realization that advancing middle age was not > conducive to teaching aerobics classes forever, led me to the > beautiful island of Phuket in March 2007. My plan was to qualify as > a TEFL teacher and remain on the island for a year at least, > practicing my newly aquired skills. Yes, I could have done it in > England, but where was my spirit of adventure' (I wish I had known > how hot it was going to be!)  I wish I had known that it may not be > as easy as all that. Teaching jobs are harder to find on the island > and the government has recently cracked down on foreign teachers to > rightly protect standards. I had done no really solid research into > the course, after all, everyone I had spoken with thought it was a > great idea! Hmmm! Not exactly research based evidence! I knew it > would involve some grammar and some teaching practice…….nothing I > couldn’t handle!! My well- meaning friends had forgotten to tell me > just how intensive the course would be; that I would be learning > grammar points I had never heard of before, and that teaching real > live students would begin 2 days into the course! The first 2 days > we were lulled into a false sense of security. A couple of gentle > input sessions, and time to observe the experts at work. Halfway > through that first week ……teaching! Now we get down to the real > stuff, lesson planning and the delivery of a 43 minute lesson > taught via the ESA methodology.

> I wish I had known that I would have to wear proper shoes whilst > teaching! Every lesson I taught was observed by a different > trainer, who helped with the preparation of the lesson as well. > There is a structured system of very positive feedback as well, and > the lessons are ongoing throughout the course, varying the student > levels so that you gain experience of teaching different groups.

> Second week……..GRAMMAR! This was the part I had been dreading. It > had never been this difficult during my schooldays! Verbs, nouns, > pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, present, past and future tenses, yes > they were all familiar. But hold on a minute! What’s this past  > perfect continuous bit' Future perfect' Present continuous' Better > knuckle down and get the grey cell activated. Worse was to come! Ah > yes! The wonderful International Phonetic Alphabet. Now I am > struggling with symbols as well as tenses. At the end of week 2 I > am slightly shell shocked, but optimistic. I have practiced my > tense table(invaluable) and learned my phonetic vowels and > consonants(voiced and unvoiced), but still have to conquer verb > usages and dipthongs.

My optimism was dashed at the start of week > 3. Thrown into the mix were conditionals, reported speech, modals > and the cherry on the top passive voice. Now it was really > beginning to sound like gobbledegook! To make matters worse our  > overly cheery trainer  kept assuring us that we would all be > getting high marks in the exam on Monday. ( I wish I had known > before I took the course that the trainer would be a manic, > caffeine addicted American!)( But he’s great really) Not only a 3 > hr exam, but at least 3 more teaching sessions, plus a student > profile to complete, not to mention some ridiculous research > article to write.

Now strangely enough by the end of week 3 > an unnatural calm had descended upon me. I had done quite a lot of > study, and I had also managed a good teaching practice with plenty > of positive feedback that had bolstered my spirits. Pennies were > beginning to drop regarding the grammar points and the phonetics > looked almost readable….something must be going in after all. Maybe > I would be o.k. on Monday after all' All in all a great experience. > If only I’d got my visa extended before I’d come out here. I wish > I’d known that before starting the course.

> I knew grammar would be tricky, I wish I’d known just how tricky it > was for me personally. I wish I’d known how great all  the trainers > were, and how encouraging. I’m so glad I did it!