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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 >Â age of 51, may seem like madness to most people. However, most >Â people would not have given up a successful 27 yr career in Nursing >Â as I had done 7 yrs previously. This was to take a fitness >Â qualification that enabled me to haveÂ Â a midlife crisis, and >Â become a fitness professional and eventually a Club Manager.>Â However, the realization that advancing middle age was not >Â conducive to teaching aerobics classes forever, led me to the >Â beautiful island of Phuket in March 2007. My plan was to qualify as >Â a TEFL teacher and remain on the island for a year at least, >Â practicing my newly aquired skills. Yes, I could have done it in >Â England, but where was my spirit of adventure' (I wish I had known >Â how hot it was going to be!) Â I wish I had known that it may not be >Â as easy as all that. Teaching jobs are harder to find on the island >Â and the government has recently cracked down on foreign teachers to >Â rightly protect standards. I had done no really solid research into >Â the course, after all, everyone I had spoken with thought it was a >Â great idea! Hmmm! Not exactly research based evidence! I knew it >Â would involve some grammar and some teaching practice .nothing I >Â couldnt handle!! My well- meaning friends had forgotten to tell me >Â just how intensive the course would be; that I would be learning >Â grammar points I had never heard of before, and that teaching real >Â live students would begin 2 days into the course! The first 2 days >Â we were lulled into a false sense of security. A couple of gentle >Â input sessions, and time to observe the experts at work. Halfway >Â through that first week teaching! Now we get down to the real >Â stuff, lesson planning and the delivery of a 43 minute lesson >Â taught via the ESA methodology.>Â I wish I had known that I would have to wear proper shoes whilst >Â teaching! Every lesson I taught was observed by a different >Â trainer, who helped with the preparation of the lesson as well. >Â There is a structured system of very positive feedback as well, and >Â the lessons are ongoing throughout the course, varying the student >Â levels so that you gain experience of teaching different groups.>Â Second week ..GRAMMAR! This was the part I had been dreading. It >Â had never been this difficult during my schooldays! Verbs, nouns, >Â pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, present, past and future tenses, yes >Â they were all familiar. But hold on a minute! Whats this pastÂ >Â perfect continuous bit' Future perfect' Present continuous' Better >Â knuckle down and get the grey cell activated. Worse was to come! Ah >Â yes! The wonderful International Phonetic Alphabet. Now I am >Â struggling with symbols as well as tenses. At the end of week 2 I >Â am slightly shell shocked, but optimistic. I have practiced my >Â tense table(invaluable) and learned my phonetic vowels and >Â consonants(voiced and unvoiced), but still have to conquer verb >Â usages and dipthongs. My optimism was dashed at the start of week >Â 3. Thrown into the mix were conditionals, reported speech, modals >Â and the cherry on the top passive voice. Now it was really >Â beginning to sound like gobbledegook! To make matters worse ourÂ >Â overly cheery trainerÂ Â kept assuring us that we would all be >Â getting high marks in the exam on Monday. ( I wish I had known >Â before I took the course that the trainer would be a manic, >Â caffeine addicted American!)( But hes great really) Not only a 3 >Â hr exam, but at least 3 more teaching sessions, plus a student >Â profile to complete, not to mention some ridiculous research >Â article to write. Now strangely enough by the end of week 3 >Â an unnatural calm had descended upon me. I had done quite a lot of >Â study, and I had also managed a good teaching practice with plenty >Â of positive feedback that had bolstered my spirits. Pennies were >Â beginning to drop regarding the grammar points and the phonetics >Â looked almost readable .something must be going in after all. Maybe >Â I would be o.k. on Monday after all' All in all a great experience. >Â If only Id got my visa extended before Id come out here. I wish >Â Id known that before starting the course.>Â I knew grammar would be tricky, I wish Id known just how tricky it >Â was for me personally. I wish Id known how great allÂ Â the trainers >Â were, and how encouraging. Im so glad I did it! Â Â Â