My morning mantra recharges me

I look at my mornings as my recharge time from the day before. My morning mantra routine gets me into shape, whether it was a good, mediocre or bad class the day before.
I work and live in a country notorious for translating English into their language and vice versa. As part of my morning mantra, I remind myself not to fall into translating English to their language when the going gets tough.

Yes, this is my morning mantra. I remind myself to stick to English constantly, only to teach my students in English. After school, if I have time for a coffee or a coke, I can skip the “English only” mantra.

On my Trinity CertTESOL, I can still remember Unit 5. The Unit was composed of 4 different 1-hour classes where the tutor only spoke to us in Polish. At the start of the first class, I thought it was crazy because she only spoke Polish. Zero English used! From instructions to praises, everything was in Polish. I passed my CertTESOL course, and I must tell you that Unit 5 (Unknown Foreign Language) was the most enjoyable part of the course. I learned basic phrases, and it showed me that my teacher could teach me Polish without her using any English to help me out.

Well, a year on, I see Unit 5 in action. As soon as I enter the school where I teach, my “English only mantra” kicks in. I simply remind myself that I will only speak Spanish when I get out of the flat, on the streets, in the metro, in the shops, or anywhere other than school.

I want to be an effective EFL teacher, and one of the best ways to go about it is to use the “Only English” method. Most of us have heard of Stephen Krashen, most of us admire his work, and most of us will know he spoke about the “English only” method to acquire a foreign language

The “English only” method I use is not easy in a country where translating everything is part of the psyche. Someone called Miguel would introduce himself to me as Michael. The first time I came across this, I innocently looked at my roster and said, “ Sorry, I have a Miguel here.” “Are you sure you are in the right class?” My Spanish has vastly improved since that class, and so has my acclimatisation to the Spanish love of translation.

I always tell my students never to translate proper nouns. If their name is Guillermo Cruz, they cannot, God forbid, introduce themselves to English speakers as a William Cross.

Gotta go, it’s time for my morning mantra and a mango smoothie on the side.