Hi y´all, I´m Mike from Houston in Texas, the USA. I´m 22 years old and finished college three months ago.
I took some courses in Spanish at college but didn´t feel that I could speak it well. That´s why I ended up in Spain. I found this Trinity College CertTESOL course, and I took the package that included a 1-year student visa and Spanish program. I will stay in Madrid for one year and maybe move to South America later. Nothing definite, but let’s see what the Madrid life has in store for a young Texan like me.
I did the August course. We were told at the course that September was the peak season for getting jobs, and that´s the truth. The phone was quiet for a couple of days, and the inbox remained empty. Then, the show started, and I got a lot of calls and emails about going for interviews. It was pretty chaotic at the start; I forgot to write down the appointments and made some double bookings. I guess I lost some job offers because of that.
Anyway, I went to lots of interviews, and most language academies contacted me again. So after a week, I ended up having 15 classes with one academy, and I could maybe get 5 – 8 more hours with another academy.
Last Monday was my debut as an English teacher, and I don´t know if I possibly can describe how nervous I felt.
The week before, I went up to the academy that had hired me to find out what to teach. They were pretty helpful, gave me the course books, and instructed me to make lesson plans using the texts and exercises in their materials.
I would teach five classes that Monday; four intermediate classes and one advanced. The intermediate classes were general English, and the advanced was only oral, with a woman training for a job interview in English.
I was pretty confident about the intermediate classes; I would do exactly like they had taught us at the course. But, what I didn´t feel too comfortable about at all, was the advanced class. Only speaking for 60 minutes … about what? Job interviews? How do you prepare for that? And what if the student asked me difficult questions about grammar? Would I be able to explain, and would the student understand me?
On the underground to the academy, my head was full of all these thoughts, so full that I went off at the wrong station, I had gone too far! I noticed it when I came up to the surface; I didn´t recognise any of the buildings from the earlier visits up there. So I asked some people around the station in my broken Spanish, and they were very helpful.
I had to get back and take the train a couple of stops in the opposite direction. Thank God I was early out, but now I had to hurry up.
I came running into the academy ten minutes before the first class, and I guess I must have looked quite funny with a tiny rucksack and a plastic bag that was about to fall apart because it was so full of teaching materials. My face was red; I was sweating all over, breathing heavily, and desperately needed to get something to drink. The people at the academy laughed at me, some of them commented something in Spanish that I didn´t understand, but they were all helpful and showed me the classroom. I went in there, dropped my bags at the desk, and looked around. Two of the students had already arrived, smiled at me and said, “Good morning, teacher.” I was still so stressed that I just mumbled something in response.
Ten minutes past the time, five of my six students had arrived. Should I start now, or should I wait for the last student? While I was thinking about this, one of the students said, “Excuse me, teacher, maybe we can start now?” I followed her recommendation, and I was about to teach my first professional English class.
During the introductions, the latecomer arrived, stating that he was “very, very, very, very sorry”.
The group was quite mixed, four women and two men in their late thirties, and most of them were working in business administration.
Everything was fine until I corrected one student who said: “I am living in Madrid since two years ago.”
They accepted my correction, but I couldn´t explain why it was wrong, and I could see that some of them became a bit impatient. I promised them to come back with an explanation next class. The other intermediate classes were OK, but they had more problems understanding me than I had thought. Maybe because of my accent, but one student told me that he would never listen to English in his free time. He only liked Latin pop, and all movies and series would be dubbed.
The advanced class that I had feared the most went much better. The student´s English was quite good. She had some trouble with her pronunciation and specific sounds like she all the time confused the sounds of “since” and “science”. However, her grammar was excellent, and she could correct herself if she made any mistakes related to this. The rest of the class went smoothly. We talked about her background, education, previous jobs, her CV and so on.
I was happy and relieved on my way home that afternoon and couldn´t wait to call my parents about my new experience.
While sitting on the couch in my room, I realised that I was unexpectedly exhausted, so I fell asleep and woke up two hours later. It was the phone! It was my parents calling me to ask about my first classes.