My Life as an English Language Teacher
I first started to teach English as a Foreign Language in the ’80s when I naively headed off to Sudan armed with little more than a couple of grammar books, courtesy of the British Council, to teach English at a girls’ secondary school in Port Sudan. Having never stood in front of a classroom before, it was a massive shock to find myself teaching classes of between fifty to ninety teenagers, some sharing seats, some with their heads down as they dozed in the forty-degree heat, all of them crammed together at rows of rickety desks in airless classrooms, with me attempting (and often failing) to hold their attention as we conjugated verbs or waded through the exam syllabus. A trial by fire for all of us*.
I mean, how do you even call the register when you have eighty-nine girls in one class? (Answer: you don’t!)
A year later it was time to come back to England and get myself properly qualified. In 1989 I enrolled on a teacher training course at International House, London, and came away with a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) along with a much better understanding of what I should be doing!TEFL cert
I put my new found skills to good use and started teaching in the capital: general English, business English, one-to-one lessons before landing a job in January 1990 at the prestigious Sels College in Covent Garden run by the enigmatic Yunus Reiss (pictured right).
After honing my skills teaching adults at all levels from Complete Beginners through to Cambridge Proficiency I returned to International House in 1992 to complete the Diploma Course and further my teaching skills. Tefl Dip
Armed with the diploma, I now had an even better understanding of language teaching as well as the ability to train and develop new teachers, create more effective classroom materials and the know-how to construct a syllabus from scratch. With this new-found knowledge I became Director of Studies at Sels College, a position I thoroughly enjoyed and which taught me even more about the world of English Language Teaching.
I stayed at Sels College until 1996 when I took my teaching in a completely different direction. For the first time I decided to start teaching young children on a private basis. Having been teaching for about seven years now suddenly I was learning a whole new set of skills to teach toddlers, non-alphabet beginners, primary and secondary school students with differing levels of confidence and a variety of different needs.
And that’s what I am still doing…so whoever you are, whatever your level or particular focus, and now (thanks to the internet and online training) wherever you are in the world, I can come up with a package that addresses your particular language needs. You only have to fill in the form on the contact page to start your language-learning journey!
- Trial By Fire: a difficult situation that tests someone’s strengths and abilities