Friday, 28 September 2012

A Day at the Office ~ When People Test You


Now, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve worked in a variety of environments. I’ve been a games tester; I’ve been in retail; I’ve worked with people from all walks of life – your standard geeks, your office jockeys and your speakers of other languages – and in very different areas – the suburbs, the city…etc. Now, I currently work in the ghetto – there’s no point sugar coating it; it is what it is - of which I’ve been working in for the past year. I’m an administrator and in my honest opinion, it’s not at all as rewarding as it once might have been – not since I completed my TESOL course anyway. TESOL introduced me to a new world and I’m desperate to get stuck in but at the same time, I owe my current place of work a great debt because no other place in their right mind would have granted me four weeks off to do a course. So for that I am very grateful.

But I have to be honest with myself as well. Because I remember stepping back into the office on that Wednesday morning and thinking to myself:

Why am I still here?
Because I’m reminded of the life that I was so desperately trying to leave behind. University was supposed to have helped me get into counselling, which was my original career choice, but after a scuffle with said choice and being told that I lacked empathy, I was pretty much at a loss. I was working in a coffee shop at the time and no longer found it enjoyable. I, therefore, considered that office work was the way forward, but the office I work in is far from ordinary and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the area.

You see, I work on the high street so anybody can walk in and out as they please and the people in this area definitely indulge the opportunity. While some people are relatively normal, others just make you want to tear your hair out, but in the interest of business and maintaining customer service, I have no choice but to endure. I am however, 90% certain that if I were working in the city, where business etiquette is bustling, I wouldn’t encounter even half of these people:

THE TIMEWASTER

General Description: The timewaster is the person with nothing else better to do. For the most part, they are male, but I have encountered the odd female from time to time. They often have no purpose for being there other than to kill some time and bombard you with useless and sometimes senseless questions.

Example: A man came in asking about obtaining a National Insurance Number (NI). I’m pretty sure that the NI is local to the UK only, but I think it’s similar to a Social Security Number or a method of National Identification in general. Either way, the company I work for specialises in training but we are frequently mistaken for a job centre. As NI’s can only be obtained from job centres, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and tried to direct him to a job centre. He then went on to ask if we were a Citizen’s Advice Bureau because he’d had an accident on a construction site. I declined. He then went on to ask if we were a charity. I declined. He asked what we did here and I told him and then he reverted back to his question about the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. He danced in this circle for the better part of fifteen minutes to which I nearly lost my rag because I really wanted him to leave. Eventually, he did, but not before dragging a good slice of my patience with him.

Conclusion: These people are generally infuriating and have no real purpose but to get on your nerves. They are usually harmless nevertheless and if you demonstrate slight irritation, they usually get the message and leave. Don’t loose your top completely though. It’s not worth it.


THE MOUTH

General Description: The mouth is usually a previous enquirer or even a customer that feels the world owes them a bag of chips. More than that, however, they want the whole world to know about it and so usually they come into the office looking to start a fight.

Example: A colleague of mine dealt with a customer, who I’d initially spoken with, when I was away. She told me that this woman had brought her friend and would frequently make loud snide remarks as if she didn’t trust what she had been told on the previous occasion.

On a separate occasion, a man came in shouting the odds because he hadn’t received his Criminal Record disclosure in the post*. We tell all customers that it can take up to 8 weeks. As he needed his disclosure for something or other, he came in guns blazing even though he’d only completed his application with us a week before.

Further still, this happened to me again with a guy who had completed an application with us last year. He materialised several months later stating that he had yet to receive his disclosure – I always find these cases strange because if it was generally that important to him, he would have appeared sooner. Ultimately, however, his mouth was silenced when we discovered that his disclosure had been dispatched eons ago and that he needed to get onto the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) or better still, his postman as to why he hadn’t received it.

Conclusion: These people are highly unpredictable and sometimes it’s really difficult not to lose your cool because these people might try to verbally attack you personally. A lot of the time, they’ll request to speak to the manager, but ultimately the easiest thing to do is to dissect the problem if it is a previous customer, and deal with it. If it’s a previous enquirer, I find myself trying to be smart with them. It’s probably bad for business, but if they role up with a bad attitude, would you genuinely even want their business?

THE MOTIVE-MINDER

General Description: These people are very easy to spot once you’ve been in the game for some time. They come into the office with an ulterior motive and it usually involves trying to get something for less than the price – or better still – for free. There are usually shady high jinks and red flags firing off around them, such as a fake passport. These people are always looking for handouts.

Example: I kid you not when I say I’ve seen a CRB application being completed where someone had to look at their own passport to write their signature.

On other excursions, people have actually come in to speak to my boss and ask for a reduced fee for certain courses. Additionally, as part of some courses, we also, give references for people who’ve trained with us and more often than not, ex-clients will ask us to lie for them. One woman wanted us to lie for her and state that she’d been working at a supervisory level. She’d already put it in her CV and submitted it, having assumed that we would lie for her. I really don’t know what she was thinking, but this was swiftly nipped in the bud.

On another occasion, a woman spent the entire day spilling her life story to my boss in order to get us to help her find work. We sent her for interviews which she failed and then she came back again for more help. Once again, our ties to her were swiftly eradicated.

I can always tell when this is happening nevertheless, because their tone is often hushed and my boss will frequently lose her temper and usher them from the office. I find it amusing sometimes because I’m a strong believer in karma. If you have to craft a serious lie to get somewhere, I’m sure it’ll bite you in the ass later on down the line.

Conclusion: It’s very rare that I deal with these people because they usually wish to speak to the manager, but I have had guy attempt to haggle with me. I’m quite no-nonsense about this nevertheless as I’ve never gotten anything for a “specially reduced price” in my life. If it’s thirty-five pounds, it’s thirty-five pounds! I’m not dropping anything to twenty just because someone’s supposedly skint and neither should you.

THE UNRELIABLE

General Description: I have the unfortunate role of dealing with funding. What this means is that we have access to funding so that customers can do certain courses for free as long as they meet a certain criteria. Of course, when something is free, people jump on it like wild animals. Everyone wants a piece, but when it gets too hard or it takes too long, they lose interest and this is because to these people, the value of “free” is worth about as much as fertiliser. It’s like gold for growing props and saving the future, but all it really is, is just shit.

95% of Unreliables are female. Why? Because the courses offered attract more females than anyone else. Sometimes their even paying customers who, like the Mouth, feel like the world revives around them and will schedule to come in one day and then not show up. These people won’t even call to let us know what’s up so we’ve booked the room and set it up for them, and low and behold, no trainee.

The non-paying clients (or clients that have qualified for funded course are worse) however because they don’t seem to understand that coming to classes is important and that they’re being monitored by the funders who have so graciously released money so that they can do the course. Now I understand that it may not be possible to come to every class – emergencies and illness happens – but these people generally take the biscuit. They don’t do their assignments. They disappear. No manner of telephone calls, emails or text messages seem to get through to them and then they materialise several months down the line demanding to know why they haven’t been contacted.

-facepalm-
Conclusion: If I had my own way, I would lock these people into a contract. Whenever I’ve done a course, I’ve had to sign something dictating my responsibilities as a student. TESOL demanded I attend 90% of the course or I fail. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of power and so I have to grin and bare it. What I do however, is keep a record of everything because if someone contacts me several months down the line, I regularly find myself telling them straight that there have been several attempts made to contact them, that they’ve missed classes (we keep attendance records) and that generally, it’s their own fault for not telling us they’d changed their contact details.

THE RANDOM

General Description: The name is as the name does. Randoms are the pinnacle of je ne sais quoi. Remember when I said that the Mouth was unpredictable? Well, Randoms are ten times worse because these people come in all shapes and sizes and while on occasion, you can spot one a mile off, others will appear to look relatively normal and these are the ones to watch.

Example: It isn’t uncommon to have someone come in off the street and ask for directions. Seems harmless enough, but when you’re in the middle of dealing with a customer and Mr. Random comes bounding in desperate to know where Northcote Road is, you start to question their sense of awareness because a) you’re not even paying for my time and b) you’re stepping in on someone who is. On a separate occasion, a man had a job interview and couldn’t find the location. My logic siren was roaring loudly at that point because I thought it was common knowledge that you research the hell out of a company before you head to an interview – address included.

I’ve had people come in and ask to borrow a pen. I’ve even had people come in asking to use the toilet despite the fact that there’s a Tesco not four blocks away from our office.

The kicker however, was the rather cheerful looking woman who came in one afternoon. She was dressed well and appeared to be seriously interested in dealing with us, until I realised that she had a rather overactive imagination and just would NOT stop talking. According to this woman, she’d been everywhere and done everything. In fact, she was so into herself that she didn’t even see me switch the forms she was filling out because there was no way in my right mind that I could have the company deal with this woman and she wasn’t in her right mind either.

Conclusion: Randoms are fairly harmless, although they might get a little antsy if you don’t submit to their whim straight away. Dependant on my mood or level of tolerance, I might indulge them, but if I feel that something isn’t right, I’m going to steer them clear of our services and point them elsewhere. You never know what to expect with these people and it really isn’t your job to be looking on Google Maps for directions when you’ve got actual work to be getting on with. An office isn’t a public toilet either.

THE WINDOW CLEANER

General Description: This person is right up there with the Randoms, only he’s got to have his own special category and yes, he is always male. The office I work in is inundated with posters in the window meaning that it’s difficult to see inside the building from the outside. I, therefore, expect that when I’ve forgotten to turn the lights on in the morning, we’re gonna get the odd person peering in through the window to see if anyone’s about.

The Window Cleaner goes that extra mile, however, and will press his face into the glass and linger there. And he will just stare at you like a stalker in the night – breath on glass included – and sometimes, like today, he will move between posters with innate purpose. The consensus seems to be:

a) seek window
b) move into window
c) position face
d) stare
e) remove face from glass
f) repeat.

And I’ll admit, initially, it used to freak me out, but I realise that if you indulge them, they will continually try to get your attention. So:

Conclusion: Don’t freak out. These people may not be generally all there, but 9 times out of 10, they don’t come in. If they do come in, and it’s clear their not all there, fob them off. If you fear for your life, call the police.

~

So this is just some of the things I face when I’m at work. I’ll admit that some of these are extraordinary cases, but they’re more common than I would like and they all seem to be specific to this area I’m afraid. The rules of business just don’t seem to exist here and I feel that if any of this took place in the city – at any corporate bank or skyscraper – the culprit would be financially reprimanded or escorted off the premises. If only I was so lucky.

What I can say, however, is that this has definitely made me stronger. In all of my other jobs combined, I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with quite a variety of people before and each situation presented something different.

I feel like I’ve become a bit more perceptive and a bit more aware as well so if you ever encounter someone difficult and they make you wish they would die, when you’ve managed to calm yourself down, think about it.

You’ll definitely be prepared for it next time.


*We do CRB/police checks. Enquire within for details. =D

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Cert. TESOL - Week 4 - When Freedom Comes Knocking

IT IS DONE!

I scrounged and struggled and clawed my way through it, but I finally got there and now I am officially qualified to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Get in!

My apologies for the delay. I've spent the last few days recovering from the overload of work and deadlines and lesson planning and lesson delivery during Week 4. Thus, after celebrating with colleagues on Friday and Saturday, I spent some time with myself and my Playstation and my laptop.

What can I say about Week 4? It should have been the bitch really as the amount of work I had during Week 3 was ridonkulous. But after deciding that my mentality was going to be "get it done and do it quickly", by Tuesday, I had pretty much sorted myself out in terms of deadlines and only had lesson planning to worry about. 

This was the week I'd been dreading because Matt was going to be assessing me during my lessons and Matt was the one I'd talked about in my last entry - the one who systematically ripped my colleague's lesson plan apart even before she'd taught it. So this was playing on my mind a great deal because after observing a few of the other lessons, I knew that the content I'd selected was waaaay too easy for this class. I progressed anyway - got through it - and another merit! Whoopdedo!

I think that come the end of the week, I was ready for it to end. The final hurdle for all of us was to be moderated by a moderator from the awarding body - Trinity College. I had expressly asked to be moderated on Saturday because my final lesson was on Friday, but what irritated me the most was that I was the very last person to be moderated that day.

Ultimately, it's one of the four assignments that is moderated externally. We had to pick two materials that we'd used during lessons - one good, one bad. I was wobbly with this because while my bad one was a piece of crap, my good one was just 'okay'. Thus, this, coupled with the fact that I was last made me uneasy. I watched as people would go in and come out and how a weight had been lifted off of their shoulders. And then there was me - twiddling my thumbs - waiting for my turn when all I just wanted was to get in, get out and be free.

Freedom came eventually, however, and about an hour later, we were all given the good news. I was ecstatic and afterwards, we went for pancakes before going home and coming back out again for a good old knees up at one of my colleagues' homes.

It feels weird that I no longer have to go back there for my input sessions in the morning and my teacher practice in the afternoon. I no longer have any cause to barrage Carl with e-mails. I owe Sophia my life because she literally pulled me out of my shell. Standing on chairs became my 'thing' - my way of drawing attention to myself - and now I don't feel so nervous in front of a class anymore; a royal contrast to the way I felt when I first started teaching.

So the first stage has been completed. I've got my qualification (the certificate should surface in November at some point) and now I can go teach the world.

My advice to anyone about this course? Do it. It's bloody hard. There's always work to be done so put your life on hold. You will have your ups and your downs. You will cry. You will laugh. You will meet some awesome people. The tutors won't hold your hand in the slightest. They'll tell it to you straight, but by the end of it you'll be a better person and a better teacher ready to take on the world by storm..


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Cert.TESOL - Week 3 - When Crunch-Time Comes Knocking

Week 3 Down!

I can’t believe I actually got through it. I spent the entire weekend last week freaking out about the one hour lessons. I was so very used to the teacher I’d had observing me in the previous week, that the concept of changing teachers – and changing classes – frightened me quite a lot. But I wasn’t due to teach my one hour lessons until the end of the week so I had time, which I was very grateful for.

A few new things happened to me this week. I actually managed to pre-prepare a lesson a day in advance. So, that’s either, a significant improvement – or a divine fluke. I had never experienced actually being ready for a lesson twenty-four hours in advance and it felt quite good.

At the same time, however, I had a major freak-out the day before that lesson when a colleague of mine told me how badly she’d been treated by one of the other teachers and how he had virtually told her that her lesson was a fail even before she’d taught it. This rattled me a great deal as I have this teacher observing me this coming week. I went home bricking it, but fortunately, I had two people on standby to put me back on track that night. The following day, one of them helped me go through my lesson before I taught it and even though my lesson was highly ambitious, I got through it and was awarded a merit. :D

At that stage, I felt very good. I went home smiling to myself and then proceeded to work on my next lesson. I penned about half of it that night and then penned the rest and its materials the day before I was due to have my lesson. So perhaps, I am improving. It took me days to plan my first thirty-minute lesson and even on the day, I wasn’t fully prepared. Now, it seems that I might be able to plan a full hour in three-to-four hours instead. The quality of the lesson, however, is debatable.

But while I seem to be getting to grips with lesson planning and being more comfortable in front of the class, this weekend is actually no joke. I’m used to having deadlines every day, but this weekend, I have triple the workload and the only reason why I’m able to write this blog entry is because I managed to pen my one-on-one lesson with my student who I am due to meet up with in two hours.

As part of this course, we’re assigned a foreign language student. We have to interview them, do a thorough evaluation of their language needs, do a one hour lesson with them and evaluate the progress of that lesson. I will have to write up that evaluation tonight in addition to writing up an overall evaluation of all the professional lessons I’ve watched, in addition to writing up an evaluation of progress from start to now, in addition to penning a lesson for Wednesday.

And that’s not even half of it….


This is just what I’ve set myself for today. So I’m telling you, it really is crunch time. Carl says that there are no more extensions this week. And even though I’ve never requested an extension yet, I’m really starting to feel it – contemplating how I’m going to get time to do everything asked of me by Thursday and still plan two lessons for next week.

But we’ve all been there. In university, I’d have friends dancing around me, panicking a few hours before an essay deadline because they hadn’t done any work. They all thought I had some manner of super-intelligence because I would often submit my essays or projects a week or so in advance. But I know that it wasn't genius at all. I just wanted it done! I didn’t want to look at it anymore and it’s the same way I feel now. I just want it done. And I know that by putting words onto paper with no real thought is a big risk – I do care that I pass after all - but I  just don’t want to look at the work anymore.

With a course like this, however, I don’t think you can afford to take your time over things. And I’m not saying that you should slack off, I’m saying you literally just don’t have the time. Because really and truly, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to slave over one piece of work when you got five more breaking down your bedroom door. It’s like an office mentality – get it done, be concise and do it quickly.

So my advice for anyone looking to do this course is, if you’re a procrastinator, you will struggle. Your teachers might be nice enough to give you extensions when they can, but it’s much better if you get yourself into gear or forget about doing the course in its entirety. I know of at least four people in the original line-up who couldn’t hack it. Two dropped off the course completely, one transferred to part time and incurred a fee and the other was unfortunate to fall ill and will be joining the next group.

I didn’t have much of a life before this course and during, I’ve spent a great deal of time in my living room with my laptop and classroom notes. It’s hard work, it’s brain and time-consuming, it’s sleep-draining, but in seven days I’m hoping to be two certificates heavier.

Wish me luck.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Cert.TESOL - Week 2 - When Delusions Come Knocking


So, I’m on my way home after a very long, very strenuous and very emotional week and as I’m standing in the crowded carriage dying to find my way home, I notice a fly buzzing about overhead. Now flies don’t bother me much (unless they’re hovering over food – or terrifying my friends) and how a fly managed to cycle safely through a carriage full of hot, sweaty workmen and women desperate to get home, I’ll never know. But ultimately, after swanning around, it settled onto the hand of a man standing in front of me. And rather than my first reaction being – how is it that this man cannot feel this beetle crawling all over him - I started to consider that maybe this was the part where it bit him and that tomorrow, he’d become England’s very own Spiderman.

Don’t worry. I haven’t lost my mind. I am, however, functioning on just three hours sleep and it is something that I have never done before. It does not compute how it is that I am functioning, but I assure you all that I am very close to nodding off as I write this.

TESOL has taught me a lot this week and it goes a lot deeper than lessons on grammar and lesson planning in general...

~

I believe the collocation* is delusions of grandeur.

For me, it would be ‘delusions of failure’. I’ve always had an issue with failing and it’s something that helps to define me as a person. Ultimately, however, I taught for the first time in my life this week and it was incredibly nerve-wracking. As part of the course, you need to teach six hours worth of lessons. I taught four lots of thirty minute lectures – so two hours ultimately. I thought that my first lesson went horribly. I taught prepositions and had been driving myself up the wall with worry as to how I would go about it. The lesson took me four days to plan, I criticised the hell out of myself and was awarded a merit**.

On my second teaching practice day, I hated my lesson and it showed. I was all over the place, dropping pens and constantly referring to my notes. In fact, I was so nervous that I kept thinking that the deodorant that I’ve been using for the past ten years – that has never failed me once – had actually stopped working. I was so disappointed in myself and reached an all time low. I criticised the hell out of my lesson and yet by some fluke, still managed to pass. For my third and fourth lessons, the same pattern emerged leading me to feel that truly I am my own worst enemy. I still say my lesson today was too easy for even pre-intermediate students – students who make you feel like you’re trying to draw blood out of a rock at times - but I managed to get through it and I’m so very grateful for the weekend even though I have a mountain of work to do.

Delusion Number One: I am a failure.

~

After teaching, we have a feedback session, where we all give each other positive and constructive criticism in order to help each other better ourselves. The tutor supervises and it’s all pretty well constructed. During my second lesson, however, I was so disappointed in myself that I broke down and made a fool of myself. Everyone was relatively sympathetic and as I mentioned earlier, the constant theme that rises during my feedback sessions is that I’m way too hard on myself. On the day of my third lesson, however, the printer broke down, meaning that the entire class was running around like headless chickens trying to find a way to print off work. I managed to print off most of what I needed and launched into my lesson, but a colleague of mine had a terrific breakdown and disappeared halfway through even though she was due to teach that day. On the same day, another colleague of mine received a low grade and went home feeling so down with herself that she emailed me expressing her desire to quit.

Now, I’m not the most sympathetic person. I tend to look at things logically at times and find it difficult to feel genuine sympathy at times even if I do identify. I mean, seriously, if a body fell from the sky and landed in front of me – after about two or three seconds of raw surprise, I’d probably phone an ambulance. A normal woman would probably have a seizure.

But both these colleagues felt completely at ease in confiding in me. And even though, it was strange for me, I held hands, hugged people in their time of need and offered encouraging words. Genuine as well. And I think, after this week, I’ve developed a few bonds in this place – people who I am genuinely grateful for and who I look forward to talking to, and who I don’t mind hugging even though two weeks ago we were perfect strangers. And even though, I don’t “awww” or twist my face into some method on console, I think I’ve discovered that in my own ‘logical’ way, I can identify with people on an emotional level and not just on the level of self-pity which I’m used to.

This therefore, brings me to this:

Delusion Number Two: I lack empathy

~

Now, I know for a fact that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But you do. I do. We all do. We look at someone and think we know them based on their manner or the way they dress. We stereotype and make assumptions and this’ll usually define the way we behave towards them. You’re not gonna introduce yourself to the scrappy little vagabond who’s sitting by himself downing a large bottle of whisky at the party, are you? You’re gonna try and steal a glance at (or, if you’re brave, chat to) the cute/handsome/strapping/tall/leggy/busty…etc little something in the centre of the room.

At my school, we get people from all walks of life. I hear Spanish and Italian floating along the halls mostly and just like people in general, some are very nice and others go about their business. During my teaching practice lessons, I was pretty convinced that I could identify where everyone was from just by looking at them. I immediately expected that most students were from Europe. There was a guy with long hair that resembled a Columbian guy I used to work with. I tagged him as Spanish. Then, there was a rocker guy that always wore a set of headphones - thin frame, long hair - I tagged him as Japanese. Well, Spanish guy was actually from Thailand. And the Japanese guy was Peruvian. And all those European students were indeed Spanish speakers – all of whom were from South America.

Mind was blown.

Delusion Number Three: I know everything.

~

Just being on this course has opened my eyes to different things because as I may have mentioned in the past. I am completely out of my comfort zone. I'm an introvert by nature. I don't mind spending time alone. I have only a handful of people who I consider to be 'friend' - and I mean, truly - and I'm not as close to my family as I could be. This course has pretty much forced me in reverse. I can't hide in the back row like I might have done if this course had been shorter and less work-orientated. In fact, I actually don't want to. I talk to people a lot more and speak up in class even if my answers are incorrect.

I'm still a little uneasy, however. Don't worry. My confidence hasn't just materialised out of thin air. Standing in front of a class trying to elicit language and facing silence is still a bit of a fear for me. And next week, I'm planning hour-long lessons for different classes, which equally makes mel feel a little out of sorts because of what I've heard about these groups. Nevertheless, I'm gonna try and persevere anyway. I've said it myself. I'm already halfway there. Can't quit now.

Thus...

Delusion Number Four: I'm out of my depth


*a lexical term. Go TEFL.
**Can be fairly difficult to obtain. Obtaining a merit overall is by means of some unknown force for a newbie teacher.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Cert.TESOL - Week 1 - When Sleep Comes Knocking

This week, I started my Cert.TESOL course. I recall that it was a Tuesday morning and I was feeling relatively neutral. In my head, I was thinking that I was going to be the youngest one there for some reason. Maybe it was because the guy who interviewed me – let’s call him Matt - commented on the fact that I was young. Guess it made me think that he hadn’t taught younger people before. Silly rabbit.

When I got there, however, I came to find a variety of people. I haven’t actually asked anybody their ages but most of us are young with a few people who look to be over the age of thirty. There were a few uni graduates too and what was astounding was that a lot of them spoke all kinds of different languages. I was jealous. Spanish, Italian, French – I don’t even like French – but I wanted what they had; a window into another culture.

We have three teachers, including Matt, but aside from one lesson where I observed him teaching a class of foreign students, I haven’t seen him much. Out of all three of our teacher’s however, he intimidates me the most for some reason and I’m not sure why. He’s actually quite funny. When I observed him teaching, he had quite a way with the students. But he’s also, one of those guys who knows when to be serious as well. I respect this; I’m similar in that nature. But I still feel uneasy. I guess we’ll see what happens next week.

The guy who has been teaching us however, is equally funny. Let’s call him Carl. Carl can speak Japanese. You can also, tell his very passionate about phonetics which was a huge part of the course content this week. Some of the other students feel that Carl can be a bit cold, but I haven’t noticed that about him. Whenever I’ve attacked him with my questions, he’s always been okay to me so either I’m missing something or those other students are too sensitive…and this is coming from me as well.

The week was focused on phonetics – as mentioned earlier – teaching techniques and lesson planning, being put into the shoes of students through learning an unknown language and observing the professional lessons of Matt, Carl and our third teacher, Sophia. It was a lot of information, but for some reason, a great deal of it managed to sink in. I think it’s because a lot of it was interactive instead of having a teacher stand at the front and talk at me. Ah, university. The good ol’ days.

The only thing that baffled me a little was Concept Checking, which I’ve got to understand by tomorrow evening as I start my teaching practice next week. HOHSHIT!

As I’m being thrown out of my comfort zone, I make it my business to sit in a different place in class every day so I can speak to different people. I would highly recommend this for a course like this. Everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone’s feeling the same emotions and it cements the group more. So as antisocial as I can be at times, I’m saying “don’t be an outcast”. Integrate. It’s a good thing. My class is currently seventeen strong nonetheless. One girl dropped out, however, and one guy started late. I seriously feel for him because he didn’t have a laptop and we’ve had assignments to do every night. So he’s had to catch up.

And I tell thee…the homework is no joke. I’ve had a minimum of two assignments per night – three on the Wednesday evening – and per evening, I spent about five hours on them. Each night, my sleep has been on a steep decline and even as I write this, it feels like work.

 But then I’m extra and a bit of a perfectionist. I spoke with other people and they spent no more than three hours on their work per evening. Some even woke up in the morning to get on with their work. So I guess it’s true what they say – Every Situation Is Different.

Therefore,  my advice to you today is that if you intend to do this course or the CELTA or anything like it and you like your sleep, forget about it.

You will sleep less.

You will work hard.

And hopefully it’ll all be worth it in the end.