Archive for January, 2011

Weekend II

January 30, 2011

The Weekend so far:

Slept in yesterday.

Read blog posts (really need to curb that!)

Went out for walk.

Had tapas.  Boy watched match.  I studied my beginner’s Arabic grammar book.

Had a nice piece of cake.

Watched old Simpsons episodes on DVD.

Woke up today.  Felt unwell.

My stomach has confirmed to me that the tapas were below par.  I am not complaining.  I didn’t like the look of that meat.  Still, it wasn’t exactly Michelin star cuisine.  I’d still go back, but not eat it if it looks/smells slightly strange.

Today, whilst nursing my digestive system, I’ve studied some more Arabic and finally moved on to verbs (there’s a whole load of random grammatical rules to expose yourself to regarding plurals, dual plurals, possessives, when to use “al” (for “the”) etc.  These things are very complicated.  I still don’t know them 100%.  Then, there’s that lovely minor issue that I’ve never had to deal with in French, Spanish and Portuguese before (a little bit with Romanian, but I’ve long forgotten the few chapters I studied of that.) of cases.  Hurrah!

So, having crucified my brain, I’m now learning how to say sentence WITH A VERB!  Very exciting.

I also managed to read a bit of Adrian Mole to keep part of me back in Britain.

So it’s been an okay and enjoyable, if not very exciting, weekend.



January 30, 2011

Today I’ve been selfish and done what I have wanted to do for a while: got the Arabic grammar book out and learnt a few new things, or rather remembered a few things that I have read on and off for a few years.  It was nice to do something for personal development for a change.

And now I shall leave and enjoy the rest of my weekend.


Five Months On

January 30, 2011

I’ve managed to keep away from things EFL related today apart from blogs.  I do have an addiction, but I hope this all counts as CPD.

So, what’s going through my mind?  The job, for one.  I might attend a conference in a couple of months.  We’ll have to wait and see.  I have mixed feelings about my involvement in these things, as they can cost a fair bit if you have to travel.  I have a reasonable income for the sector I am in, but it’s not a fantastic salary in general terms.  I don’t spend a lot in Spain other than my rent, bills and food and bus fare, but we want to try and save for a rainy day.

I realise I have a tendency to moan about most things, but I’m thankful for my job.  I spoke to some attendees at a workshop I went to last week and I got talking to some new people.  Some of them are working in an academy that rejected me last May.  I also met a lady on my Christmas flights who is working for an organisation who offered me a summer job last year which I rejected.  It seems that there are organisations who are a lot less fair to their employees than mine.

At my academy, we work around 23-24 hours a week and get paid similar to those who work 25+ hours.  We get breaks between classes.  I hate the administration, but it’s not an unreasonable amount compared to other academies.  It’s a normal amount of work.  The stress I experience is part and parcel of learning my trade.  If I wanted to be relaxed, I could be, but I want to improve, so I place stress on myself.  We never have to work weekends and only one of us works mornings.  The boss encourages us to attend local workshops.  We don’t have to wear a uniform and we get given our books for the year.  I work all the time in the same centre, which means no travelling from place to place.  We do have to use a course book, which is both a blessing and a curse.  The boss is an ELT professional with a post-graduate diploma, so she knows what she’s talking about.  The things that annoy me about the place are not hugely important and things I’ve got used to.  So, five months in, I am pleased that I was offered this job.  It was the only post I was offered, which meant no difficult decisions to make.

Time for Something Positive

January 26, 2011

On Saturday I attended a workshop organised by TEFL del Sur.  Rather than inviting speakers to give a talk, the participants led an activity or several each to demonstrate something they use in class.  I didn’t get a chance to (my fault for not getting in there, but if anyone wants to know what I was planning, it was my folded paper game  I blogged about before Christmas.  I’ve since used a few ideas, particularly warmers and tried to deviate.  I’ve definitely noticed a better atmosphere in class if I use a simple warmer as suggested by TEFLDUST.  Somehow, it does what it says on the tin and warms the students up so they are more engaged in the trickier work to follow.

I’ve also realised that pair checks and pair work are enormously helpful to a tired teacher.  It basically means that students iron out lots of little problems amongst themselves, then I can help them with the unresolved issues.  This makes the class more engaging for the students and less teacher-centred.  I know that pair work should not be a new concept to me, and it isn’t, but I’ve rediscovered why it works.  I basically was the centre of my class as my students relied on me to answer everything and it was easier to take control.  However, I’ve taken a leap of faith and the students seem so much more engaged for it and I feel less over-worked.

One senior teacher in my old job advised me to leave the classroom for a few minutes when having given a group task.  I’ve tried this a couple of times with one group and it does seem to give them the space to organise their task.  Of course it doesn’t help to decrease the L1 in the classroom, but that’s a different issue.

Protected: When You Wonder If You Did the Right Thing

January 26, 2011

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Protected: Need to Let off Steam

January 26, 2011

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Current Affairs

January 17, 2011

Trying to read news.  Not easy when you’re in a foreign country.  Need to make it one of my obsessions.  Am always good when I am obsessed.  Can make the Chilean minors story on Master Mind.  Now why can’t I do that with international politics?

First Week Back and Happy Birthday to ME!!!

January 15, 2011

I’m sure it comes as not surprise to my readers when I say that, Cadiz, although a sweet, tranquil city in the south of Spain, is not exactly my home from home.  I imagined that living abroad would be about sipping coffee in a Parisienne sort of place, though not Paris, writing and drawing and learning about the philosophers.  To most people, it’s about sunning themselves on a beach.  So, it is with some sad feelings that I found myself returning to Cadiz to resume the school year.  Fortunately, I have a wonderful man who puts up with my downward spiral and makes sure I have all the little pleasures in life that help me feel at home in a strange city.

This week at work has been hard professionally as well as emotionally.  I left before Christmas on a slight high as my boss had giving me some encouraging feedback at the end of my first term teaching full-time.  This week, I came back thinking “What the hell am I going to do with the students for an hour and a half?”  I hadn’t had any illuminating ideas over Christmas as I was just glad of the rest.  This week has been very much about getting through alive.  So I was cursing Christmas for ever having taken me away from an even keel and throwing my onto an emotional roller coaster of happiness quickly followed by anti-climax followed by realising I had forgotten how to teach.  Then, yesterday it was my birthday.  I felt disappointed to be away from my family.  This homesickness after Christmas isn’t just me, by the way.  I’ve spoken to a couple of people who can relate to this come down.  So, last Friday night, I crammed in three beautifully wrapped blue parcels and a couple of cards into my suitcase which were to be opened yesterday.  I wasn’t going to open them.  I was going to wait until today so I could have a day off birthday instead of a work day birthday.  At work, I provided a selection of cakes to be shared by my colleagues at the weekly staff meeting.  The boss hadn’t remembered it was my birthday even though I had mentioned it earlier, so I had to explain why I had brought them in.  Then we got through the working shift with the usual highs and lows until eight thirty when I was struck by a headachey, shoulder/arm stiffness kind of feeling.  We went across to the cafe bar opposite my place of work and had a drink and polished off some more cakes before everyone went their separate ways.

We got home in time for Skype to speak to my lovely parents.  We decided that this was a perfect opportunity to open my presents.  And lovely presents they were.  I got some funny presents of my man including a cow cuddly toy who says “moooo” when you press her belly.  My parents got my a key ring (for when I eventually get my new set of keys!) and a Radley handbag to go with my Radley purse.  My sister got my a very pretty bangle and my grandparents gave me £20 (which I obviously can’t spend until I get home).

It was after that I realised that Mr A was a little gem.  He made my birthday special by coming to get me after work, making sure my friends came over to the pub, hiding my family presents (not so discreetly in a drawer!), singing my happy birthday lots and generally making me feel like a princess all day long.  Today we are going to do the more fun birthday treats like go out and make a cake, but considering yesterday was a work day, he made sure I felt special.

So, today I feel a bit better about the whole being in Cadiz thing.  I will just make the most of it and enjoy the sun, the beaches, try surfing etc.  It’s all a question of getting back into my stride again.  I’ve decided it’s best if I don’t go home for Easter, and just go elsewhere in Spain instead.  I decided this because I don’t want to be homesick again.  I want to get used to it and enjoy the next two terms because, knowing me, I’ll only look back and regret feeling sorry for myself.  Besides, I should be getting a couple of visits this summer.  And, dear readers, where shall I visit in Spain over these few months?

Protected: What I so when I’m not obsessing about teaching.

January 4, 2011

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