Remembering my early years of teaching.

Bess, Sandy and Roy.

If we find comfort in Jesus and His love then let us have joy and a humble attitude with each other. Looking after each others reputations. ( All Sandy’s understanding)

Philippians 2:1-4

I was working with experienced teachers mostly university graduates and teacher trained in Britain. It could work to my advantage that I was young and had a lot of empathy for and with my students. It could also work against me because I wasn’t British. They however, found it hard to place my accent, which was Rhodesian.

When I first started I was given the reading and writing, and the listening and speaking classes to make up a full number of hours. I remember the classes being up to 15 in number. It was a time when many young people were coming to learn English in Britain. The writing class was something I found conflicting in those early days. I was interested in what they were trying to tell me and their content but it was expected that I correct every mistake and take marks off, which lead to bland stuff. The speaking and listening classes also had a laboratory session where students could learn through repetition and do listening comprehensions at their own speed. This was a challenge in the beginning but I learnt to work with groups there too and share my time.

This must have lasted a year but then sadly the lady who was in charge developed symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. (Multiple Sclerosis is caused by your immune system mistakenly attacking the brain and nerves) This was daunting for her, sometimes she couldn’t move her legs and other times she could. So worrying in an enthusiastic talented teacher. She then took a less demanding role and I was given my own Intermediate Language group.

This was a book based course, RobertO’Neil’s Kernel Lessons. It has a strong grammar based structure . It taught me and suited most students but I remember a Dutch taxi driver saying: “Sandy our class is better when we go off road.” They took me off road! Some classes were better at it but we covered the work and they did improve.

I remember one particular group a challenge. At Roy’ s suggestion we took them for a picnic. I was good at making carrot cakes and I made many but for this picnic the cake turned out flat and oily. I was ready to say: ” I don’t like this group, I can’t even do what I can do!” I remember Roy coming into the kitchen and he baked one. Many of the students had cars , we did two trips and we all sat under a very large oak tree near the Blacknest gate in Windsor Park. The students got to like each other and if they didn’t like me , it mattered little. They were happier in class . Much happened in those classes. I blushed alot but they did learn.

Here are some things people have said about learning a language:

” Do you know what a foreign accent is? It is a sign of bravery .”

Amy Chua (American lawyer, legal scholar and writer)

That is what learning is . You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life , but in a new way.

Doris Lessing (1919-2013 British-Zimbabwean novelist)

It is astounding how much enjoyment you can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly.

Basil Lanneau (1831- 1924 Anerican classical scholar)

Thank you for letting me share my early memories of teaching English as a foreign language.

Sandy šŸ™‚

4 thoughts on “Remembering my early years of teaching.

  1. Oh, I love the quote “Do you know what a foreign accent is? It is a sign of bravery.” Makes me think about how brave it is for anyone to leave their country for the promises of a better future.


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