"Where exactly is TEFL, my dear?", I was once memorably asked. I was giving a talk entitled "My Life in TEFL" at a local club in Oxford and all the attendees came from different walks of life, none from the TEFL sector, so this question did not really come as a surprise.
Well, TEFL is where my heart has taken me. It's in my blood. It's a universal place. It has no boundaries, no discrimination, no age limit. Everyone has become a part of this unique and all-encompassing world.
September 1979 is a very special month and year for me. I began my teaching life in Madrid, 30 years ago. I cannot believe how fast the time has flown. I have honestly enjoyed every single year of my professional career as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. I have not wanted to do any other job nor been tempted to give it up at any stage of my life. It has truly been dominated by TEFL and I am very proud to still be here, doing what I love. The past year has been a mixture of studying and teaching, both F2F and online, interspersed with settling down in the beautiful region of Abruzzo.
Inspired by Karenne Sylvester's post called "What's a TEFL teacher?", I would like to go down memory lane and mention 30 reasons why I love TEFL. One reason for each year.
- I gives me a buzz, even after all these years
- It keeps me on my toes
- It's taken me to the most amazing places
- I have met incredible students, teachers, directors and school staff.
- I met my hubby -K
- I have had the priviledge of working for the amazing Lake School of English for over 20 years
- I have learned so much from my peers
- I have taught angelic 6-year-olds in Fuerteventura
- I have danced the twist with Sister Carla, a lovely nun from Italy
- I have taught a 70-year-old Japanese retired businessman in a class of teenagers
- I have taught 3 Libyan brothers in the same class
- I have eaten fresh fish caught by my fisherman student in Fuerteventura
- I was given a lifelong battery as a parting gift from my Thai student- I still have it!
- I have smashed plates in a taverna after drinking Metaxa with my class in Patras
- I have created many worksheets connected to slang, my fave topic!
- I have attended many fascinating conferences
- I have met fellow TEFLers and educators around the world
- I have taught FCE to 50 students in one term in Greece
- I have sung Karaoke with my students in Oxford
- I have 3 albums (retrieved today from Box 75) containing photos from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000-. I will treasure these forever- my link to the imminent future past
- I have made life-long friends with some of my students
- I have taught English as an existential subject to a young Italian university student interested in philosophy (I gemmed up on Nietsche and Sartre for the lessons)
- I have taught Shakespeare English to Yokko, a Japanese student and now a dear friend. We read through chunks of plays and discussed scenes at great length.
- I had fun using a Bandar machine back in 1979 (no photocopiers in those days!
- I have experienced many teaching styles, but realised it's all a circle! Trends come and go and are recycled with time
- I started my teaching career with "Briam's Complementary English Grammar" an in-house publication which I used in Madrid. It is on my bookshelf now. I am so glad I kept it.
- I had a Stasi member in each of my classes in Dresden. I was strictly forbidden to discuss politics, the monarchy and religion in my lessons.
- I smuggled in a copy of "Animal Farm" and "1984" for Uli in the GDR. If caught, I would have been duly expelled from the country. I will never forge the adrenalin rush I experienced when crossingthe East German border at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.
- I have dressed up as a cocktail "Pink Flamingo" on one of the many brilliant parties at the Lake School of English.
- I have been a mentor for newer teachers and loved every minute.
My TEFL Future?
Where will TEFL lead me to next? I don't know. It is an ever evolving world, one which is at times frighteningly fast. I feel I am hanging on, but only just. It takes a lot of determination to remain in one job for most of one's life, but if it's the right choice and you love it, then it makes things much easier.
I would like to say a BIG thank you to everyone who has shared my life in TEFL, everyone who has helped me along the way, especially all my lovely students, all my fantastic co-teachers, all my wonderful bosses, all my kind mentors,all my new online colleagues, wherever you may be. Cheers!!!