Interviews in Spain!

I almost missed this month again, I have been so busy it’s unbelievable. I finished at summer camp and I was sad to go, but I have got the email addresses of a couple of the teachers I got on with really well, I can’t believe how many new friends I’ve made in such a short time.

I met John and Lynne in London, we had such a laugh. Lynne is going out to France next week and it’s working out well with her boyfriend. John started his adventure yesterday, so I have to keep up with him now on Facebook.

And, me? Well I sent loads of CV‘s out to schools on the coast of Granada and the Costa Del Sol, all the places are about an hour or so along the coast from Malaga. I got three interviews and I went over for the weekend.

I felt really confident and I know that was down to getting the TEFL certificate and doing the voluntary teaching. It’s hard to imagine that only 5 months ago I was reading TEFL course reviews and pushing myself to make such a big change in my life.

Do you know what, I used to continually think about my ex and now I hardly ever think of him, even when the kids mention his name, I don’t jump any more, not only do I feel stronger, but I am so excited about the future.

The interviews went well, although I didn’t much like one of the schools, but it was good to see how different schools work. None of them cared that I wasn’t fresh out of university, which was worrying me, they said they liked the fact that I had plenty of life skills and that I had grown up children. They were very interested in my voluntary placement experience and I said that I couldn’t fault it when I wrote the review and I felt it was a valuable experience. 

Back in England on the mat was a letter postmarked ‘Spain’ I tore it open immediately and there was what I had been waiting for - a job offer! A nine month contract from October to June teaching in the afternoons from 4pm until 9.30pm from Monday to Friday.

Claire is a couple of hours away, so we can get together some weekends, which is perfect, I got on the phone to her I was just so thrilled and I feel grateful to her that she recommended that I do a course.

Three days later and I had given my notice, luckily I only needed to give a week. Everyone at work was very supportive and they bought me an e-reader as a leaving present! Within a week I was back out in Spain looking for an apartment, I want one with a nice balcony where I can sit outside in the mornings and read. “Vamos a Ver”, as they say in Spain, “let’s see”…

TEFL qualified – I can’t believe it

The certificate arrived this morning, now I can really start to look for work. First of all though I want to do a voluntary placement.  The TEFL Academy have a lot of contacts for places and I told them that I wanted to do a two week placement. I can’t do any more because I haven’t got any more time off work.

I logged on to the Student Advice Centre on the academy’s blog. They have got advice there about teaching voluntarily abroad, but to be honest I want to stay in the UK and there’s not much information about that, so I had to ring them. The information on the advice page is useful though and I spent a while browsing through the questions and answers about different topics, not just voluntary work.

TEFL Academy rang back yesterday, it didn’t take them long. I have been offered a placement in a Summer Camp, a couple of miles from where I live, they said they have students from Europe and Asia and they have lessons in the mornings and then they spend the afternoons playing sports or sightseeing. I am absolutely terrified – I start on Monday!

Well, I have been here a week and it’s flown by. The first day was really nerve wracking, but I had an experienced teacher to sit in with me. At the end of the morning, she said I had done really well and that I was perfectly capable of taking the classes alone.

There are six other teachers and I am on voluntary placement with another young girl called Lucy. The other teachers are great, they are friendly and offer loads of tips, we have a laugh during the coffee breaks.

I am teaching the kids basic vocabulary, like colours, numbers, body parts and greetings. I haven’t been finishing too soon and we have played games like hangman, so they learn the alphabet and word search, which they love. Some of them are a bit homesick, bless them, but I tell them that being here is a great opportunity that they won’t forget.

I have also completed my CV and spoken to Claire, she wants me to go to her part of Spain, but I quite like the idea of going somewhere different. I have been reading about a place called Almuñecar, which is on the coast of Granada. There are language schools there and there also seems to be an ex-pat community, which might be useful if I get lonely.

I think I will send some CVs off in the post as soon as I get back from camp. I hope I haven’t left it too late, but I really wanted to get this voluntary placement under my belt, so that I had a taste of what teaching by myself would be like. I don’t know why I was so frightened, it’s great.

Update Update Update

Yes diary, sorry I know I have missed a month, but I’ve been so busy. The course is good, but I decided that I wanted to finish it quickly after all, so I have had to spend all my spare time studying.

The grammar hasn’t been easy for me. I haven’t studied in such a long time, but I am lucky to have Claire, who recommended some good grammar books,  I’ve got one called How English Works by Swan & Walter, which is a really good book to practice grammar and I got another book called Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener which tells you a lot about the classroom environment.

 It is amazing how much comes back to you. The thing about teaching it is that you have to be able to explain why and how we use words, for instance, the present tense and the present perfect - I use them without thinking, so it’s been interesting to learn how and why they are used. Still, I do need to concentrate, but in a good way.

As well as grammar the course covers word stress, phonetics, word order and tenses.  I can’t believe that one day I am going to be teaching this to other people, it is exciting but daunting at the same time. I am more worried about the timing of the classes, I don’t want to go too fast and then have nothing to do, Claire says I needn’t worry it will come after a few lessons and she’s advised me to take some extra worksheets or learn a few word games to play, in case I do finish too early, or to finish the last 5 minutes or so of the class doing something that’s fun.

The teaching Academy sent us an email asking about our experience at the weekend course and I had no hesitation about giving them a good review. They said to tell the truth and I did and to be honest I couldn’t find fault with the course. Some people said they wanted there to be more than one weekend course per month in each location, but I didn’t find it a problem waiting until the end of the month, I think some people are just in a rush to start.

I have kept in touch with John  and Lynne and they are doing well too, I think we are going to finish at the same time, so we have decided to meet up to celebrate in London, so that will be nice. John is already planning his route and Lynne has given up her job ready for her move to France, she’s already invited me to go and stay with her and her boyfriend!

 I am also thinking about doing a voluntary placement when I have finished because I think it will be a good thing to have on my CV, experience is always useful.   I’ll be back!!!

Back to education…

Wow! I feel really good about myself. Not only did I learn a lot on the weekend course, but it really gave my confidence a huge boost.

I was terrified the first day, I almost didn’t get out of the car. Thank goodness I did though, because it was a really useful experience. The course trainer was excellent, she really helped to break the ice and we all got to know each other during the class exercises and during the breaks.

I didn’t have to worry about being the granny, there were people from all different age groups, including a guy called John, who was a similar age to me, but he was retired. He said he loves travelling and he wants to go on around the world trip, teaching as he goes. There were a couple of university students, who want to travel for a year before they settle down to the world of work in the UK.

Then there was a girl called Lynne in her early thirties, she can speak French and she has met a French guy in London and she wants to settle down with him in France. She wants to be able to work though, in case it doesn’t work out with her boyfriend, but if it does, she said she’d like to open her own school in the future.

Everybody was really enthusiastic and friendly. I was so nervous when it was my turn to stand up and do some proper teaching practice, I thought my legs would give way from under me, but after the first few minutes I relaxed and began to enjoy it. Everyone clapped when I’d finished and said I was good.

It was also great to watch how the others worked. John was really good at drawing and he did loads of funny cartoons to get his point across, which I thought was really effective. Lynne was quite theatrical and she said she would like to use drama in her teaching. It was also useful to learn about lesson planning and how to use your time, so that you didn’t finish your lessons too quickly or go on too long!

We’ve all swopped emails and Skype addresses, so that we can keep in touch when we start our online work, I think it will be a great idea to have some support and to swop ideas.

I was sad when the weekend had finished it was much better than I imagined and I feel that I learned a lot. I definitely think that I want to be a teacher and I know for sure now that this is the direction I want to take.

Claire was really pleased when I told her, although I did say that I was worried about my lack of artistic skills if the kids wanted to see illustrations or copy drawings, but she said I can use magazines or get pictures off the internet. Thank god for that, I can’t draw for toffee!   

I’m going to be a teacher!

I am so excited, I have made some big scary decisions, but I just know that they are right ones! I have decided to move over to Spain and I want to teach English like Claire. So for the past few weeks I have been trawling the internet, reading forums and checking out the best way to do a TEFL course.

There are a few intensive courses that you could do in a month, but you need to be able to get a month straight off work, or give up your job, which I can’t do and, they are fairly expensive. I am not sure I want to do the whole thing in a month either, I would rather have the choice of doing it quickly or at a more leisurely pace, just in case I find it too complicated.

I told Claire, she was thrilled and said that she would make a list of all the schools in the area round her, if that’s where I decided to settle, so that I could send my CV off to them once I had taken the course. I said “hang on, maybe I won’t be any good”, but she said I would be fine.

Anyway, eventually I came across the website of The TEFL Academy (came company Claire used), they have a course that lets you do the studying online, which will suit me because I can do it in the evenings and at weekends. Plus there’s a weekend class practice included, which will teach me about being in the classroom and as it’s over the weekend I don’t lose any time off work. I looked at the reviews and they all seemed positive.

The web site says they have weekend courses all over the country and when I looked there’s one near me, so that’s another plus, I won’t have to spend a fortune travelling either. The website looks professional and they are accredited, which means they have to provide courses of a good standard. I am going to give them a ring first and see how friendly they are over the phone.

I can’t believe that after all these years I’m going back to school! Yes, I’ve done it – I’ve signed up for the course and I am going on the weekend class course at the end of this month. They were very helpful when I spoke to them, which is important to me. If they had been unfriendly I wouldn’t have signed up.  I told the kids and they think it’s an excellent idea and so do my friends, so I am feeling really positive about it.

The weekend course will give me a good idea as to whether I have made the right choice, the only thing I am worried about is being the granny of the group, but I suppose people of all ages change careers, anyway, I’ve paid for it now, so there’s no going back!

Time flies…

I can’t believe a month has passed since my last blog. What’s happened? Well, I went to see Claire in Spain and I had a brilliant time.

The place where she lives is only an hour from the airport along the coast road. It was lovely to see the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean and La Duquesa has a pretty horseshoe shaped bay with a tiny port.

Claire has a got a lovely apartment overlooking the sea and she can walk to work from where she lives. There’s plenty of shops and bars, but it isn’t really busy, it’s just right. She has a great life out there, she works every afternoon from 4 till 8 and 3 mornings from 10 to midday and the rest of her day is free, so we had plenty of time together, even though she was working.

I went to the school with her. She had told her pupils that I was coming and they had planned a question and answer session, so that they could practice speaking. It was a lot of fun. There were ten children who were in their last year of primary school and they were really friendly and enthusiastic.

They asked me my name and where I lived, what work I did and what was my favourite food and drink. They also asked me about my hobbies, my family and who my favourite actor was.

Afterwards they all said thank you and kissed me on both cheeks, it was such a lovely atmosphere, Claire said that most classes are like that and that the kids are well behaved and love learning.

I asked her how she had found her way into teaching, after working for so long in an office and she said that when she first came to Spain, she had joined a group of English and Spanish people who met once a week to practice their English and Spanish and one of the woman was an English teacher and recommended the work.

Claire said she did a TEFL course with The TEFL Academy , she read reviews and decided suited her. It taught her how to teach and covered the grammar points and topics she needed to know. Once she passed the course and got her certificate, she looked around for work and managed to find a school who needed maternity cover for two months and then afterwards she had found the job she has now.

She said the hours suit her and if she needs more money, she can take on more private students and the summer holidays give her time to see her family, although she usually works during August with teenage children who haven’t done so well in their English exams at senior school and study for their re-takes in September.

I loved my time there, I need to think about what I want to do with my life… Maybe when I get home I’ll have a browse through the internet and read some reviews about courses.

Its my birthday….

It’s my birthday and I almost didn’t open Facebook.  I woke up miserable. My first birthday as a single woman…well divorced to be honest. I don’t want to be divorced and 48, but I am, so I’ve decided to open Facebook and see if any of my friends have posted anything.

Well, all my friends remembered and the kids too, so it was nice to read them all, but there was one message I wasn’t expecting from my old friend Claire Carter. It’s been a long time since I heard from her, she went away years ago, she’s divorced as well, but when she split up from husband she went abroad I think. I read the message, “Happy Birthday Sue, sorry I haven’t been touch before, but I lost your address and I looked for you on Facebook, but I couldn’t find you and then today I did – How’s that for luck? Let me know how are you’re keeping.”

So, I replied and told her all about Ray leaving and the divorce and having to sell the house and I’m living in my daughter Emily’s house, while she’s in Australia with her husband on a job placement. Actually she’s coming back in June, so I should start thinking about looking for my own place.

I also told her that I’m now working part-time in the local supermarket and that I like it, it’s not my ideal job, but after 15 years of not working because of bringing up the kids, I was really nervous about getting back into the workplace, but I think I’m back in the saddle now.

Claire told me she is living on the Costa del Sol, in a small place called La Duquesa, just along from Marbella. She used to go on holiday to Spain a lot and I remembered that she said that she had always wanted to live out there, so she must have taken the opportunity after she got divorced. She used to work in an office, in the accounts department, but she says now she’s working as an English teacher, which she says she loves. She works in a private language school teaching kids in the afternoon and three mornings a week she has private adult students at home.

Anyway, she wants us to catch up and she’s invited me to come and stay with her, so I’ve decided to seize the moment and go.  I have booked a week off work and I’m going in two weeks. It will be lovely to see Claire again and I am looking forward to visiting that part of Spain because I have never been there before. I am also curious about her job.