TEFL Certified!

25 08 2009
It´s been quite some time since my last blog post. Apologies for those who have been wanting to know what´s going on in my life. Since my last blog post, I have completed my TEFL certification course! All I need to do is turn in my portfolio, and then I get my certificate.

In addition to the TEFL course, I´m taking two add-on courses: one in international exam preparation and another in business English. I´m hoping these extra courses will help me with my job search in the future. It´s good to have these extra certifications, especially when there is a high demand for business English teachers and tutors for exam preparation.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have written two papers and taught a 7am advanced English class for a week. We had to choose which class we wanted to teach, and since nobody wanted to teach the 7am advanced class, I volunteered myself for it. I knew it would be a challenge since we had been practicing on beginner and intermediate speakers. However, life can be more fun if I´m challenged.

Teaching the advanced class was certainly more challenging than I had anticipated. Unfortunately, I do not think it showed my abilities as a teacher. Here´s why. The advanced students are taught here using a method called task-based learning. I, on the other hand, needed to teach my class using a method called EPA (Engage-Practice-Activation). Because of this, I had to change the curriculum completely and make lesson plans from scratch. Other teachers who taught lower classes for the week were able to use the same curriculum that was in their handbooks because the lower classes follow the EPA format. In the long run, this is probably a good thing for me because I got to see what it was really like to plan a lesson when there is nothing to use for framework. Additionally, my students showed up 10-15 minutes late each day, making it hard to get through a lesson. Anyway, that is the reality of teaching, and I´m glad I got to experience it.

What I found really flattering is that some of my students asked me if they could switch into my class. They thought I was an actual teacher at Maximo Nivel, so that felt really good. I had good rapport with several of the students, and I´ll definitely miss that.

My instructors and classmates were awesome. I´ll miss the fun times that we all had in and outside of class. We all went out this past weekend, and it was tons of fun. One night, we went to a karaoke bar, and another night, we had a party at Maximo and then went to a club. We all decided to dress up in 80´s gear on Saturday. Everyone (myself included) made fools of ourselves (especially with my bad dancing), but life´s no fun if you can´t laugh at yourself.

Karaoke

Karaoke

My TEFL Trainers

My TEFL Trainers

Most of the Class + Peruvian Student

Most of the Class + Peruvian Student

Moving to Buenos Aires?

I was offered a job as an English teacher here at Maximo starting in November. At first, I wanted to take the job. However, upon reflection, I don´t think I´m going to take it. The reason is not because I do not like the organization. Maximo is fantastic; I could not have asked for a better place to work.

The reason is Cusco. My love/hate relationship continues with this city, and right now, I think the cons outweigh the pros. The altitude still affects me at times, and the weather is often cold. Additionally, there are so many parasites and viruses that people catch on a daily basis. And finally, I am not attracted to the Cusqueñan men whatsoever. I´ve had to break too many hearts. I´m ready to go to a different city. So, as of right now, I think I´m going to head to Buenos Aires and try to find a job there in mid-late October. I´ve had dreams of living in Buenos Aires for a few months now. Supposedly, the men are more attractive there too! Jobs as English teachers are harder to find there because of more competition, but I´m going to try. If I´m unsuccessful, I´ll probably make my way over to Santiago or Costa Rica, where there are more opportunities, and where the weather is nicer.





TEFL and Kittens!

9 08 2009

TEFL

It´s been quite a week. I love my TEFL class. It´s a lot of work, but it keeps me busy and stimulated. And, I get to use my creativity and enthusiasm to teach. The students are so friendly, and most of them are really motivated to learn. All of the classes are adult classes, except for a few ¨jovenes¨classes. The jovenes (teenagers) are pretty hard to control.

During the week, we had to observe other English teachers teach their classes. We had four observation write-ups due by the end of the week, and we have two more due this week. I taught my first two mini-lessons (20 minutes each) on Monday and Friday. There was a huge improvement between the two lessons.

For my first mini-lesson, I taught the Peruvian students how to play a very basic form of blackjack, but I ran out of time toward the end of the lesson to actually play. There was a lot that I (and the other  TEFL students) needed to improve on. All in all, the first lesson was definitely not as intimidating as I thought, and I was eager to teach my second one.

On Friday, I taught my second mini-lesson. We had to teach the students new vocabulary, so I focused on mansions. I used Michael Jackson´s Neverland Ranch as an example and taught the the words hot tub, ferris wheel, dance floor, recording studio and tennis court. The lesson went well. When I heard my teacher tell me,¨I think you pulled off a good lesson,¨it was music to my ears.

For my next mini-lesson tomorrow, we´re supposed to focus on speaking. So, the students are going to read a dialogue that we create and then make up their own dialogues. On Wednesday, our mini-lessons will focus on reading. The goal of every lesson is to get the students to speak as much as possible. We´re learning various techniques to get them to speak. The more you get them to speak, the better the lesson.

My Teaching Future

If time permits, I´ll start working on my international resume today. It´s quite different from resumes in the U.S. I´m supposed to include my picture, marital status, birthday and nationality. The resume is also much less detailed than the ones in the U.S.

My teachers talked to us about different opportunities in different countries. I´m 100% sure that I will end up somewhere in Asia within the next couple of years. The benefits and salaries are fantastic in some countries. Then, when I have money saved up from teaching in Asia, I´ll travel all over. I have always dreamed about working and living in different countries, but I had no idea that the dream would come true so soon.

As far as the next few months go, I am not yet sure if I want to stay in Cusco to teach or not. I´ve been meeting awesome people, so it makes my decision to stay harder. I´ve heard that there are many opportunities in Santiago, Chile, but I´ve heard mixed reviews about the city. I wish there were more opportunities in Buenos Aires because I´d really love to teach there. Another city I´m interested in is Valparaiso, Chile.

Life in General

I´ve been feeling pretty healthy and happy except for some unfortunate stomach bouts that keep coming back during unfortunate times. I´ll spare the details. Unfortunately, I wasn´t able to get as much work done as I  had wanted yesterday due to the stomach problems. For the most part, I´m fine though.

On a random note, I met the son of Monsanto´s CEO at a club the other night. For those who don´t know, Monsanto is a huge, controversial agricultural company.

Kittens!

When I woke up this morning, I came downstairs to make some tea, and Rodolfo the cook told me Blackie was here today. Blackie is his two-month old black kitten. He´s so adorable. Naturally, I sat down on the floor to hold him and play with him.

Then, Luisa (another staff member) walked in holding a box with another kitten, Blackie´s brother. Blackie´s brother is a cute, white kitten. Luisa´s cat had a litter of kittens, so Luisa has been giving them away to different people.

Not a bad way to start my day!

Blackie

Blackie

Unnamed White Kitten

Unnamed White Kitten

Playing!

Playing!





TEFL/TESOL: The Beginning

2 08 2009

It’s a lovely, sunny Sunday morning, and it feels much later than 10 am. Five people have moved out of the house, and five new people have taken their places. It’s always a surprise waking up in the morning or from a nap and coming out of my room to see the newbies. Every couple of weeks, it’s the same conversation. “Where are you from?” “What are you doing here?” “How long are you here for?” “Remember to put the toilet paper in the trash can, not the toilet, etc…”

On another note, tomorrow is my third day of TEFL/TESOL class. I’m teaching a mini-lesson, which is 20 minutes long. We’re basically supposed to teach anything but English. So, I’m teaching a very basic version of blackjack. In the ideal situation, I would need to use the board well, use appropriate handouts, talk less than 40% of the time, elicit English from the students using various techniques and plan my time so that I don’t go way over or way under. Afterwards, the teachers critique us. I’m both anxious and excited. Can’t wait to practice on one of the staff members in my house tonight!

More than half the students in the class are in their 20s. I saw them all at one of the popular dance clubs on Friday night. There are also a couple of older men and a couple of people from Holland in the class.

Lately, I’ve been missing warm weather and grassy parks. A few months ago, I was in San Francisco, where it seems like there are parks every few blocks. A year ago, I was traveling through Europe, and there were parks everywhere. Cusco has no clean, grassy parks where I can just sit and relax. I’ve been going to some quiet cafes, but it’s not the same. As much as I love city life, I also love quiet, safe areas outside. I have yet to find my outside haven.