Last week for the first time I stepped into a classroom since the beginning of the year. Yesterday was one of the happiest days I had in the past weeks. I can maybe say the best since 2016 kicked off and the reason is only one: I started being an English teacher again.
Why am I so happy?
Because… Teaching is my passion
Last year when I flew to Athens for being certified through the CELTA I wasn’t really aware of it.
“Then why did you opt for the CELTA?”
It happened just by chance.
In October 2015 the company for which I was working in Ireland declared bankruptcy. The offer was:
you stay alone working till the end (translated: you take all the shit that is left to do without complaining) and we pay you tons of money and some trainings OR you can leave – and some Italian else will grab this offer. I accepted and I chose the CELTA as one training that my employer sponsored, that could have been anywhere in the world. I opted for the CELTA because it was looking like a quick qualification valid for getting a real job – and I always kind of had this idea of teaching stored somewhere in me. I used to give English private lessons when I was in college. My parents were both teachers. Assumed that I decided not to be a journalist, teaching is a profession which would allow me time for self reflection, for studying and time for writing. I would have people in front of me, pumping hearts and a big responsibility.
I goggled where the recognized CELTA course could have been taken in 2015 and found one in Athens: perfect tutors’ reviews, Greece is a country I worship (literally), summer is up… bingo! I sent my application and had a Skype interview first with one of the trainer. A quick chat to understand my spoken English level, after which I had a specific timeframe I had to use an assessment and then I had to wait. They gave me the news I was accepted only in March, slightly before I finished working for my company. Just on time for making pay the invoice!
In May I flew to Athens and in more that I could realize I was literally thrown into a classroom. Real students, a projector and lesson plans to work on throughout restless nights. Feedbacks, feedbacks and feedbacks from my trainers to work on, to get better. The more time was passing by, the more I learnt on techniques, the more I was pretending from myself: it really got deep in my skin. Getting the students to learn things for their lives and see them thrilled about a new lesson in the morning is one of the best experience I ever had.
Because …English has always been of my biggest passions
I know that this sounds weird to many. An Italian who teaches English. Wow…with what kind of right? I also don’t even own a proper English degree, which is the requirement of many employers who hire non native speakers. How is this possible?
There are millions of debates on this subject: some people are ok with that, some are not. Most people would only hire native because they were born American, or English, or Irish and so on – with good reasons, of course.
It’s their mother tongue language we are talking, after all. However, I am among those who believe that not being a native can be an advantage and you know why?
Because I have been studying English as a language since I was 10.
This means going through all the aspects of the language in itself which sometimes a native may not be aware of unless a specific path of studies is chosen. In many non-English speaking countries, we have an academic system which may be poor for sharpening speaking and listening skills but it is centered on studying the structure of a language in a deep way. Many employers know that we may be able to explain things because a native has never been a student of English. We know the challenges a learner has to go through when learning English because not only we were there (as students) but we still are (as teachers).
I do realize that there are things I know better in English than in Italian, simply because I never tried to teach Italian and I would rely only on my own understanding of the language. But a method, a way that deconstruct each part of the language, is not born with you.
Because we chose English and we still choose it everyday.
I can speak for myself. I fell in love with English listening to the stories of my English teacher’s travels in London when I was 10 and translating the lyrics of Pink Floyd and Scorpions. I then studied foreign languages in High School and
fell even more in love, as my mother tongue teacher made her best to teach us to start thinking in English, not translating from our own language. I was studying a lot of translation, literature, grammar plus all the other things which I used to do for myself which promptly involved English. I went to college in Italy and studied Journalism, with many subjects in English. When I moved to Ireland, I studied Journalism again and that was another challenge – more practical though – as the focus was on the form more than how a language can be correct but still – I was writing for newspapers and magazines. I lived in Ireland and since then I almost read only in English, I have been working in English, I took my CELTA and tried teaching and I wasn’t feeling below the level of my colleagues who were mother tongue – at all. All these years have been filled with other language certifications and since for me studying is a pleasure, I know that I will always want to get better and learn more.
There is only one regret for being an English lover like me and a traveller: realizing that most of my future time I will have to be in non-English-speaking countries. If I would be one who likes to settle, I would visit Australia and the USA and afterwards I will pick one place where to live, to choose from (Ireland and England are also in the group, of course).
Because a passion has no nationality.
You can find the best teacher who was born in Finland while an American may choose to teach English in Asia only because he wants to travel easy. And the other way round.
Because People are my passion
A small gesture of gratitude, a smile as first thing in the morning but even the grumpy reaction of when the face of your student will be like “What the hell are you talking about?” Yes, I find all this absolutely beautiful. I love discovering people’s lives just by staring at the light in their eyes. How they feel, how they spend their day, why they may feel guilty, which are the things they regret and the ones they are happy about.
And when the rule of grammar is the starting point for a higher debate, I feel I bring home a small part of world and I just can’t wait for the next morning to come.
If you flick through my blog, you will see how not working is one of my goal. Not because I am lazy. I simply don’t want to spend my life being absorbed by something dry, that I don’t believe in and wake up at 50 years old with a knocking cancer on my body and regretting for not having enjoyed real things in life.
Kayaking rivers, swimming in the ocean, travelling without plans. Sleeping, eating, making love, going to concerts, talking to everyone I please. Enjoy the silence of my own company. Writing for myself, spending time with the ones I love. I do not care if I have 10 or 1000€ – this doesn’t make me a better person and for me it is all about how I feel. We won’t be here forever.
Yesterday I was locked in a meeting with my boss and my team. Numbers, charts, figures. Goals, as they call them. I heard my heart saying: if you don’t work for realizing your dreams, someone will hire you to realize his own. And then I smiled inside, on my own, as a guilty kid who stole the jam jar and no one noticed.
I know this is just a short time to wait and then I will be on the road again.
Being an ESL teacher is what I really strive for and I won’t stop working for that, everyday.
don’t fight life but let it flow.