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Today, 5th October, is World Teacher Day and as an educator myself, what better way to pay tribute than to write a blog
In my opinion, teaching is one of the most underrated jobs in the world. No matter what subject you teach or in what area you specialise, teachers shape the future of millions of children each year. They are responsible for educating the next generation of world leaders, scientists, researchers, it’s an essential, and in many countries obligatory, part of life.
Ever since primary school, I put my teaching skills to good use.
At the age of 7 I used to make and print out worksheets at home and play “teachers” with my friends in the playground. I found a little corner in the school yard behind a huge oak tree, pinned up my worksheet on the tree and started to teach. I had no idea what I was doing, but as a confident and bossy 7-year-old, I was adamant. I must have been the worst friend. I mean, children want to run around and play tig at break times, not sit and listen to their friend be bossy.
As I grew up, my bossy nature settled and I progressed through to secondary school, but I didn’t stop.
When we had our end of term exams and ran out of practice papers, I used to make my own, I used to write summary booklets of a term’s work. Even my friends and classmates started using them. When we came to public examples (GCSEs and A-levels) I continued with my papers. My revision notes were passed around our classes and people used to “book revision sessions” with me to go over work from the school year. You’d think with all this teaching nature I knew what I was doing and was an A* student, well far from! I have always been good at summarising and condensing information but actually learning it myself and getting good grades was never my strong suit.
It wasn’t until my third year of university when studying in Bamberg, that I was offered a role as a conversation teacher for local Germans.
Looking back, I wouldn’t exactly call this teaching, rather guided conversation that I could help with as a native English speaker. But I loved this experience and learnt so much about my own language, that I researched a teaching qualification. I wasn’t so much interested in teaching at home in topics I had studied, but abroad and with the English language. So, I booked a one-way ticket to Barcelona, to complete a TEFL qualification and within the first week of completing this course I was offered a job. I looked at long-term rental, my partner moved from South America and we started our life together there. Ever since, we’ve returned to the UK and I’ve ventured out on my own, having set up my online English learning platform, Virtually Fluent.
So right from that moment of being a 7-year-old girl obsessed with teaching, I’ve been on a mission to help as many people as possible achieve their goals in life through English, whether that is a job that they’ve always wanted that requires a level in English, whether it’s to travel the world, whether it’s to communicate with your English-speaking partner’s family. I love my job.
But it’s not all fun and games!
In fact, many of the drivers that led me to setting up my own teaching company were these obstacles in the EFL industry. I was trying to fit as many teaching hours into the day as possible and was running around Barcelona like a maniac! I was exhausted when I got home with the stress of not missing the only bus to a village in the middle of nowhere, and when you do finally get home you can’t put your feet up and relax. You’ve got to plan your next classes, you’ve got to mark your student’s papers, you’ve got to write progress reports, create the next term’s syllabus and, to top it all off, constantly learn and improve your teaching technique. Time is never on your side when you’re a teacher. It’s an exhausting job.
The toughest thing for me as a teacher of English as a foreign language is that there is a misconception that you are lucky to be born into English and therefore your work isn’t as highly regarded.
It’s true that I feel privileged to be able to speak English natively, but this doesn’t mean that EFL work should be undervalued. Almost on a daily basis I receive messages from people saying “I want free English classes”. Do you ask your hairdresser to cut your hair for free? Do you ask your builder to build your house for free? Teaching EFL requires training, paying for teaching courses, years of experience and in most cases starting a new life in a foreign country. It’s not just the language but the entire teaching experience and that’s something that, in my opinion, is unjustifiably undervalued.
Teaching has given me the opportunity to live and work abroad, it led me to start my own online teaching company and the teaching world is such a strong community, it’s given me friends for life. I applaud every single teacher I know for their hard-work and commitment and I am proud to be part of this industry. Happy World Teachers Day!