TEFL teacher Emily Bennet opens up about her first 6 months teaching in Peru
Only months after her 23rd birthday, Emily Bennet set off on the adventure of a life time, she moved across the pond. But, it wasn’t America that beckoned her as you may think – oh no.
It was Peru that called to this wander-luster.
Lima, the Peruvian capital quickly became her home. Despite a few turbulent months, she’s now settled in her first teaching job.
A graduate of hispanic studies and a fluent Spanish speaker she was ready for the challenge. “I just sort of fell into it, but I’m enjoying it intensely. It’s a great way of understanding my own language and using my own lessons as an opportunity to improve my Spanish too.”
It was her blond curly hair and pale complexion that set up apart from her competitors. It’s safe to say she stands out from the crowd with her edgy fashion sense and. But, it is this element of undividuality that makes Emily’s journey a unique one. Her native English was sought after from day one and has paid off as she’s currently under going her visa application for a more secure residency.
Now working in a Peruvian branch of a Canadian minig company, Emily teaches privately to the general manager and two chief project managers. Her job, however, goes beyond the normal rig morale of teaching all day everyday.
“It’s an early start,” she chuckles. “I work from 7am-1pm every Monday to Friday.” Emily also has the burden of responsibility put upon her in other areas of the company in the form of report writing and e-mailing collegaues in English. And, she often sits in as an interpreter on conference calls and meetings.”
All three of Emily’s students have differing abilities when it comes to English.
Student one: The general manager has an upper intermediate grasp of English. One of this student’s main weaknesses includes the comprehension of colloquialisms when talking to native English speakers. Emily often alternates her classes to focus on another of these weakness, English Grammar. The other proportion of classes includes a series of workshop sessions where there is an emphasis put upon pronunciation practice, listening and reading activities which are based around recent news articles. Her main goal for this student is get him thinking in English and not translating words across in his head.
Student two: Emily’s second student has a very basic level of English. As a teacher, her goal with this student is to improve not only his English in a working environment but also when travelling abroad with his family. He’s often nervous when speaking and Emily aims to improve his confidence so she calls for positive reinforcement with this student in particular.
Student three: Her final student has a very very basic level of English and there is a nod to improving all areas of his language. These classes are often based around textbooks, but Emily understands his need for practical lessons. “He has an interest in British music and television,” Emily gushed. “Currently, I want him to get to a lower intermediate level and have him better understand naturally spoken English.” This well include both broadening his vocabulary of both standard and dialectal English.
“I avoid using Spanish at all costs,” she confides. “They all have an ultimate goal of being immersed in the English Language and they want to improve their skills quickly, and this is the best way of doing so.”
“I’ve only lived here for six months, but I’ve already faced a number of challenges particularly with teaching these students.” Emily starts work at 7 in the morning and whilst she clocks off early-ish at 1pm it’s difficult to keep students engaged that early. She tries to make these activities as engaging as possible. “Nobody wants to learn grammar, much less than early in the morning,” she laughs.
However, her biggest challenge is most definitely her time management (and possibly her sense of direction, as a good friend we both met when we were lost on our first day of university). “This is definitely the hardest part of being a teacher, inside and outside of the office,” she laughs.
Emily meticulously plans her lessons to maximise time in the classroom. Outside of the classroom she finds ample time to research lessons for each student to make them as catered as possible.
She’s also fairly strict with her students, “if my students had their way they’d spend their whole lesson talking about English football.” But, as endearing as Emily finds this, she firmly believes that grammar has to learnt, so the structure has to kept to ensure that objectives are met. In contradiction to this, “it’s important to embrace flexibility and answer any concerns a student has, as it’s better to explain any queries a student has early on.”
Emily’s top tips:
1) Be patient
2) Learn some of your student’s language
3) Never go to class unprepared
4) Make “homework,” fun
5) Make use of technology
“Any time one of my students understands something that they’ve been struggling with is a proud moment for me.”
For now, Emily plans to stay in Lima over the Christmas break, but will be returning to the UK very soon for a much needed holiday – it’s a little bit ironic don’t you think?