It’s 1am and I can’t sleep for the thoughts swirling round my head, so I thought I’d try to write them down.
- I’ve been in Chile for just over a month now – and what an amazing, overwhelming, exhausting month it’s been. In this time, I’ve met up with old friends, made some new ones, found a flat to live in (and bought furniture and moved in)…and, of course, started my new job (as well as teaching, I’m now training to be a CELTA tutor, designing a TKT methodology course and helping to design an in-house coursebook – all of which are interesting but challenging in their own right).
- One of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself in the past month is that I really need to be more patient – patient with others, patient with the never-ending bureaucracy that comes with moving to another country, but most of all, patient with myself whilst I settle into my new life here. Arriving in Santiago a month ago felt, in some strange way like coming home. I lived here in my early 20s and have a really strong emotional connection to the city. I was incredibly excited to be here for the first couple of weeks, only to then be floored by a intense bout of homesickness (which was made worse by how guilty I felt about it – “I’ve lived here before, I shouldn’t be feeling like this”). I’m starting to feel much better, but am still not sure how I’ll cope with being away from home for 2 whole years.
- To me, learning a language has always been about communication (ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to travel the world and be able to talk to people in their language). It’s only recently that I’ve started to realise how closely language and power are connected – and how much being able to speak Spanish fluently affects my day-to-day life. I feel so much more confident and independent than I did when I lived in Poland (and didn’t speak Polish well).
- Teaching in a different context has given me the chance to re-evaluate my beliefs about teaching. I feel very strongly that, as a language teacher, I don’t just teach a subject, I teach people – complex, beautiful human beings. And my job is, as far as possible (given the constraints of the classroom situation) to help my students learn in the best way for them (which often involves try to boost their confidence first). One of my students paid me the loveliest compliment the other day: “Emma, I feel that you know that we are all different in this class and you plan the class thinking about this”….well, I try, at least!
- Even (especially?!) after Delta, I’m scared of observations – of having all the work put into a lesson weighed up, analysed and spat out into a grade out of 100 (yes, that really happens here). Of not meeting people’s expectations (even if they’re only my own). But I also think, in some ways, that it’s good that I feel like this – as a large part of teacher training involves observing people and giving feedback, I need to know and remember what being on the other end of the process is like.
- I’m still trying to figure out what professional development means for me right now. In some ways, I’m quite involved in other people’s professional development (apart from training to be a CELTA tutor, I’ve also been designing methodology courses), which perhaps makes it all the stranger that I don’t quite know what to focus on next myself. The process of moving here and getting used to my new job has been so all-consuming that I’m not feeling as energetic or motivated as I’d like to at the moment; nor do I really know what’s possible (in times of time, money, resources). I miss having geeky teaching conversations…
- That said, training to be a CELTA tutor is great – I’m learning so much and really enjoying working with the trainees. It’s also pushing me to improve my own teaching, which can only be a good thing (practising what I preach, eh). The most difficult thing for me at the moment is trying to guide the trainees rather than telling them too much – hopefully this is a skill that I can develop quickly! And I’ll soon be delivering my first input session (exciting!).
I realise that some of this is quite personal, but I’ve decided to post it anyway – I reckon it’ll be useful to remember how I felt at this point. Buenas noches!