After my first two weeks of in-classroom TESOL training, I was eagerly awaiting the next two weeks of practical teaching in the classroom. I felt adequately prepared having aced my two written tests, but also a bit nervous as I had also found myself pretty far outside of my comfort zone.
Over my accounting career I had to make countless presentations in front of people on financial budgets, proposing management strategies, and so on. So when I learned that we’d be presenting to our classmates, I thought it would be a breeze.
Being able to teach, especially to younger students, would mean that I would need to be creative, quick on feet, and even sometimes resort to pure silliness. Put me in front of my friends (with a few drinks for liquid courage), and that would be no problem. But stand me in front a class of people I’ve just recently met and ask me to sing, dance, talk with an accent, or do charades? I could think of more uncomfortable things I would rather be doing.
I was no longer presenting fiscal year budgets or [insert other bland accounting talk] – this would be much more difficult. Any confidence in public speaking I once had seemed lost. I would also be teaching something that I used to take for granted every day – speaking English. I’d be striving to get a student to properly pronounce the letter P, or singing a song that also secretly teaches them tidiness, or even explaining the meaning of the word ‘opportunity’ through drawings and actions (I still don’t know how to do that).
Not only was I learning about what I would be teaching students, I felt like I was learning the English language for the first time. Phonemics? I previously had no clue what that was but now I can write sentences in the phonemic alphabet.
(^ That says ‘English is hard’ in case you were wondering.)
Conjunctions, determiners, prepositions?! Would I ever be able to look at a sentence the same again? No wonder we were being instructed on how to teach creatively.
My classmates told me I didn’t look nervous, but I think I just I masked it quite well. In the end we all jumped in. We sang, we acted, and we all talked in a funny accents. Once we transferred it to our practical teaching assignments, it all began to make sense.
A little bit of silliness can go a long way. And not only just for teaching young ones but even applying it to everything I do.
Eventually I would love to give presentations and do more public speaking. Definitely not about fiscal or strategic planning, but maybe by teaching a class, or even to an audience about our lives, travel, and what inspires us.
I’m pretty sure I can come up with a song and dance for that.