TESL Certified!

Sunday April 27th, 2014 at 12:44 am

150 hours/3 months later I am finally TESL certified! Well, not officially. We won’t get our certificates for another 2 weeks but it’s such a relief to be done!

I had so much fun in the class and learned so much about both teaching and the English language. This past month has probably been the most stressful month for me. Yes, even more stressful than finals during college. I guess I care more about this ^_^ It’s also been one of the most amazing/rewarding months I’ve had.

At the beginning of all of this, I really wasn’t sure if it was something I could do. To be honest, teaching has been something that I said I never wanted to do. I started the course with no teaching experience, stage fright, and no idea what I was doing or getting myself into.

The first couple months were fun and I was finding myself enjoying it more and more. Yet, I was still nervous about being a good teacher. They told us at the beginning of class not to worry, it will all come together at the end. I couldn’t help but sit there and wonder if that was true.

I had a rough start teaching my first couple classes. They weren’t bad but I had a hard time with time management and for my first class, a hard time with getting the students to do the activities correctly. By my third class, I had more or less mastered time management and my lessons went a lot smoother. My last class today went great. I still have plenty of room for improvement but I’m excited to start teaching and learn new things as well.

I’ve started to clean out a bit of my stuff. Most of my makeup has either been sorted or given away. I’ve horded a lot of makeup/beauty/hair supplies in the last few years between my ipsy, glossybox, birchbox, sample society, look bag, and god knows what else subscriptions. I’ve canceled most of those subscriptions since late last year and just recently canceled everything else this past week. So, you can imagine what my room looked like. I had an entire corner just stocked up with all sorts of supplies. I took the ones I’ll use and gave all of the rest to my friend.

I’ve sorted most of my clothing as well. I have another big box to give to Goodwill sometime in the future. I think I will have to end up mailing my winter clothes to myself since I can’t seem to part with most of them. I need to get off my lazy ass and get more stuff listed on ebay before I don’t have enough time. Craigslist doesn’t seem to work as well for me.

There’s a lot to prepare for but not a lot I’m willing to do until I get my work visa, cause that would just be dumb. It’s too early to reserve an apartment and I’m starting to feel that agencies in Japan don’t even want to deal with me right now because I can’t reserve. I can barely get info! All they care about is reserving but I’m not looking to reserve now! Rawr.

I’m also looking to take a Japanese class for 2 months before I leave. I should be able to work out something with the institute I got my certificate at and only pay for half of the course since I’m leaving in July but we’ll see. Having a little bit of a head start would be nice.

I actually have time to play FFX again now.

Posted Under: Daily Life, ESL - teaching, Japan
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Me vs ESL

Tuesday April 15th, 2014 at 11:34 pm

I realized today how burnt out I am with trying to juggle work, classes, lesson planning, teaching, looking/interviewing for potential jobs, social life, and other life activities such as family, working out, blogging, cooking, personal hygiene, etc. I’m usually done with the rough draft of my lesson plan on Sundays but I’ve had a severe case of writer’s block this week. I really have a new level of respect for people who work full time, go to school, do homework, and still have time to manage a family and do everything else.

Is what I’m doing that exhausting? Mentally, yes. Physically, no. This is not to say I regret my decision to pursue teaching English or that I had no idea what I was getting myself into (although I never imagined lesson planning to be what it’s like) but I can’t wait until the month is over and things start to die down a little. Once the job search is done, that’ll be another huge load off of my shoulders. I’m more stressed about it than what I should be. More sleep would also be nice.

I’ve never been this go go go before. I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time by choosing to juggle everything at once. From what I’ve heard, what we’re required to put into our lesson plans is a lot more extensive that what most schools/teaching companies require. I’m not familiar with other TESL certification courses or schools but I can say that even after two classes I feel like I’ve learned a lot, both about myself and about teaching. I can definitely say creating my own lesson from complete scratch is not an issue anymore. It’s not the most fun thing in the world but it’s challenging and can be a very rewarding experience.

I hope anyone looking to teach English as a second/foreign language will take it seriously. Teaching ESL in a foreign country appeals to many people since it provides the chance to live in foreign, exotic places doing something you’ve spent your whole life doing. It seems easy enough. However, it’s a lot more than just knowing how to speak the language. Trying to teach it to someone who has little knowledge of the language and trying to convey meaning with language they may or may not understand is harder than what it seems, especially when you get to grammar and function.

Imagine trying to teach irregular verbs, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings, words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently depending on whether they are a noun or a verb (ie: a record vs. to record), vowels having different pronunciations depending on the verb, up to 16 different sentence tenses and how to use them/how they can change the meaning of a sentence, conjugation, defining and non-defining clauses, etc. I could go on and I actually feel like these are among some of the easier points.

I definitely feel like I’m still a long way from that mountain peak.

Posted Under: ESL - teaching
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Half way there

Saturday April 12th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I was so sad to miss this year’s cherry blossom festival since I had to teach in the morning. The weather was perfect! In the past, it would either be cold or rainy or both. Unfortunately, the festival this year missed the cherry blossoms by a week or two but everyone still had a lot fun. Hopefully, next year I’ll be in Japan to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom :<3

My second practicum went fairly well. I still have a hard time getting timing right but the students enjoyed the activities. I made a matching game and a crossword puzzle for them. Last week I went over by about 10 minutes, this week I was short about 10 minutes :( This week's lesson was easier to teach and the students had a much easier time learning the language. The benefits of teaching vocabulary versus grammar, I guess. I'll get it right next week, third time's the charm?

I applied to a couple more jobs yesterday, I hope to hear from them within the week. Applying for jobs is kind of stressful when you're not making any progress. I say this and I've only interviewed for 2 jobs *needs more patience*.

Photo moments from the last 2 days:

My first tonkatsu ramen, it’s impossible to find these in Nashville. I can’t wait to try some in Japan since I didn’t get a chance to in my last visit to Tokyo. The flavor is good but I thought it was a little too salty and had too much grease. Are they normally like that? The pork was amazing though, I’d take a few of those with rice any day.

The last of my birthday presents from a friend finally arrived, Sailor Moon headphones from Japan. These were on back order for months! They are super comfy and the sound quality is great.

What chuu looking at?

Posted Under: Daily Life, ESL - teaching, Food, Photos

Taught my first class ever!

Sunday April 6th, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Holy crap, I made it through teaching my first class. As someone who is really shy and has plenty of stage fright, this is a big accomplishment for me. It’s a great motivation boost to know that I can do it. Ample preparation and working with really helpful people make all the difference in the world!

Overall, I felt like the class went pretty well. Learning how to teach a class and actually teaching a class are two completely different experiences. I feel like a person does need both but you learn so much from just being able to teach at least one class. I still have 3 classes left this month so I can’t imagine what I’ll learn in the weeks to come.

The students were very pleasant to work with, which is great for someone who was super nervous. They were pretty tentative and engaging in the lesson. Once I got started, most of my nerves went away. I was pretty hype when I felt like they were getting the hang of the lesson but come practice time, all of them wanted to resort back to using language they already knew instead of using what we were learning in class. This is pretty common and one of the jobs as the teacher is to try to draw their attention back to the target langauge. I wasn’t able to do this as well as I should have but I feel next class I will know how to better achieve this.

They also had a hard time doing the activities on their own. I don’t feel like I made the activities too hard but this is one area where experience comes in handy. What I think may be too easy might be perfect for someone who doesn’t know/understand the language. In the future, I’ll keep the activities simpler. The goal is to learn the language and as long as they do that, it doesn’t matter if the activity is too simple or complex.

I ended up receiving a B-/C+ for the class, which isn’t too bad. I did disagree with the marks a little bit but most of it was my fault. The class ran over and I had to rush the ending a little bit. It caused me to leave a few things out and I wasn’t able to explain the homework assignment very well. However, one reason why the class ended 10 minutes late was also because i started 5 minutes late. We were told to wait a few minutes for latecomers. I don’t disagree with the feed back that I received but the grading scale may have been a little too harsh. We’ll see what happens next class.

The next lesson I’m teaching is a vocabulary lesson on computer terminology, which I think will be fun. I haven’t decided what I plan on doing for the context yet but I need to have the rough draft of it done tonight. We have less time to work on the lesson plan this time around…one week as opposed to the 1.5-2 weeks we had for the last one;

I can see why some people really like being a teacher. I always said I never wanted to teach but it really depends on what you’re teaching and who you’re working. A lot people think English isn’t too hard to teach (as did I) since you already speak the language but that is untrue. Since we’ve been exposed to the language for so long, we all know what sounds right or wrong. We also know what words mean and how they can change a sentence. Vocabulary can be a lot easier to teach because you can have pictures and items to help facilitate the meaning but it can be very hard to teach certain grammar and function words/phrases. A lot of what we use has such minor differences that it can be very hard for someone who has limited concept of the language to understand when to use what language. I don’t really enjoy trying to think of context and examples for lesson plans but once I have those figured out, the rest of it is pretty fun. I’ve had a great time making and creating certain activities. It’s also a great feeling of achievement once an entire lesson plan is finished. Teaching the class is actually the easiest part by that time and the most fun.

I’m applying to a few more jobs this weekend, hoping to hear back from at least one soon. It’s sometimes irritating to see the types of people who are doing the jobs that I want and I know I can do so much better than them. This is not to say that I’m better than a lot of people but there are people out there that I honestly don’t know how they landed the job.

It’s going to be another long night for me: finish applying to a couple jobs, work on graphic designing (I said weeks ago I would have it done but have been way too busy to get started), finish up a rough draft of my lesson plan, and watch Game of Thrones!

Posted Under: ESL - teaching
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