I absolutely love traveling! I caught a sense of wanderlust at a pretty early age, and so when I found out that I could travel for my practicum, it was a pretty easy decision. This past summer, I completed my TEFL certification in London, England with the Destination TEFL program. Having spent my second year as an undergrad in Dublin on a study abroad (also with CIEE), I already knew the city a little bit from visiting it before. It is one of my favorite cities that I have traveled to and I was extremely excited to go back.
But, with most of my travels, this was an educational trip. I was going to teach actual students for the first time and was extremely nervous. We held free English classes for students to come and learn, and everyone in the program worked together to create a cohesive lesson plan for the students. However, my first day of actually teaching was terrifying. I am usually a pretty composed person, but I was so nervous that when a cashier asked how my day was going, I started telling them everything. I am not even exaggerating. This poor guy listened to me tell him how nervous I was about teaching idioms. I think I also listed three of the ones I was planning on teaching, and how I was planning on teaching them. He felt so bad that he told me my sandwich was free because I looked like I needed ‘one less thing to worry about’. It was one of the most embarrassing things ever, but no matter how nervous I was, I was going to teach.
I spent a good part of the day in the teacher training before prepping over lunch. And then the time came to teach, and I was so nervous that my hands were practically shaking. I got up in front of the students and taught the lesson, fearing the worst the entire time. But the lesson was nowhere near as bad as I thought. There was no earthquake, and London still stands. The students didn’t hate me afterward, and I actually felt pretty good about the lesson. In fact, in a later lesson, I even hear one of the students use an idiom that I had taught them! It was really cool, and it was after that first lesson that I realized that I could actually do this whole teaching thing.
I had this idea that I would teach English as a second language after an unfortunate teacher I observed when I was sixteen. But I had never taught anything. Yes, I have tutored students learning English, and even volunteered to be a conversation partner for a program at my university for students learning English. But never in my life had I ever created lesson plans before the certification course. And teaching them? Nope! That was not a thing I had done, and I was really unsure whether I would make a good teacher. But I learned throughout the program that not only could I do it, but I could do it fairly well.
The Destination TEFL program let me work with foreign students wanting to learn English to enjoy the city. It was a big part of the reason I applied for the Destination TEFL program in London. I wanted to work with students who were learning the language to interact with their community better. And it was that very same program that helped me see that I can actually teach students successfully. It was a big revelation for me, and I am so glad that it happened.
Now, a note for future teachers (even current teachers) that I learned throughout the Destination TEFL program. The most important thing to realize is that the worst-case scenario rarely happens. You can imagine a natural disaster and your students hating you after the lesson, but I can promise you that it will most likely not happen. It okay to be nervous, but try not to dwell on the unlikely ‘what ifs’ and focus on the realistic possibilities. The last thing is something that I can’t stress enough: brush up on past simple and present perfect!