If someone told me 5 years ago that I would become an English teacher, I would not have believed them. I started university in 2014, and even though I chose the English Language course with a focus on teaching, I didn’t want to step foot into a school. The simple reason for my choice was my love of languages and literature. Life of teaching English never appealed to me. Little did I know that it would all change in the summer of 2015.
In school and my early uni days, I had the misfortune of mostly encountering bad or mediocre teachers. Of course, there have been some amazing ones over the years, but seeing them work in public schools and get no satisfaction from it made me dislike teaching altogether. Until I went to the UK to study English.
I met some incredible teachers, who were so passionate about their jobs it made me eager to come to class every morning. A lot of time was spent with ESL learners from all over the globe, which gave me a brilliant perspective of what a great teacher can do for them. I saw people get better at English week after week, pass exams to achieve their dream careers, get desired jobs – all because they were lucky to have a great teacher by their side.
After coming back from London, I told myself that I will give teaching a try. You can imagine the surprise on my friends’ and family’s faces when I told them the news that Ana will now become a teacher! Well, “now” was far away at that stage. I decided to finish university first, and then try my hand at teaching. My first experience came in winter 2017 when I had to work in a state school for a few months. I got a chance to teach teenagers. If that didn’t scare me off from teaching, nothing will J
That was the first time I saw what effect I could have on people’s knowledge. In only a few weeks I bonded with my students, saw them progress in the topics we were discussing and witnessed their interest in English grow if they had relatable and interesting activities to complete. Write a lesson themed around pizza and tell me which teenager would not be happy.
A few months later I landed a teaching job at a small language school, and the next 8 months were quite magical. I mostly taught groups of students, both teenagers, and adults. Not all of them had the motivation, not all of them were easy to work with, and not everyone finished the schoolyear successfully which was to be expected from people who don’t attend classes J But most of those people made me smile every day. They provided me with the motivation and the energy a teacher needs to make their lessons great. At the end of the day, teaching to me is not just about showing up and teaching some grammar, it is about building a safe, positive environment and making that lesson the best part of someone’s day.
Learning English can create a wonderful community. My students and I went out to play board games and play video games, we celebrated their successful exams after class with champagne and cake, some wrote me cards when I told them I was leaving the school. My teenager group and I would have movie days, drink tea with chocolates and celebrate Christmas with fun games, and at our last lesson, they decide the classroom was a karaoke bar. I cherish these memories and still try to keep in touch with my students and keep up with their progress.
Not only did teaching bring me amazing social experiences, but It also helps me grow every day. Once you become a teacher, you are simply not capable of not learning. Language is fluid and has so many fascinating features, there is always something new to discover! And as a teacher, I have the privilege of sharing my finds with my students.
Of course, the best thing teaching allows me to do is traveling! Here I am, in magnificent Prague, doing the job I love, getting to explore Europe and meet new amazing people. Moving to a new country is always difficult, but I always know that teaching can open that door for me.
By: Ana Yuziuk