Sunday, April 13, 2008

New job thrills

I haven’t blogged for a while, for which I largely blame work, work-related activites and the resulting stupour I seem to get into once I have done too much work. That being said, I have been working full-time for four weeks now and the shock to the system of only having two days a week for me is beginning to seem like a lame excuse not to write a few words on how things are going.
Last time I write I think we were both still on holidays and I was looking for work. Well, I found some.
My new job is as a casual – of course – English teacher at a language centre at one of Sydney’s largest unis. I don’t want to seem too paranoid but I also don’t want any current or future students to google me so I’ll leave the name off for now. Suffice to say, it’s the uni that’s pretty much as far away from the inner city as possible, which means a three hour a day commute time there and back.
That’s really the only thing I can complain about, however. Everything else is just spiffy. The school is professional, interesting, has a huge support network and seems to be run largely by extremely socially competent women. It’s like a dream come true. I even have my own desk with a brand new computer on it. There’s also a library for the students, as well as a big kitchen for the staff. And that’s just the facilities. The best things are the courses, which seem to be pretty well-run, well-planned and well-supported.
At the moment I’m teaching beginners two days a week, which is a massive challenge. It’s a little daunting when your students understand nothing you say and you start to break out into a cold sweat any time a difficult concept like say, the word aunt, comes up. I took them to the Aqaurium last week and tried to explain the concept of the Great Barrier Reef. Their puzzled looks told me I didn’t get through. Oh well. I can only improve their skills right?
The other class is a group of young adults who want to study at uni. They’re hilarious. Last week we had an afternoon of bush dancing with them and they squealed like kids when we told them they had to hold hands. I never thought I’d be demonstrating the heel and toe polka for two hundred international students but weirdly, I enjoyed it. It was a lot easier than trying to teach the word aunt, that’s for sure.
We also had the animal man in to visit, which has made my new favorite animal a green tree frog. They have such wisdom in their bulging eyes.
But the strangest experience so far has been having a fuly veiled woman in one of my classes, something I’m going to have to get used to. It’s amazingly difficult to connect with someone when you can’t see their face.
A couple of union veterans at work warned me off teaching English last week and said I should teach in high school, more job security, time off in the holidays to see your kids etc. It just didn’t resonate with me. I love the friction between cultures, I love teaching language and I love working with adults. It makes the lack of job security almost seem worth it. Almost. That said, I've joined the union.

1 comment:

JA said...

As being on a Teacher Training at International House in the very south of Germany, Freiburg,right now, I know what you´re talking about now...well I start to understand the language teaching thing...My first guinea pigs were TB of all nationalities which made me talking in baby language, with my hands, feet, face ...only disturbed by big question marks floating around the place and the occasional "warum?" from a frenchman, which was definitly the only word he knew (maybe "Frauen" as well). So enjoy it as I do, it teaches you a lot about yourself which is definetly one of the good bits!