Helene Combe

Through my journey as an English teacher and a language learner

Month: August 2019

Bye Bournemouth!

As I type right now, in a coffeehouse on Wimbourne Road, Bournemouth, UK, I can’t quite believe it myself. Yesterday was the most intense, emotional and strange day I have ever lived so far: yesterday was the end of Delta Module 2. We survived, guys! We did it!

To begin with, let’s be honest about one key point: our tutors were simply the best. I mean, did you ever have a Delta tutor who picks you up at home because you overslept and you’re late? We did. Did you ever have a Delta tutor who brings you watermelon and pastries every day because you need comfort food and vitamins? We did. Nothing would have been the same if they were just a tiny bit different. I don’t say that often, but they are amazing human beings.

That’s the strength of good teachers/trainers: they inspire you, they motivate you. They set the bar high, and all you wanna do is to become just half as good. I will never recommend ITTC enough to wannabe and experienced teachers.

In general, I know I am going to miss Bournemouth. I loved my life here, my Delta cohort, my tutors (obv.), the coffeehouse I had my breakfast every morning for six straight weeks (the one where I am right now, typing). I have lived in numerous places, and back in 2017 already, Bournemouth was an amazing experience. I cried when I went back home.This year, it almost felt like home, and even though I might not cry, it won’t be less painful.

I would love to say that I’ll be back. I can only wish. Brexit being what it is, and me having a family (a husband and two cats, that’s still a family nonetheless), it’s quite hard to say that I’ll move here for real. Maybe I’ll go back to teach a few weeks at BEET? That would be pretty nice enough(fingers crossed). I feel incredibly lucky already that I had such an experience, and that my Delta course went that smoothly. I know that, for some people, it’s purely Hell on Earth; for us, yeah, it was not a walk in the park, but nobody had a meltdown, everybody passed an internal LSA (or two, or three) WITHOUT resubmission (I passed 2, and I went to see my CELTA tutor afterwards just to say: “do you remember when I had to resubmit every damn CELTA assignment??”).

And yeah, I am going on holidays, now. 🙂 Happy holidays everyone!

Five weeks out of six!

I used to think that I pretty good at my job. Not like a genius, but pretty good. These days are OVER.

That’s the magic of Delta: you think you know something, like yourself, or your job, or the English language, and well, you don’t. Mostly because you have to think a specific topic (like multi word verbs) completely differently, and because you have to write 2000 to 2500 words on it (which can sound either too much or not enough) and create a lesson. It can make you loose all confidence in yourself. It can make you scream that you are the shittiest teacher ever on the planet. But apparently, at the end, you are a better teacher, so I heard.

I toyed with the idea of teaching poetry for a while, and I never felt good enough to teach writing. I love writing, obviously, but I felt that teaching it would be just too much, that I wouldn’t know what to do. So for my second skills assignment (I passed my first skills assignment on reading for global understanding), I decided to go for it, and I chose writing informal emails (LSA3). The bright side: my students didn’t sleep during my poetry class, nor just wrote a couple of sentence during the informal emails’ lesson. The less bright side: I didn’t sleep a lot because of all the prep, but it was worth it. It showed me where my strengths were, but it didn’t show me how to overcome my weaknesses aka systems assignment, nor my demons.

I am not surprised I failed my systems assignment (LSA2). I was sloppy on it, I designed the lesson backwards, I wasn’t confident AT ALL during the lesson… I would have been surprised if I HAD passed. Now that LSA4 is around the corner, (and yeah, it’s a system one again!) I am feeling more and more insecure. I know I shouldn’t, because that’s also why I failed the previous one, but I can’t help myself but thinking that my explanations are too blurry, that I don’t know how to anticipate problems… I am writing down pretty much everything I can think of, hoping it would click or something like that. My lesson is better designed than the one I had for LSA2, and I feel a little more confident about the topic in general (modals of obligation and permission), but I can’t stop myself from thinking that I won’t be enough.

Remaining sane during this course is not an easy task. Honestly, it’s been the worst five weeks of my life so far, despite the happy moments and I can’t thank my cohort enough. I am pretty sure we are going to start a support group the second we are going to leave Bournemouth, because we will seriously develop PTSD. It feels like we have been here for months and that we have been through everything together. (That’s the silver lining moment).

I still have learned something along the way: it’s healthier to question yourself daily than never at all.

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