I have a (pride-based) tendency to avoid stereotypical things, and teaching English in a foreign country seemed to me, to be a very stereotypical thing to do. Thus, I said I would never do it. Here I am, a year into living here in Guinea Bissau (I celebrated one year on August 15! Woohoo!) and I started teaching English. The fact is that many of my students will probably never use English, but just to be able to say that they know a little bit of English means something to them.
I have about 30 students (depending on whether or not it's raining during lesson time), which is A LOT! They range from skill levels "I-lived-in-Gambia-for-a-year-and-could-be-conversational-if-you-made-me-talk-to-you" all the way to "I-can-say-good-morning-and-that's-pretty-much-it". Ages range from about 12 to lower 50's. Up until yesterday, there were only males attending. Yesterday, someone brought their 2 girl cousins. The girls will have some work to do to catch up, but I am so excited to have some female company in the classroom!
Is it a lot of work? Yes.
Is it a challenge? Yes.
Does it take a lot of patience? Some days more than others.
Do I love it? Surprisingly, yes! I have discovered that I really love teaching, and I am so encouraged by the perseverance and hard work ethic of many of my students. It gives me great joy when I catch them outside of class struggling through a conversation in English with a fellow classmate, when I know that they could much more easily communicate with them in Creole. They really really want to learn, and many of them will take any opportunity they can get to practice! I love seeing their faces when they grasp something for the first time, when they think I'm making a total fool of myself charade-ing in front of them, and when they let go of their own pride and join me in my crazy charades.
These days, my black pen, red colored pencil and a homemade London Fog (earl grey tea with milk, sugar and vanilla) are my constant companions as I make lesson plans, grade quizzes/tests, and look at homework.
Please note: This is not meant to be an advertisement for Mountain Top Construction LLC... it's just my favorite mug. Nor is this picture meant to be a promotion for that soccer player... that's just my lesson plan book. :)
With that being said, cheers and well wishes for those heading back to school - students and teachers! Maybe some day I'll actually get around to showing you a picture of my classroom and students.