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Back into teaching, but adults not kids!!!

13 replies

oxocube · 06/10/2002 13:57

Hi, everyone. Please excuse a ramble but wonder if any of you have any thoughts or advice for me. We are financially VERY strapped for cash (under statement of the year!) and I am an infants teacher with 5 years teaching experience in U.K and abroad. However, because we live abroad, there are very limited teaching possibilities in English and the only school within reasonable travelling distance is the one where my kids go and anyway, they have no vacancies.

The Human Resources dept where my d.h. works have been great in all sorts of ways and one of the things theyhave suggested is that I work a few hours a week teaching English to their employees who would like to brush up on their English language skills. This would be organised by the company, who have offered to hold the classes (1 on 1 and about 30 quid an hour) on their premises, to arrange them during school hours and during a time when I could get a babysitter for my 1 year old. They have said that because these are 'in house' classes paid for by the company, I would not need to do a TEFL course and that a teaching degree is sufficient. They also said that their other tutors basically follow a book and that I would be welcome to talk to them and look at teaching materials etc .

This seems like the sort of thing which would help both financially, and to keep my hand in teaching. What does anyone else think? Have any of you gone from teaching kids to adults? Frankly, I am more than a little scared, but whats the worst that can happen - that its just 'not me' and I have to give up? Do you think it is practical to assume that because I can teach reading and writing to 5 and 6 year olds, I can teach adults?

Any advice and/or comments would be really welcome! Thanks and BTW, we live in Holland where my students would have good basic English skills anyway, which worries me even more!!!

OP posts:

GRMUM · 06/10/2002 15:10

Hi Oxocube I am not a teacher but as I live abroad I do have some views on english teaching.Over here (Greece) there are many english people teaching english with no other qualification than that they are native speakers.For me the very fact that you are a teacher with experience in teaching methods would be a big plus, all be it that you have experience with little ones.Over here the British council run some excellant courses on teaching english as a foreign language to adults, maybe you could find something like that to give you some extra confidence.The main thing I would recommend is really brushing up on your grammer,adults with some knowledge of english seem to be most keen on this!!
I don't know your situation are you permanently in Holland? likely to move to another country at some stage in the future? Wherever you go in the future you can always get jobs in this field and if you specialise in something like buisness english it can be lucrative with hours to fit your timetable.
I wish I was a teacher I regulary get requests to do lessons but would feel a fraud as I have no relevant qualifications.In your position I would definitly give it a go.Go to the bookshops and look at all the available books for teaching english -there are hundreds of different ones available.The British council site here may also be of help.
Good luck and HTH


oxocube · 06/10/2002 17:55

Thanks GRMUM, I'll check the link. I guess I'm in need of a confidence boost! We are only in Holland for a couple more years and then hope to move again, although not back to U.K. so I think this would be a very useful 'string to my bow'. I would welcome any other thoughts. Lucy123, you have experience of this, don't you? Although my main degree is in English Lit and I read as if its going out of fashion, I must admit to being a bit worried about getting my subjunctives mixed up with my conditionals IYKWIM

But I'm sure you're right, GRMUM: so many people living abroad seem to teach English, regardless of qualification (or lack of it!) I just don't want to be one of the frauds!

OP posts:

robinw · 06/10/2002 18:34

message withdrawn


Tinker · 06/10/2002 18:46

oxocube - I'm not a teacher but I do receive French tuition, one-to-one so have a bit of a student's perspective.

Are prospective students likely to be forced or are the having English lessons of their own volition? I imagine that's crucial. Mine own experience is that I enjoy these lesson sooo much more that as a child because I can just discuss a point until it makes sense to me. I set my agenda and tell my teacher what I would like to do, with assisstance from her. She sets the lessons and provides appropriate material to work on.

I think you would need to do it as a joint exercise with each student but it would be so much more fulfilling. It has certainly made me think that I would love to do a TEFL course, so long as one-to-one. And £30 per hour is a VERY good rate!


Marina · 06/10/2002 20:19

I honestly think you'll be great, provided, as Tinker points out, they want the lessons and are not being made to do them. Even in a country with a high level of spoken English, like the Netherlands, I would still suspect that qualified native tongue teachers are not that easy to come by, especially if you live outside the Hague or Amsterdam. The company sound keen to have you, which is an extra boost. I would jump at it in your position, oxocube - it could be the start of a portable, flexible career.


bunny2 · 06/10/2002 22:24

Sounds like a dream job. I have taught TEFL, not 1 to 1 but in classes. I am a qualified and experienced teacher (secondary and university)and I beieve once you can teach, you can teach anything at all as long as you have the correct information. Use text books if they are available, there is no point in reinventing the wheel, and brush up on your grammar if it is a bit dusty, from my experience students like to know their participles, infinitives and all the other bits we take for granted. Good luck.


Bron · 07/10/2002 11:37

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

oxocube · 07/10/2002 12:28

Thanks so much, everyone, for the support and advice. Am going to U.K. in a few days, Bron, so will buy the book you recommended!

OP posts:

Philippat · 07/10/2002 13:02

In a slightly reversed situation, my mum had dutch lessons paid for by my dad's company when we lived in Belgium when I was a teenager.

What she wanted (and got) were simply good conversation lessons. Structured, but ad-libbed. And all in dutch, no shirking into english.

Good luck!


slug · 07/10/2002 20:00

I teach adults and to be honest, it's far easier than teaching children. For a start they are far more forgiving of your mistakes, have longer attention spans, generally have social skills, and if all else fails, you can always teach them "conversational" English(discuss current events for example). The only advice I have for you (apart from go for it girl, easy money!) is never, ever underestimate your student's intelligence or ability. (Please note midwife who took my ante natal classes)


Empress · 07/10/2002 21:53

Oxocube, don't know where you are but contact the British Council who will tell you where you can take a TEFL course anywhere in the world. If you have a qualification you will get better jobs, more money & could have a new alternative career.
Good luck!


SofiaAmes · 08/10/2002 23:27

oxocube, I have taken japanese and chinese lessons as an adult both in a group and a one-to-one situation. Although I know my grammar when it comes to foreign languages (and think it's important), I never found that intimate knowledge of grammar differentiated a good language teacher from a bad one. I found that enthusiasm for the subject matter was far more important. Also, I feel that a teacher that is sensitive to the students goals is extremely important (no point hammering home the grammar if your student just wants to learn how to pick up members of the opposite sex in bars). I would recommend checking with the student at the beginning what they want to get out of the lessons (ie grammar, conversation, business vocabulary, etc.). Adults will need to work a bit harder than children to learn a language, but they will be able to articulate what they want to learn and what they don't understand. Why don't you ask if you can sit in on a few lessons with a few different tutors who are already teaching there. This should not only put your mind at ease about your abilities, but it may give you some ideas of where to start and how to approach the lessons.
Like others have said, this sounds like a great job and a great opportunity to get you set up to do this in the future if you enjoy it.


Lucy123 · 09/10/2002 22:14

hi oxocube -

I've been moving house and we've had to wait for a phone line so I missed this (right up my street as you said).

Grammar is something that scares a lot of tefl teachers, qualified or otherwise. I thoroughly recommend you get a copy of Murphy's English Grammar in Use, which has clear explanations and lots of exercises. For the Dutch you may also need Advanced Grammar in use (sorry can't remember the man's first name).

As for the subjunctive - we almost never use it (if you're interested it's when we use "were" for "I"/"he" as in "I wish I were..."/"if i were" - the only times we use it and you shouldn't dwell on it). What students will want to know is what we say and when (eg. is it "I'll meet Sylvia at 2pm for tennis", or "I'm meeting.."?) and you will be able to tell them these things even if you can't tell them why (that will come later). Students will always understand if you have to answer a question with "we'll look into that next lesson" - so you can consult the Murphy's in the meantime.

Sounds like a cushy number anyway - £30 per hour is a lot more than the going rate in Spain! Good luck.

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