Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Today I am mostly....

I've been thinking (oh dear...).

I've been taking stock (even bigger oh dear...)

I've had lots of time to think - I haven't worked properly since 2 April!

And next week I have a job interview. This isn't a "normal" job though. And I have to say that I have been wondering why I applied...

You see, languages are my "thing". English is my first language, but Welsh is my native language (long story that I'll keep for another time..). So I can speak both. I am also fluent in French, and have a smattering of German and a few phrases in Spanish. As well as a primary (elementary) teacher, I am trained to deliver languages. So when I saw the job ad I thought I'd give it a go.

The job in question is for an EAL teacher. No huge problem for me, as I have always had a large proportion of children with little or no English in my classes. I looked very good on paper, and sent off the application form well before the closing date. Now, I don't know what it's like with you, but over here teaching jobs are advertised and filled very quickly. It is rare for schools to write back to tell you if you have been unsuccessful at the sift stage, but they do tend to inform those who they want to interview very quickly. So after two weeks of waiting I gave up. How surprised was I to receive an invitation to interview - some four weeks after the closing date!

All good news I hear you say. Well, yes and no. While I'm pleased that they thought I was good enough to interview, I am a little worried that the job seems to be centred around 11-18 year olds. This was not stated in the advertisement... What on earth do I do with secondary (middle/high) students...?

And then I remembered. These children have huge needs too - probably more so than primary children with no English. Heaven knows it is difficult enough for primary children, but at least they have the comfort of being in one class with the same children and the same teacher. The younger the child the easier it is for them to absorb a new language. They can develop at their own pace, and there is plenty of time for them to gain confidence and language skills before they have to enter the scary world of public examinations. However, secondary children are already in that environment. It is difficult for them to pick up a new language when they are constantly on the move with different teachers and a different peer group for each subject. How on earth are they to be expected to develop their language skills? How on earth can they make friends? It's no wonder that they fall behind and become disenfranchised. I hate the fact that nine times out of ten these children are treated as "special needs" simply because they cannot communicate, when in fact they are intelligent children who are unable to access the community in which they live. Too often, I have seen, it is easier to treat them as low ability than to reach out to them in a way they understand, so that their skills and knowledge can be recognised and stretched. If they are not switched off because of the language barrier then they sure will become switched off by the low level of work they are presented with...

So for me it's simple. I have been asked to teach a 30 minute lesson on verb tenses (again, the wrong approach to teaching a language...), so that's what I'll do. But I will do it in my way - the primary way, drawing on all my skills as a primary teacher and my knowledge of teaching languages to engage the students and ellicit response.

Finally, a huge thank you to Charity for reminding us all of the purpose of blogging. Sometimes it's easy to forget. I know how much I love reading all your blogs, and I also know that sometimes it's easy to get bogged down with awards, giveaways etc. I thought I'd take a look closer to home and start with my own blog. I have to say that I have very few posts that include awards or tags (which worried me at first because it brought home to me that I might well just be talking to myself...). I hope my posts make interesting reading - somebody please tell me to stop rambling if they're not... :-) Most of all, I hope I'm on my way to becoming a 5 star blogger. Link up with Charity by clicking on the rosette.
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