Monday, March 31, 2014

Week Two of TEFL Classes

I have a piece of advice for anyone taking these classes:

Don't take the quizzes before you finish the readings. 

Seems like a silly thing to do, why try and do the homework before you've heard the lesson? Of course I didn't follow the logical thing. 

Hello everyone, I am a college graduate who thought she could just skip the last 50% of the reading material on Pronunciation, Stress, & Intonation and take all 5 quizzes without a problem. I shouldn't have a problem, right? I am a fluent English speaker and I know how to, well, speak English.

Obviously I didn't learn English as a foreign language and a lot of components English speakers inherently understand are really hard for foreign speakers to pick up and understand. Like the "schwa".

Turns out the "schwa" wasn't part of my childhood curriculum and I tragically made a stunning 50% on the quiz after skipping the reading. Maybe I'm not the only native English speaker who didn't know about "schwa" before this class, but lord do I do now. I had to redeem myself from that embarrassing quiz attempt (that I only had one shot at mind you). "Schwa" refers to an unstressed vowel sound, like teacher, library, Sunday, woman, begin, and so on. I distinctly remember being taught that certain words are said a certain way because that's just the way it is. It's not pronounced TEACH-ER, stressing both syllables, it's TEACH-er. 

So here lies a big, new, exiting challenge for this teach abroad adventure:
Teaching students these intuitive aspects of English I've always known, but I couldn't explain to you why I know it. 

Thank you TEFL class for seriously getting my butt into gear. Week 2 = check.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week One of TEFL Classes

Talk about an abrupt schedule change. Today I actually said the words, "I can't, I have to finish my homework." I tell you, after graduation from a college that consumed most of my time with it's high demand for quizzes and papers and tests, I didn't think I'd be doing homework again in a long time.

But it's been overwhelmingly helpful. Just this first week I got a crash course in all the grammar information I've basically ever learned in my entire educational career, and I'm a fluent English speaker mind you. I most definitely google search by my side during the homework assignment.

As nerve wracking as teaching English in a foreign country is to me, my brain seems to be buzzing from all of this knew information I'm processing. After completing my work for the first week, my mind is so happy with me doing something new and stimulating! But that new job stress is definitely settling in more (I won't even get started on all the wacky dreams I've had about moving to Thailand). We all know that feeling when you start a new job, and you are absolutely petrified when you arrive for the first day, just praying you won't screw up. As high as the stress is, our bodies and minds are preparing us each day to do a little bit better and remember our mistakes, quite a few in my case. It only took me a couple weeks at my craft cocktail job to not screw up the table numbers at least once a day... small victories.

But that's what makes us all human, we have vast ups and downs, self doubt and reassurance, and we always make it through the day. That self confidence that arises once a challenge is locked down is what I'm ready for, because this adventure is going to be crazy.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

5 Things I'm Freaking Out About Before Moving to Thailand

I'm guiding this blog in a new direction. Before it was my feeble attempt to create a small business online and share my deep introspective thoughts about finding my path in life. Well now it's my typical travel blog for my loved ones to keep them in touch and make sure I made it safely across the world and didn't get fired for breaking something my first day teaching. So today on this cloudy and chilly Thursday afternoon in Tacoma, I am mulling over the 5 things I'm freaking out about before moving:

1. This TEFL Course...

I have found very little blog posts or personal stories about teachers doing a Teach Abroad program and failing miserably at the teaching part, so that's a good sign right? Truth be told, the moving across the world part is overwhelmingly exciting to me, but I am STRESSING OUT about the teaching part. Especially knowing I have to write my own lesson plans and convince a class of 30+ students to be stoked about English.

But with all the anxiety and stress of starting a new job teaching (with virtually no qualifications other than this intense TEFL course and being fluent I guess), these are the moments and adventures that make you develop personally whether you want to or not. And this new job I am prepping for more intensely than I have any other job, so I know I'm doing my best in the present moment.

2. What do I do with all of my things?

I may live in a studio apartment but good lord do I have a lot of crap. And things I don't necessarily need, but are more "nesting" items than anything. So while I don't need all the adorable things I'm currently surrounding myself with; a brightly colored serape blanket, a tiny hand painted elephant, eucalyptus leaves in old wine bottles, feathers and doilies, I want to keep them all. My time in Thailand will truly teach me how to live minimally, and I will embrace that with open arms. My only question now is how much of this stuff do I really need. And by need I mean really really want. Time for some soul searching, Amy.

3. The weather change

I grew up in the toasty, yet dry, Arizona desert, so I've experienced my fair share of warm weather. My only experiences with humid and scorching temperatures (like Thailand) was a brief trip to New Orleans in July. The best way to describe Louisiana in the dead of summer was that the moment I walked out of the beautiful, fresh, crisp hotel lobby into the streets of the French Quarter, I immediately wanted to run back inside and take a cold shower. I was sticky, my skin had started sweating with out my awareness, and I had already pitted out my t-shirt. So this move to Thailand will help my embrace that weather, and my uncontrollable sweating. Because mother nature is going to win this fight. Note to self: pack black t-shirts. 

4. Making friends

I believe this to be an innate fear whenever we are uprooted and start fresh. A community or a tribe is so important to our well being and happiness. I know I won't be traveling alone around South East Asia and I'm bound to make life long friends on this experience, but sometimes that voice in the back of your head that says everything you don't want it to say shouts out these things. Establishing a social circle is going to be on top of my to do list, and I know I will be working with other teachers in the same position as I am, so we will already have each other to lean on.

5. Living halfway across the world.

The initial move to Thailand and the 16 hour flight on my birthday is all adventurous and incredible, yet that voice is asking how is it truly going to be acclimating to an entirely new culture. We are creatures of comfort, especially Americans, and we have come to expect our day to day routine to follow a certain road. So while my life in Tacoma is quite comfortable and settled, I know Thailand will become my new home, it might just take a couple more days.


While these are all things I'm freaking out about, I can't help but be incredibly excited about the person I am going to become when I tackle all of these hurdles. These are more of stresses in the sense that I know I am going to overcome these obstacles, just getting there is the challenging part. Especially since it isn't happening yet, my brain is just in over drive.

So cheers to one more day towards May 5, the day I turn 24, and fly to a new country and become a teacher, all for the first time in my life.