I’ve officially and successfully made it halfway through the TEFL course. Hurray! The next two weeks are going to be absolutely crazy. I’m just taking deep breaths and putting one foot in front the other. And for once in my life I haven’t even face-planted.
Where did I leave off? Let’s see. Last Sunday I went out and did quite a lot of exploring on my own. I was in the city for several hours, and took the pictures I posted here last time. Here’s one more of Old Town Square during the five minutes the sun came out (pic below). I was at the Lennon Wall for quite a while, which I absolutely love. It’s probably one of my favorite spots in Prague. Anyone can write or graffiti that wall, and it’s all really positive and lovely. I just think it’s such a neat idea.
Monday we were in class all day. They assigned our grammar presentations which are due this coming Tuesday. Each of us has to teach a 15-minute grammar presentation to the rest of the class. It sounds silly, 15-minutes after all these long lessons we teach to the students, but I’m actually quite nervous about this one. Teaching to our peers is much harder, because we all understand each other and they’ll know if I get completely lost or something. I won’t let that happen, but it definitely adds to the nerves a little bit. It is part of the criteria of getting our TEFL certificate, so it’s important to do well on this.
Tuesday was our prep day, so my group had regular lessons in the morning and then the afternoon off to prepare for teaching on Wednesday. I met my 1×1 (individual) student on Tuesday afternoon for our first lesson. Her name is Helena, I’d say she’s probably in her early 60’s, and is learning English because she writes to a bunch of pen pals and stuff. She’s really sweet, she took me out for a drink during our lesson. I’m looking forward to our next lesson this Thursday. I have to do a full, formal lesson plan for this one (the first one was informal, just getting to know about her needs as a student), so it’s quite a bit of work. I also have to write a really massive paper about this project, which is due the final Monday of the course. It’s about 10-pages and goes really in depth, so I think a big chunk of next weekend will go to that.
Wednesday we had our lessons in the morning again and then were teaching in the afternoon. First thing we noticed was that Matt, my third group-mate, was not there, which was really odd. He was supposed to teach second. Before we broke for lunch our trainer told Emma and I that it would just be the two of us for the rest of the course. Apparently Matt pulled out of the course. I guess it’s not for everyone.
Emma and I were not observed when we taught on Wednesday. It was a relief in one sense, that we were able to just do the lesson without worrying about that element. I actually found it really discomforting. As scary as it is to have someone watching you and grading you while you teach, as a new teacher I need that. I don’t know what I’m doing yet, I need someone to tell me if it went well or not. After our lessons Emma and I exchanged feedback with each other, and wrote a reflection of our own lessons. In general, I felt like mine went OK. I got them to understand what I was teaching, which was the goal. I guess I just wanted someone to give me a definitive “yes, that was good” or “no, that was crap”. Overall, I felt like it probably would’ve been a pass, so that’s good enough for now.
Thursday I had the afternoon off again, so I took the metro into town and went back to the Globe Café to have a nice lunch and do some lesson planning. My server saw me working and asked if I was doing some sort of program here, so I told him about TEFL and it turns out they give a discount for that. Victory! So I was there for a few hours, had a couple cups of tea and a pivo (pic below), and did some good work.
During our Friday morning lessons we were divided into three mini-groups and given an hour to prepare a grammar presentation to be given that same morning (basically a practice version of the grammar presentation we all have to give on Tuesday). We didn’t know which person in the group would have to actually give this spur-of-the-moment presentation, so we all had to know the material well enough to be able to present it. The
victim presenter was chosen using dice and, go figure, of course I had to present Future Simple to the class. It went alright, I’d mapped it out really well in my notes, and our trainer Dan said it would have been a pass if it were graded which is good.
Then that afternoon we all taught again. This time Emma and I were observed by our trainer Kenny. Emma went first., and then my lesson was after the students got back from their 10-minute break.
My lesson was teaching the different uses of the word “back,” which was actually really interesting to me. As a native speaker, you never think about all this stuff. I mean, you have your back, physically. But then we also “go back” to places, like I’m from the Wisconsin, but I’m currently in Prague, and then I’m going back to Wisconsin. And then there’s all kinds of phrases like back streets, back gardens, back rooms, back pockets, etc. I had fun with it. I managed to do the whole lesson without ever making them open their books, which as a student I think is a nice vacation every once in a while. I had a lot of activities, and my production involved them all getting up and mingling around talking to each other which went really well. They all used the word back in a bunch of different contexts, so I was really pleased with that.
I was a little nervous at feedback time, because I’d burned through my activities really fast and at the time that it was happening I was like, oh god, this is going too fast! I’m going to fail! but luckily that was all in my head. Kenny said my lesson actually went really well. I just have to remember that I got them exactly where I wanted them to be, and that’s what matters most. They understood what I taught them. Kenny said I had really great rapport with the class, and that my speaking speed and language grading were really good. And he was impressed with how much I got them to speak, which is pretty huge. Basically the last 12-15 minutes of my lesson was them walking around talking to each other, and I just monitored and corrected a few things. I have a couple things I need to work on (correcting more, which he said is always particularly hard for North Americans for some reason, and “boarding” which is basically the way you present things on the whiteboard, which is just something to practice and get used to), but the most important thing is that I passed my second observation and am currently two for two!
The scary part is, a lot of people do fail lessons, and it’s people I would not expect to fail. So even though I’ve passed both of mine, I’m certainly not comfortable yet. I have three more observed lessons, and one more unobserved lesson ahead of me. The good news is, I only technically need to pass one more to meet that particular criterion for the TEFL certificate. Personally, I’d like to pass all three. 🙂
After feedback was done I went back to my flat and another classmate Kelly and I were at my neighbor Tony’s apartment hanging out for a while chatting. Then the three of us went to a different pub near the school (you walk down an alley that looks like it belongs in a horror movie and it’s sort of behind this random building) which was bright orange and filled with hockey stuff which is apparently big here. We had a couple of pivos (beers) with Tony, and then Kelly and I left to meet two more classmates, Sam and Sierra, and the three of them went with me to meet Heather and Benni in town.
Heather and Benni’s bus from Nuremburg got in around 8:30pm, so we met them at 9:15 near the Namésti Miru metro stop and walked over to a Mexican Restaurant called Las Adelitas, which is fantastic. I’d been there with the family last time we were in Prague, so I was pretty pumped to go back. Apparently most of the “Mexican” places in Prague are more like some weird Czech variation on Mexican, but this place is authentic and seriously delicious. There were several pivos, pitchers of margaritas (chili lime might be my new favorite flavor), and bottles of wine (Benni the German, ladies and gentleman) and it was basically a ton of fun (pic of Heather and Duck below, for those who don’t have Instagram), and we were there until they closed after midnight. Since the metro was closed by then, Kelly, Sam, Sierra and I got to take the special “night tram” home which is basically a tram full of drunk people. It took longer since it makes more stops, but was an entertaining ride nonetheless, and I got home around 2am.
The next morning I met Heather back in Vinohrady while the German slept in. We went and had breakfast at a little cafe, and went and got Benni about an hour later. We did a bunch of sight-seeing. It was quite foggy, but Prague is gorgeous no matter the weather, so I was excited to stop by one of my favorite picture spots (below) from the last time we were here. I couldn’t remember where it was! We spent most of the afternoon wandering, and then met Heather’s friend Andrea (they took the TEFL course together) and her boyfriend for dinner at an Indian restaurant which was also delicious, and then we went to another bar for drinks. I left shortly before midnight so I could get home before the metro closed.
This morning I met Heather and Benni again, and we went up to the train station their bus leaves from so they could put their bags in a locker (they’d checked out of their rented flat), and so I could see where to catch the bus when I leave in a couple weeks. Afterwards we went to a local Czech restaurant (another one we’d been to last time) for some nom-tastic Czech cuisine in the form of the most epic potato pancakes ever. It’s the size of the a dinner-plate and covered in ham and cheese. I ate about a third of it and took the rest home. After lunch we said goodbye since I needed to get home and be productive. I hopped on a tram and made my back back to Vysočany to get some work done.
I’m so glad they came. As much as I’ve enjoyed the super-charge I get from being able to explore on my own, it was nice to have some company for the weekend. I’m looking forward to visiting them in Germany next month.
And here we are. I talked to my parents for a bit and caught up here, which was basically a warm up activity for the work I need to do tonight. This week is going to be so crazy, but I know it will go by fast. I can’t believe this month is already half gone. I have no idea where the time goes until I sit down and write it all out!
Well I think that’s it for now, my friends. You guys are in my thoughts everyday, just so you know. 🙂
Love from Prague!