Czech EFL

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Friday, October 28, 2005

I kick ass

There's yet another brilliant post over at Effortless Language Acquisition and yet another blog on my Bloglines account.

There's been a lot of reflection recently from AJ and others on what makes an outstanding teacher and that got me thinking about MY best English teacher (I'm actually the only one who can reflect on my English teachers because AJ&Co. are all English native speakers!). I was blessed to meet Andrew, who I hear is supposed to be now in Korea again, at Lewis School in Southampton back in 2002. He was one of a kind as he could lead every single one of us out of the "I suck" zone in no time. With him all students, even the shiest Korean girl, were always successful.

However, by the time I decided to go to Southampton I'd been through more than 8 years of some of the worst possible primary and secondary school grammar-translation you can imagine. Have you ever seen a 1960's-like coursebook in which each unit consists of a short text about the highs and lows of one family coupled with an illustration, list of vocabulary, some new grammar and several exercises?

In September 2002, on my first day at Lewis School I was put to higher intermediate class but clearly my only asset was good knowledge of grammar and some reading skills while my communicative competence and confidence as well were non-existent. I was deep in the "I suck" zone and I'd always thought I didn't have a good head for languages!

Six months later though everything had changed and I collected the following compliments from my teachers:
  • Without doubt, you are off the scale. (Andrew)
  • It has been utterly fascinating teaching such a talented linguist. (Jill)
  • I was extremely impressed by your linguistic ability. (Kathy)
  • What can I say? You've achieved legendary status! (Tom)
All of a sudden, I was in the "I kick ass" zone!


Recently, I got an email from Tom asking for a testimonial for the school. He wrote:
You are one of the most remarkable language learners I've ever met, and in particular what you and Andrew achieved together as learner and teacher was truly memorable. And then to go and become an English teacher yourself - that's a pretty special story.
Remarkable?

I put together the testimonial and wrote back:
Jiri studied at the Lewis School for 6 months from 2002 to 2003. He took a General English course, plus English for Business (LCCI) examination course. Since then, he has passed CPE and taught English in Malaysia for 18 months under AIESEC international exchange programme. Although Information Management major he continues to pursue his career in TEFL.

"The Lewis School is forever an important milestone on the journey of my life. I was blessed to travel in the company of some of the most remarkable TEFL guides and what was originally thought to be a step ahead eventually opened up an exciting brand new world. Thank you!"
Remarkable? God's grace, I'm compelled to say as I was an atheist back in 2002 but am an ardent believer now!

You guys can help your students achieve exactly this! You can help them discover linguists in themselves! You can help them discover a brand new world of possibilities! You can help them believe...

So six months later and from then on, I've been a passionate user. I've become an English teacher myself!

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