Last week, Amy Parry gave us some insight into her summer abroad working in the Czech Republic. She shed light on the application process and her first steps into securing her internship. This week Amy tells us about what she’s been up to and how she’s overcoming some personal fears in order to help her colleagues.
A few months ago, volunteering to help children with their English at a Summer Camp was not my ideal job; I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. But a few weeks ago my supervisor asked me to organise some English classes for employees to help improve their English as a part of my job role.
Of course I said yes, but in the back of mind I thought, oh no I can’t do this I’m not an English language teacher I have no idea how to teach English as a language. I can just about speak English myself – well with an Essex accent that is. At that point I was in panic mode, or as people who know me would say; being a stress head.
Once panic mode was over I arranged seven classes, some one-to-one classes and some group classes for an hour of English practice. I listed some questions aimed at getting a conversation flowing, for my colleagues to practice speaking to a native speaker of English, and for me to get to know them and what they needed to work on the most.
After my first week of classes I felt very positive, I wanted to teach them more and I really wanted to help them improve and make them feel more confident when speaking to a native speaker.
I am currently learning Spanish as part of my degree and I know how daunting it can be when speaking to a native speaker; trying to think of what to say, and trying to say it without making any pronunciation mistakes, is hard enough let alone understanding if what you’ve said even makes sense to the native speaker.
Learning another language is a very long and difficult process and the toughest part is trying to speak it, which is why I would like to use my time here to help employees progress.
Nearly all of them said that I have a very strong accent, and I guess I do. I have a strong Essex accent which makes my classes rather funny as some of them are starting to pronounce words the same as me with an Essex twang. Although this made me laugh, it also worried me and made re-think whether I should do English classes or not.
In doubt, I prepared some exercises for my second week of classes. I prepared a list of phone call phrases for my colleagues to put into practice when they are taking business calls with English clients.
I prepared a situation for them to make use of the phrases and asked one of them to play the role of a receptionist and the other to play the role of a patient. I then asked them to create a conversation using these phrases to change an appointment previously made by the patient. The outcome of this activity was very successful as they had created an accurate conversation using the phrases given.
I was so pleased that they had actually learnt something from my class that will help them both communicate with native speakers and for work purposes. I couldn’t believe that they learnt something from me; I was so shocked that my class truly helped them.
This made me realise that I am able to help improve employees English and that I shouldn’t doubt myself as much. I have learnt about the skills that I never knew I had and now I genuinely do look forward to my English classes. So what if they might develop an Essex accent, at least I’ve left my mark!
Have you taught English abroad? Let us know at @TridentMediaUK. Don’t forget to check back next week for more on Amy’s Czech experience!