This is the first post I’ve written since I left San Jose, Costa Rica in July and moved to Brasília, Brazil. Inevitably I’ve been reflecting on my time in Costa Rica and I look back at it with nothing but warm memories. On a personal level, it was a great country to live in, and there are times when you are animal spotting in the forest, basking on the beach, or staring down into a smoking volcano that you realise that you live in one of the most unique and beautiful countries in the world. I’ll always be grateful I had that opportunity, just as I am that experienced Belgium, South Korea and Brazil before it. I hope I can go back one day (read more about that here).
Professionally, I learnt a lot too. I can’t speak highly enough of the school, Centro Cultural Britanico, where I worked and I’m grateful to all of my colleagues for the time, at work and out, that we spent together. In Belgium I taught mainly one to one business and presentation skills classes in a dogme style. Following that in Costa Rica, I taught groups of four to ten students using a coursebook. I think that having had the opportunity to try out both of these ‘styles’ of teaching will help me immeasurably with my development as a teacher in the long run.
I also had the chance to teach teenagers for the first time, and I’m delighted at how this came about. The teens didn’t have their own classes, they were in amongst the adults, which meant that I didn’t give them any special treatment and that they had to raise their game. It was very useful that I wasn’t the only ‘grownup’ in the room, and it fostered the collaborative feel between me and students, and between them as a group. It also meant that I didn’t have to deal with “a group of teenagers” which might have prompted me to think I had to teach in a specific or different way. Faced with this situation in the future, I’ll be much more ready.
So now I’m here, in Brasíia, back where it all started for me as an English teacher in 2007 (read more about that here, here and here). Back then I had no experience and no qualifications. I’d never read a methodology book or been to a conference. I didn’t have a Twitter account or a blog. I wasn’t aware of IATEFL or Braz-TESOL. This time things are rather different. I was in a position to discuss possible jobs before I left Costa Rica and I have been accepted to speak at a conference within the first month. I’m planning to meet teachers in Brazil I’ve only met before online. Anyone who is active in the online ELT world knows that Brazil has one of the most organised and exciting professional development scenes in the world, and I can’t wait to get involved and tell you all about it. Vamos!