General Fiction posted July 13, 2022

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Teaching is a two-way street.

Gandhi and I

by Heather Knight

My name is...Nah! Not worth it. I'm a Teacher.

When I finished high school at seventeen, I wasn't sure what to study. There were three degrees I liked: Psychiatry, Journalism and English. In the end I chose the last, but the other two make a lot of sense as well, at least in hindsight.

I got my first job as an EFL teacher at my old school and I stayed there for exactly two days. From the very first second, I knew the teenagers would eat me up and then spit out the pieces if I stayed.

A few days later, I got another job teaching evening classes to adults. I loved it from the word go and I knew I'd found my niche.

The next year, I visited a private language school in the centre of Madrid which was quite prestigious back then. I just walked into the Director's office and ten minutes later I had the job. Job hunting was a lot easier back then.

When I was twenty-seven, I took an exam to become an EFL teacher for a government-run Language School that has branches all over Spain. It's a job for life and it's better paid. Materialistic? Maybe.

At the beginning, it was difficult because I could only see my husband at the weekend as I got a post in a different province. Lots of things have happened at work since I started, most of them good. A couple of them, not so good.

An anecdote I'll never forget is something that took place in my second year, while living and teaching in Almansa.

That year, I taught an elementary course. One day, I decided it would be a good idea to read a few paragraphs of an abridged biography of Gandhi and then watch a few minutes of the film with subtitles. The first activity after they read the text was answering a few simple questions.
As soon as we started, one of my teenage students put his hand up and asked me, 'Pero quien era ese tio?. Who the heck was that guy?' I still don't know how I managed to put on my poker face and just explain nicely. I only remember he was a lovely student, a bit hyperactive maybe, a bit of a clown. But I'm afraid he wasn't joking that day.

This is just a tiny drop in a sea of years. Teaching is a job that never gets old. A job that has changed me. I'm a different person in the classroom: self-confident, optimistic, creative... because I'm doing what I love.

A neighbour, who used to be a student of mine, told my husband that I sound a lot happier in English than in Spanish. I know she's right.


Teaching Affected Me contest entry

Almansa is a town in Albacete. It belongs to Castilla La Mancha and though I made good friends there, the landscape is not for me: mostly flat and yellow. I need green to survive.

I've been working for the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas for 30 years. Now you can do the math. :)

The Escuelas Oficiales de Idiomas (EOI) (English: Official School of Languages) are a nation-wide network of publicly funded language schools in Spain that are found in most substantial towns. Most of our students are adults, but we have some very well-behaved teenagers as well. This year my youngest student was 16 and some years ago I had a student who was in his 80s.

At the moment, I work at the school nearest my home, just a twenty-minute walk, a far cry from the first seven years I spent 'in exile'. :)

I wrote Teacher with a capital T because that's what some of my students call me.

Please do let me know if you find any mistakes or typos. When I first wrote this, it was too long and I've edited it so many times that I'm exhausted.

The Spanish question should start with an inverted question mark. And the word tio has a stress mark on the i.
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