Every now and then comes a time when you are learning new games week and week out. At other points during your TEFL career you become dry on ideas for games and activities. Not only this, but lo and behold, we are not all grammar encyclopedias when it comes to the ins and outs of the English language. Sure, we can speak it pretty well (at least ninety nine percent of the time, right?!) but we could always do with some recaps to cement the knowledge we are only partially sure about. Drum roll please! Enter the all important training days!
Enquiry or inquiry? What or Which?
As natives who have all been fortunate to access further education we tend to think we have a better command of the language than most, but this is not always the case. So much in fact that we all regularly like to trip each other up in a bid to outshine our peers and be the unrivalled king or queen of English. But this confidence and joking can only carry us so far. When it comes to the classroom, joking and word games can only get you so far. If you don’t know your stuff a plucky student with a thirst for knowledge will be waiting to shoot you down. Sometimes during a senior class a debate can arise based on whether or not the teacher is correct. You can either stick to your guns and shout the student down, quietly hoping that when you google it in fifteen minutes after the bell goes you are right, or take a wild stab in the dark, pray its right and hope the students don’t google it themselves.
There are plenty of times when the grammar can be a little bit complicated for the teacher – it’s highly unlikely that even the finest teacher knows everything – and they quickly double check it before a lesson has started, pre-empting the blank expressions and silent judgments.
Look, Say, Cover, Write, and Check
So, back to the training days. We have them perhaps twice a year, once in January, again in October, normally coinciding with new material or course outlines. They provide us with information that we might secretly be yearning for whether it be knowledge of grammar tenses, presenting phonics, games for seniors, controlling students or keeping a class fun.
They are a really useful time for new teachers and old alike to learn something unfamiliar. They are held with all branches of York coming together, practicing, interacting and perhaps maybe having a little fun. This autumn we concentrated on senior classes, phonics and a key eight areas of becoming good teachers. Even for the most experienced of teachers I doubt they learn nothing.
Points Win Prizes
Although the games are modeled for students aged 12 to enjoy, it is surprising how the competitive element comes to the fore and we all end up wanting to be first, the loudest or the funniest – just like the naughty beggars in our own classrooms. Phonics in China especially is a huge must as the language systems are so different it can be incredibly hard for the students to pronounce specific sounds and the phonics course itself has become prioritized more and more. Hopefully in the long term everyone would have taken away some useful activities, games and methods that they can apply. Not only this but we also try and have a giggle at ourselves, our superiors, meet staff we haven’t seen for a while and also win a few prizes. It’s never taken too seriously and really helps refresh our teaching. Not to mention, we all get to have some pizza and beer after it is over, not that that’s what we’re all waiting for.