16 December, 2009

Where have you been ??

........ is the one question that I've been answering rather frequently over the past few days.

There have been so many emails from friends all over, friends who've been wondering how I managed to disappear over the past two months and more importantly, where ??

Well, so then .... what exactly have I been upto over these past two months ??

Simply put, I was busy studying !! I'd been busy with my CertTESOL - a course which, upon completion, would leave me qualified to teach English as a Second or an Other Language.

The past month has been a very very intense one. To sum the journey over the past month, I simply reproduce here the summary that I submitted at the end of the course - to my tutors and the moderator.

"The overall experience of the CertTESOL journey has been quite amazing. It has been such a mix of emotions over the past month. It has been insanely intense, it has been a challenge like nothing I’ve faced before – yet, I can say with total certainty that it is absolutely “doable”.

Never before had I even imagined that learning a foreign language could actually be an enjoyable experience. All of those attitudes and more, changed when we were put in the position of “learners of a language hitherto unknown”. We had four input sessions on Dutch and it was remarkable. It brought home the message that learning a foreign language does not have to be a chore. It can be an extremely pleasant process. I’d never thought that I had it in me to go about learning yet another language. But I did. Well, atleast, a part of it J. The message was loud and clear – “Learning English does not have to be a chore for your students. You, as the teacher, can make it a pleasant learning experience for them.”

This past month has been one of revelations on many different planes. I knew what I was getting into when I applied for the CertTESOL. I was mentally geared up for an extremely intense one month. I was mentally geared up to move family and kids to second place. I barged into TESOL with those twinges of guilt (sometimes little, sometimes big) in knowing that my family was going to have to live with the fact that, for the next one month, TESOL would have to take precedence.

The course began. The very first day of the course and by evening I was completely overwhelmed. The question that kept ringing in my head like a rather incessant bell was “What have you got yourself into ?”. A couple of days into my course and that sensation of being overwhelmed continued. Little did I know that it was just a question of my body and mind adjusting and rewiring themselves to the fact that stress was a factor that was there to stay – at least over the next month.

I could recall very vividly, a program that I’d watched on TV well before the CertTESOL began. A program which, had then seemed totally incredulous to me. It said that one could really push the human body and the human mind to limits hitherto unimagined. More importantly, the more you demand of your body and mind, the more your body and mind gives you.

Now, looking back over the past month of CertTESOL, I can completely vouch for that fact.

Weeks two and three (week three especially) really pushed me to my limits. There were sleepless nights when I was compiling my Learner Profile and I’ve always been the kind of person who could not survive without at least 8 hours of sleep, each day. Yet, here I am, perfectly sane !! J

On days when I felt really down, the support that I’ve received from my peers and my family was just awesome. While on the topic of peers, I have to mention that they are such a lovely bunch. I’m fortunate to have met so many lovely people through this course.

If anybody were to ask me “What, in the CertTESOL course, has been absolutely invaluable ?” – my answer to them would be very simple.

TP’s. The Teaching Practice Sessions !!

Through the past month, the teaching practice sessions have been priceless. It has helped me learn so much. The feedback sessions have been very valuable and extremely useful in fine tuning the areas that needed to be improved when I was out there teaching. The TPs are geared and designed to bring out your strong points as well as your weak ones. This, in effect, makes one realize that one needs to hold on to ones strong points while at the same time, work on the weak ones to improve them.

Each TP was a challenge. Each TP focused on different aspects of the English language and each TP required us to bring in many different approaches to our teaching and to get our points across to the students. I now realize that all that tweaking and fine tuning has been such an incredible learning experience.
The result being that it rounds off your abilities, it hones your skills, it flexes your capabilities and maximizes your potential. It is aimed at making you a much better teacher than you otherwise would have been. It makes you exercise all your faculties and of course, there are times when it makes you question your own competence as a teacher. Over the past one month of teaching practice, I’ve been through all of these and much more.

Simply put, it helps you evolve as a teacher.

The feeling now is one of total amazement. I’ve learnt so much in the space of the past month. Never before had I contemplated anything on this scale and never before had I imagined that it would be possible to achieve so much in just a month. The CertTESOL has, for sure, changed my outlook.

It feels totally incredible to sight the light at the end of the tunnel :).

The amount of support and encouragement that I've received over the past month from my family, has been awesome. I shall hold that feeling very close to my heart.

Last but most definitely not the least, my online friends - who've been such a wall of support, such a source of strength and encouragement. A special mention to my online voice of sanity :)) - you know who you are :)).

All of you who were a part of this journey with me over the past month, in person, over the internet, in thoughts, in wishes ........

I thank you all, from the deepest depths of my heart.


The Freshly Minted TESOL :))

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