Josef Clifford

Teach Enrich Empower

Josef Clifford - Teaching in UK

Having just graduated from university and with a fresh TEFL Academy certificate, I decided to find a summer job in TEFL to see how I liked it. I soon landed one at Bradfield College in the Berkshire countryside, working for Pilgrims, who run prestigious English language summer camps around the UK.

The ethos of the school is based on integrated learning and there are only three rules: speak English, have fun, and make international friends. The theme of the course was Desert Island and all students and staff were split into four teams: Pirates, Sea Creatures, Sailor’s and Savages. For the next four weeks I was a sea creature, Jellyfish Joe.

Each morning we’d be singing the banana song or dancing around chanting ‘what’s that under the hat’ whilst students guessed a mystery item for the chance of having a strawberry thrown at their gob. This was the morning meeting, an hour of mayhem to prepare the kids for the day ahead. Last on the morning agenda was ‘Darth Tuck,’ who’d present the deal of the day in our overpriced tuck shop before the kids eagerly followed the teachers to their classes.

This was my first experience of classroom teaching and although I only had 11 students, it was daunting initially to be the one in charge. Students came from all over – Russia, France, Spain, Portugal, Angola … to learn English at the Pilgrims Summer camp. They were here for two weeks before a new batch came along.  I was thrown in at the deep end for sure with my first class and the other staff agreed all the difficult students had ended up with me. A couple of students were adamant not to participate in any activity. In fact one of them climbed out of the window when I had my back turned.

“Students came from all over – Russia, France, Spain, Portugal, Angola …”

However, the second batch of students were much mellower bar a few crazies and my class was fantastic. They all got involved. I’d learnt a lot from my first class: which activities worked, lesson structure and content, but also on discipline. Last time we’d set up the class rules early, but the students hadn’t really paid attention. This time I introduced forfeits, first five star jumps, then to dance freestyle in front of another class. It worked a treat because it gave a light tone to the rules, but they still took them seriously.

Lessons were meant to be fun and interactive, with students doing most of the talking. I was there as more of a guide, introducing a topic or grammar point and then getting them working in pairs or groups. Getting them talking was the key.

In the afternoon there were all kinds of activities, from sing-song to football to dodge ball to loom bracelet making. My first evening activity began with an intense game of Chubby Bunnies and ended in a full-blown food fight, although it was the staff who had most of the ammo!

After this experience, I would love to carry on with TEFL and after finishing my masters’ degree plan to use this experience to work abroad. The TEFL Academy course I took was very helpful at providing a base understanding of grammar and experience in lesson planning and structure. I feel it was an essential passport to prepare me for a job in the field. For any new junior TEFL teacher, my advice would be to make sure you set your class rules early and have a handful of ‘emergency’ games up your sleeve.

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