Mark Rodgers

Teach Enrich Empower

Mark Rodgers - Teaching in Peru

It’s really hard to put into words what three months teaching in the jungle and mountains of Peru is like … I could tell you about the ‘rico comida’ (delicious food).

There’s chirimoya – a green skinned fruit that tastes like a sweet milkshake. Or BBQ plantain bananas split and filled with peanut butter.

I could also tell you of the huge spiders, beetles (and everything in-between) found in the teachers apartment; though I’d rather forget such frightening creatures! I could even tell you about the crazy carnivals that seem to last for weeks with their deafening fireworks and endless crowds dancing through the streets at all hours …. But none of this would paint a true picture of the colourful, determined and eccentric peoples of Northern Peru. The whole experience was truly indescribable!

I loved teaching here! For the food, the people but so much more … teaching English challenged me deeply. I had to adapt to a whole new cultural way of working. Peruvian time was a sworn enemy of mine for at least the first month of my adventure; ‘Peru time’ means anything can happen and usually does happen, but never at the time you were told because time in Peru is unimportant. Imagine arriving on time on your first day to receive your timetable and prepare classes … only to find your students are already waiting and you have no information about their level or books. And neither do they! Or being asked to switch classes (mid-class) with another teacher and take over teaching a group of young children. These situations helped me develop my teaching ‘swan pose’ – that is, learning to teach and remain calm while kicking my feet rigorously underwater and adapting to the current!

“Teaching English challenged me deeply. I had to adapt to a whole new cultural way of working.”

But it wasn’t all bad or even difficult and the good memories are plentiful. Receiving countless gifts from students – everything from local coffee to Emporio Armani wallets on ‘Teacher Day’. Showing students River Dance and sharing my culture with them. One night a proud father (who spoke no English) bought me pizza with his family and 7-year-old son, who I was teaching. The son did quite a bit of translating but between two broken languages! Much fun was had on school holidays – trips to natural sulphur baths, ancient ruins and sometimes just a bit of people watching and Yuca fries. Probably one of the most memorable nights was when I was invited to judge an English Singing Contest. The students really impressed me with choreographed dance routines and polished vocals. I felt like Simon Cowell; albeit a much nicer version!

The teaching day in Peru is quite unusual. A class in the morning. Siesta from 12 to 3 and then teaching classes from 4pm until 10pm. My body adapted to the mid-day sleep quite quickly. The lessons themselves were enjoyable and I had a mixture of housewives, little kids and teens in each of my classes. Imagine creating lessons which appealed to all groups! My creative cap was definitely on when I went to work.

Thank goodness I took the TEFL course otherwise I would have been so heavily reliant on a so-so textbook. I would be unable to answer student’s questions about a language that I have spoken my whole life, but one that has so many rules I previously did not fully comprehend. On more than a few occasions I found myself referring to the notes I had made from the online modules and the reflections from the brilliant 2-day TEFL classroom component.

Thank you to The TEFL Academy for providing me with the practical and theoretical building blocks I needed to scale the rewarding and at times daunting peaks of teaching in Peru! There were many highs along with one or two free-fall moments which I quickly overcame. But I don’t regret this experience. And I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share my culture with others, learn a new language, make new friends and inspire others on their own learning journey. This is an experience I won’t forget.

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