The teacher that made me want to be one

Diary submitted by Silvia O., Valencia, 2020

Why did I decide to become a teacher?

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I started studying English in first grade at a school in Spain. I hated it. The methodology was archaic, focusing only on grammar and translating from the foreign language (English) to the mother tongue (Spanish) and vice versa.

Speaking was mostly ignored all year round except for the individual mandatory 5-minute exposition where you were graded on your accent and public speaking skills that you had not been taught at all during the year. 

My classmates and me could translate 25 sentences from Spanish to English using conditionals in an hour (worst exam ever) but could not for the life of us do small talk or even order a meal at a restaurant.

So, what happened then? Colleen happened. And then James. And Sophie. And Eoghan.

My mother enrolled me in an English academy where it turns out… English learning could be fun! I discovered that you could learn a foreign language like you learned your mother tongue: through songs, games, conversations, films, books…

My teacher Colleen (and the ones that followed her) taught me the value of learning a language to open your mind and learn about other cultures while having fun and developing your self-esteem and social skills in the process. Therefore, when I got the opportunity to follow their footsteps, I didn’t have to think twice about it!

D. P. Gates, an experienced TEFL trainer, posted a blog stating the 10 Reasons why you should become a TEFL Teacher. One of the reasons is the possibility of Freestyle teaching: “One of the great joys of working as an English teacher in the private sector is that, on the whole, you aren’t as restricted as teachers working in the state education system (…) we can let our creative juices flow a lot more in a TEFL classroom than in many other teaching contexts”.

I agree, teaching a foreign language outside the state education system it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread! I reckon TEFL teachers have more possibilities to be innovative and adapt to the needs of their students than teachers working in formal education. We can also take more time to answer doubts, explain difficult concepts and deliver realistic lessons that prepare the students for the real world.

D. P. Gates in his book says that there is no archetypal TEFL teacher: “The great ones have a great passion for teaching, communicating and a love of English and have developed a style which keeps them and their learners motivated.” 

My favourite teachers had that love for teaching English that was so contagious it created a snowball effect on their students where they wanted to keep learning more and more outside their classes using the skills they had been taught.

Thus, why did I decide to become a teacher? In summary, I decided to become a teacher because I had one that made me fall in love with the English language and I wanted to share that gift with as many people as possible.


G. (2013, may 27). 10 Reasons why you should become a TEFL Teacher. Retrieved from: https://www.onlinetefltraining.com/10-reasons-why-you-should-become-a-tefl-teacher/

P G. D. A Short Guide to TEFL: All about Teaching English as a Foreign Language. D P Gates.

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