Girl Meets World
By Ginny Tonkin staff blogger
Girl Meets World is a multimedia look at the sights, sounds, and insights of experiencing a different culture through teaching English as a foreign language.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: October 24th, 2010
Not Dead Yet

Two weeks into this intensive English teaching certificate course in Ho Chi Minh City, and I feel as if I should just set up a cot in the trainees’ room at the ILA Vietnam English learning center. Talking with a group of trainees at dinner tonight, most of us haven’t had a day in the past two weeks where we didn’t at least stop in at ILA for some errand. With the exception of last Saturday, I have made a trip to the center everyday since the course started. I’m such a lucky girl that it’s only  a five-minute walk that separates me from the photocopier on the fourth floor. I swear these CELTA courses must be personally responsible for killing at least one rainforest each month.

This is my excuse for not posting for two weeks.

I feel as if I’m in a time warp. The days blend together, and I’m never quite sure if it’s Tuesday or Wednesday or… Sunday?

Mornings are spent in the classroom. We teach every other day and observe in-between. Nights are either spent writing up lesson plans, traveling to other ILA centers to observe experienced teachers, or completing written assignments. In other words, we spent a lot of time thinking about teaching whether or not we’re actually in front of a group of students.

So how am I feeling?

Karaoke Crew of CELTA trainees

Karaoke crew of CELTA trainees

Tired, but otherwise fantastic. We have a great, international mix of trainees from the UK, Australia, the Philippines, Canada, and the US. Some of us have taught for years. Others are brand-new. Some are career-switchers, some just need further certification, and some are just launching out after college (or university as everybody else in the English speaking world calls the post-high school educational experience). Spending as much time as you do with one another in this course, you tend to get close. We eat lunch together, plan lessons together, go out together, watch each other’s backs, belt out karaoke classics like dying cats together…

Last Tuesday was my birthday, but to celebrate, we hit up a karaoke bar on the weekend. Asian-style karaoke limits your public humiliation by separating your group into your own personal room. But the pictures you take during your session become newly minted blackmail, making up make for the fact that you didn’t have to sing in front of strangers. Karaoke’s my new favorite hobby.

Two weeks in marks the halfway point through the CELTA course, and the trainees and I have all had our mid-way evaluations. We each meet with one of the trainers who currently observing your group. Our trainers are all British, and the one that I am assigned with for this week reminds me of a curmudgeonly frumpy but direct Mr.Bean. Although often a bit understated as a Brit, especially in comparison to overly complementary Americans, I know I can trust whatever advice this experienced TEFL trainer has to say.

I sat down in my evaluation, and waited for the verdict. “You’re more than competent, Ginny. You’re shaping up to be a good teacher.” This might have well been a congratulatory high five from this guy—made my day.

I have good rapport with the students, good classroom management, and I make good materials. BUT, I need to work on clarifying the meaning, form, and pronunciation (MFP), of vocabulary and grammar. These things will come with time, I know. Hey, at least when I ran into one of my students at the park, he told me that I was a “perfect” teacher, because my lessons were interesting. Now I just need to make sure I keep all my CELTA assignments on track to achieve that “pass” grade.

Much more soon; wish me luck for my reading lesson tomorrow morning!


While waiting for my next blog post, you can check out my YouTube videos on the player to the right. The latest is from my morning routine where everybody comes out the start their day early exercising in the park.

Posted in: CELTA, Uncategorized
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