Saturday, December 31, 2011


As I write this, it's 11:20pm on Saturday, December 31 2011. I'm sitting on my dad's recliner which I have come to LOVE since I arrived home last week :) Also, I'm catching up on some recorded shows.

I'm thinking back to last year this time. My brother was out at a gig and my parents were asleep. I was sitting in the lounge - watching TV. I think it was around 11pm when dad joined me in the lounge. We watched a bit of Ghost Dad (Bill Cosby) and before we knew it... it was midnight. Dad & I wished each other and he went back to sleep.  

Me? I tried to pacify Zelda, our little Jack Russell who was afraid of the fireworks that had started.  I think I may have even uploaded a blog post just after midnight. I think I tried promising myself that I would try and upload a blog post as often as possible - maybe even on a daily basis!

I was feeling a bit low - so many people were raving about the rocking parties they were at. All with loads of friends. Truth be told, I don't have friends in EL anymore. Everyone has moved away. 

This year is so different! New Years Eve didn't phase me AT ALL. There were a couple of times throughout the day that I had to remind myself that it was December 31.

I've already blogged about what a dark year 2011 has been. So many people I know have lost loved ones, have fallen ill or have just experienced bad luck. That is why, I am so very happy to be home - with my parents & Zelda...and I am very excited to welcome 2012. I have a sneaky feeling that it's going to be so much better than this past year.

Have I made any resolutions? Not really... but, I do know that there are things I'd like to improve on - physically, emotionally, mentally & spiritually. I have realized that many of the realizations that I have made lately comes with age (did I really just say that?!).

Anyway - there are 10 minutes left of 2011. So, let me wish you...a very Happy New Year. I hope and pray that the coming year will be a good one for us all... in health, wealth, peace & happiness.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for

  • health
  • have two healthy parents and brother
  • have food to eat everyday
  • have clean clothes to wear everyday
  • have running water to take showers everyday
  • ...having a clean and warm bed to sleep in every night
  • ...spending quality time with my family this holiday season
  • ....being able to go back to CT to a job.
  • ...the Christmas gifts I received.
  • ...being able to see 2011 thus far - hoping next year will be even better.
  • ...the medium of blogging to be able to express my thoughts & feelings openly.
  • ...SO much more, which I know in my heart I am most grateful for.
What are you thankful for today/this week?

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues. -Cicero

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Late for class...again!

Image from Google Images

A few students - especially in my morning Intermediate class - have been arriving late. Class is meant to start at 09:00 sharp, but I have been lenient with students arriving as late as 09:15.  

It goes without saying that students who walk into a classroom after the lesson has commenced is a disruption - not only to the teacher who has to pause the lesson until the late student has settled, but also to the other students, who made the effort to be on time.

My Int class has predominately male students and two female students. Both females have expressed their annoyance regarding latecomers - which is beginning to get out of hand.

I have discussed this with some of my colleagues, who have suggested that I put a sign on the door saying that late students should go home. The exception is, of course, if they have a note permitting them to be late (or absent).

I'm not sure if I'm very happy to send late students back home and have been wondering what alternative I can use - perhaps something like a writing exercise to do as homework (as a form of punishment?)

However, with all due respect, these are adults we are talking about and if they don't take responsibility for themselves, then who will?

I'm interested to hear from other teachers: How do you deal with latecomers to class?

Monday, December 19, 2011

A few minutes could make a difference

This is my third week with my Pre-Int & Int classes so it's no surprise that I've gotten to know their personalities and moods by now. This morning, when one of my students, who I'll call "A" walked into the classroom rather quietly instead of his usual smiling face, I immediately knew something was up.

I quietly asked him if he was alright. He said no. I asked if he was sick. He said no. I asked him if there was anything he'd like to talk about, and he said he'd tell me after class.

A is in his early twenties. He's sharp, witty and generally a nice guy. So when he spoke to me after class and told me about his "problem" I felt two things. Firstly, I was glad that he felt he could trust me enough to open up and tell me what was bothering him.  Secondly, it reminded me how each and every student comes with their own unique background. Within 90 minutes, I travel between Cape Town, Brazil, Columbia, Angola, Saudia Arabia and many other countries. Each student in my class has some story to tell. They're mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives etc. After a 90 minute lesson, I feel more rejuvenated than tired - believe it or not!

Being a teacher does not mean merely teaching. It means learning just as much as the students. It means empathizing, but at the same time being cautious so as not to become emotionally attached to students.

We have to remember that a language school is like a business. As teachers, we are the service providers and the students are our clients. Each "client" has a particular need and it is up to us - the teacher - to ensure he/she is comfortable as many have traveled far and wide to be here in our country to study English.

By just taking a few minutes of your time to chat to a student, you could be making a big difference for him or her. Just by knowing that somebody cares!

Borders are for people...

For the past few days, I have been mesmerized by the opening lyrics of a song from the Bollywood film, Refugee (2000) directed by JP Dutta, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor. With music by Anu Malik and lyrics by Javed Akhtar, the song Panchhi Nadiyan Pawan Ke was sung by Sonu Nigam & Alka Yagnik.

Panchhi nadiyan pawan ke jhoken (Birds, rivers, gusts of wind)
Koi sarhad naa inhe roke (No border inhibits them)
Sarhaden insaano ke liye hain (Borders are for people)
Socho, tumne aur maine (Think about it, what have you and I)
Kya paaya insaan hoke (Obtained by being born as humans?)

Many of us are taking emotional stock take of our lives as 2011 draws to a close. This song speaks about what it means to be born as a human and how birds, rivers and gusts of wind have no borders which inhibits them. I don't know about you, but it's almost as if I envy birds, rivers, mountains, flowers and trees. Compared to these natural beauties, we are on this earth for far less than they will be. As humans, we continue to be arrogant, we hate more than we love and we worship material goods far too much.

What does it mean to live a simple life?

For me, it means having few or no material items. Think about it - the less we have, the less we have to worry about it. How often do we go away on holiday and immerse ourselves into complete relaxation mode? More often than not, we're worried about our home that is locked up and guarded by a security alarm. A house filled with valuables. Electronics? Computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players, DVDs. The list could go on.

Imagine what life would be like as an animal - either wild or domesticated. What about life as a plant? As a through harsh weather conditions, yet still remaining strong and majestic.

Simply put, we live in a harsh world. Deadly diseases and crime rob us of our loved ones on a daily basis. We gossip about others to feel better about ourselves and kill our soul with that six letter word called "STRESS".

If you're reading this, no doubt you're a fully functional person. We can't suddenly transform into a sunflower, river or a mountain. However, while we're here on earth, let's try to love "things" less and people more.
This brings me to another quote I read recently:
People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved...and people are being used.
The more I think about it, the more I would love to be reincarnated as a part of nature - a bird who soars freely through the open skies, a mountain - standing tall and proud, or a rippling brook...drifting into a river and the ocean. Never-ending. Without any borders. Borders are for people.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My very own "Mind Your Language"

It's been a week since I met my two classes (Intermediate & Pre-Intermediate). My students hail from all over the world - literally, namely Angola, Brazil, Columbia, Turkey, France, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Ivory Coast, Canada, Taiwan, Vietnam, Egypt, Belarus and Yemen! I'm rather proud of myself that I know all student's names - which, of course, sounds very exotic to my South African ears!

My two morning classes (focusing on General English) is 90 minutes long. Sounds like a long class, but in fact, I wish it were longer. Conversation seems to snowball in the class and interesting debates have ensued over the past few days.

The past week has taught me so much, especially how we, as native English speakers take the language for granted. What we regard as "basic" or "everyday" words actually seem to be problem areas for some of my students.

The topics covered so far have been Business and Health. This week, my Intermediate class is studying the unit on Design, while my Pre-Intermediate class is focusing on the Natural World. For each lesson that I prepare, I'm learning just as much as what I'm teaching my students. Sometimes I feel like I'm back at school with the Grammar aspect of it. I must be honest, though - it's not as grueling as I thought it would be...yet!

Some of my friends have joked around saying that I sound like "Mr Brown" from the old British sitcom, Mind Your Language. Honestly speaking, I do feel like Mr Brown - without the intense classroom fighting and minus the pompous principal, Ms Courtney!

Mr Brown & his colourful students in Mind Your Language
Speaking of which, I work with a fantastic bunch of people. Each teacher brings something very special to the staff room.  Many have either traveled extensively or have had several years experience in this industry, making the work environment a very stimulating place to work in. There's always some kind of interesting conversation happening - whether it's about books, theater, teaching methods or lesson idea's.

Everyday when I leave a classroom, I take a bit of my students with me. I love that even though I'm a teacher, I'm learning from them - about their respective countries and cultures - every single day.