Sunday, September 30, 2012

Poetic mood...

Your words...not even cold
And here I am, being brave & bold.
Tests & games are a waste of time
In my heart, you're already mine.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

New student's frustration

The past week has been like a roller coaster. I had a situation on Tuesday when a new student joined my Pre-Intermediate class. Not only was he unhappy that the majority of students in the class were of his nationality, but they were also very young!

After a chat with my director, we both acknowledged the fact that having 7 out of 12 students of the same nationality poses a big problem. As a teacher, my main concern is that students speak their native language in the English classroom...which frustrates other learner's too. Also, students are here for a purpose - to learn English, so if they find themselves with others of the same nationality, it's only natural for them to revert to their own language.

So how are we to deal with this situation? Because the school has limited classes, example: only 2 or 3 Pre-Intermediate classes, it is very difficult to spread nationalities out evenly. And another thing - we can't stop agents from a particular country from sending 20+ students to our school every month!

I invited the new student to join me for tea during the break after the first class. I empathized with him and let him know that I understood his frustrations of having so many students (much younger than him) of the same nationality in the same class. I gently asked if he would be the "example" student to the others + one who is serious about studying and is focused.

I also had him move closer to me in the classroom so that I could give him a bit more individual attention. This seems to have helped a lot and by the end of the week, he seemed to be a lot happier :)

First Day of September

Spring has sprung! I'm ready & waiting with an open mind & heart for everything new that will be coming into my life. Wishing you all a lovely day & season ahead :) xx

Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm pensive right now...

In times of sadness & heartache, we create an illusion...a fantasy where we cling onto things/people we're infatuated with. We think that by having them, we'll be happier - when actually, all they do is bring a new set of problems! So? Be present & have gratitude for what is now, as it exists.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Re-reading 'The Four Agreements'

We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking, we take it personally, and then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. (The Four Agreements)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Re-reading "The Four Agreements

"If someone is not treating you with love & respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn't walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want." (The Four Agreements)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Highlight of my day

I'm absolutely loving teaching Elementary level!

Today, my highlight was when a student was trying to describe his black & white striped shirt.

"Colour yes, colour no, colour yes, colour no." :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Midday Thought

It makes sense: When you're infatuated with someone, you put them on a pedestal. The higher the pedestal, the harder the crash is when they disappoint you & come tumbling down from where you placed them - way up there! Bottom line - keep an equilibrium :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Good Night from a chilly EL ;)

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday I spent my special day with special people - and an overload of birthday cake!

With my brother at my Birthday lunch at Grazia yesterday

Live. Laugh. Love. Learn.

I've never been one to really "advertise" my age before / on / after my birthday, but for some reason I was really excited about turning a year older this time 'round. As many of my family & friends know, this was my "Crown Birthday".

I am determined that the coming year will be the best one yet.

My goals:


:) xx

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Birthday Eve :)

Just a few hours before I turn a year older...and I'm feeling pretty excited about it!

I'm determined that my year will be filled with wonderful things and opportunities.

I arrived in EL last night and from the airport, went straight to a "surprise" birthday dinner for my friend Carmen. It turned out to be the biggest surprise because it was a joint celebration - for me too :)

It was such a beautiful evening spent with our family & friends.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cape Town Book Fair 2012

I've just been back to the CT Book Fair for the second time this weekend. I picked up some amazing deals on international magazines and also managed to attend a talk by Paula Wynne titled, "How to Create a Writing Platform".

In her presentation, she referred to "platform" as a group/following which every writer should have.

She gave interesting tips on building a website to create ones brand, because as she says: "Your brand is who you are."

Paula's "Recipe for Success" is:

-Visualize success
-Believe: Have a clear vision
-Passion & Energy
-Inspire people
-Bestow confidence
-Motivate & stir people around's a huge buzz!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tea Time

Ginger Masala Tea with Ginger Nut Biscuits...comfort food!

A Brilliant Week!

It's been an incredible week for me. Once again, the Universe has come through for me and shown me that the recipe for success is hard work, dedication and (my favourite)...GRATITUDE!

I'm in East London for the weekend, so no doubt it's going to be a good one spent with my family! Here's wishing an awesome one to you & yours :)

...did I mention that this post was written while at the hairdresser?

VIVA Moblogging!

Friday, June 1, 2012

What is Gratitude?

A year ago, I used to dread waking up every morning. Being unemployed has been one of the most difficult things I've had to endure. Apart from being financially dependent on my parents, I felt juvenile and worthless. All I wanted was a chance, yet every opening I seemed to find kept closing up on me.

Many wouldn't believe me when I say that for months after arriving back from Korea, I saw no colour. Everything seemed grey through my eyes. As much as I wanted to feel grateful for all that I DID have, I still felt worthless and rejected. I had no idea that being unemployed would have such a crippling effect on me.

Today, the 1st of June, reminds me of how far I have come in the past year.

I am thrilled to write that these days I can't wait to wake up in the morning. My alarm goes off at 04:30 and I feel excited to get my day started.

Once again, I am able to appreciate the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, the birds chirping and the waft of ocean air that fills my apartment in the wee hours of the morning.

I'm overflowing with gratitude and as a result, my senses are awake and alive. I wake up with a purpose now. Every morning, my colleagues expect to see me in the staff room and my +/- 25 students expect me to teach them everyday.
I'm thankful every single day that not only do I have a job, but that I'm doing something that I truly enjoy putting my heart into. I'm grateful for the opportunity to provide a service to others and that by doing so, I'm meeting people from all walks of life. I love that I'm learning just as much, if not more, as what I teach everyday.

So as this day comes to an end, I'd like to shout it out to the universe that I'm grateful for the opportunities, challenges and obstacles I've faced up to now. I also feel grateful for being rejected for work last year, most of which I doubt I'd be half as happy as I am today.

Also, credit must be given where it's due, and I have to say that nothing would be possible without the support - on so many levels - of my parents whom I love with my heart & soul!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Incident in class today...

During my Intermediate class this morning, a student asked to leave the class. I assumed it was for a visit to the bathroom. I became suspicious when he didn't return after 5minutes.

While I was helping some students at the back of the classroom, I glanced out of the window across the street (we were on the 3rd floor) and I saw my student!..walking out of a coffee shop and sitting at one of their tables.

I was near livid!

Thing is, when I had a word with him later, he merely said he was hungry and couldn't understand what the problem was.

MY problem is that if one student starts doing that, what respect and authority does it reflect on me... and what stops others from just quitting class halfway and going out for a cup of coffee or a sandwich?

Working with a classroom of adults where some of them are older than I am can make classroom management a bit of a sticky situation at times.

My feeble excuses

I've been trying to figure out why I'm not writing as often as I used to before (when I was in Korea ...or even, East London, for that matter) and I could only come up with one reason:

I don't have a comfortable "writing spot" where I can just sit down and let rip with the words. Of course, I have my netbook, but the battery life isn't as strong so I need a power outlet.

I don't know... poor excuse?

Another reason is that I have been too tired to sit and type at night.
Another lousy excuse.

So much has happened (and is happening) that I need to blog about...especially with regards to TESL and teaching, in general.

...oh, another reason is my (lack of) internet access :(

I need to make an effort to blog more and not let cobwebs gather on here....which it has been doing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mum!

Happy Birthday to my dearest mum... 
Wish I was home to celebrate with her!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year!

This evening I realized that it's the end of the month and I hadn't uploaded a single post for the month. Many reasons for that, but that's another story! Uploading from my mobile, so will write a proper entry ...perhaps tomorrow :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today I made a student cry, playing "Alibi"

From Google Images

The new unit for the week with my Intermediate class is "Crime". After going through some basic vocabulary and group discussions, I asked the class to please close their books as I had something important to talk to them about.

"On Friday after lunch, my nandbag was in this classroom. I stepped out just for a second, and when I got back I realized that my purse was missing," I said.

There were gasps! They really believed that my purse was stolen.

One student had a broad smile pasted on his face as I spoke. I continued...

"When I asked the cleaners about it, they said that they saw two students in the classroom at that time. Do you know who they were?"

At this moment, the tension in the classroom was so thick that I could have cut it with a knife.

"Who was it?" they asked.

"Gabi & Gus," I said...looking at the two students.

"It's impossible," said Gabi shaking her head.
"Teacher, are you serious or this is a joke?"

Gus had a mischievous smile...he knew I had something up my sleeve.

"Will the two students please leave the classroom," I said sternly.

Gus walked out smiling, but Gabi looked extremely distressed.  As soon as they were out of the classroom, the remaining students (and I!) burst into laughter.  They caught on.  

Gabi & Gus who were outside the classroom were the "suspects" and the students inside the classroom were going to play the role of policemen.  I divided them into two groups. Police Station 1 & Police Station 2.

As I was explaining what would happen next, Gus opened the door and announced that Gabi was crying. Oh boy! I had to go outside and tell her that it was all an act...and after being convinced, she burst into laughter :-)

Gabi & Gus had to work on an alibi while the two "Police Stations" prepared questions for each of the suspects, who would be interrogated separately.  The trick? Both stories had to match... about where they were, who they were with, where they went for lunch, what they ate and so on...

The students ended up having such fun interrogating the two, and of course... declared them both guilty!


When my alarm went off at 04:00 this morning, my first thought was, "At last...Monday's here!" I was excited to start the new week, but driving to work this morning, I realized that I would be faced with empty seats in my classroom. I was dreading this.

As I mentioned on Friday, I bade farewell to four of my Brazilian students who have been with me for the past 3 weeks. Friday's have become one of my least favourite days of the week. However, when the new week starts, new students have orientation on Mondays and they join their respective classes on Tuesdays.

When I arrived at my second class for the day, the atmosphere was completely different without my four Brazilians in the classroom.  I missed walking in and seeing Dulciene and Fernando doing their homework; I missed seeing Glauco with his intense concentration on his iPad and of course, Luiz who would trail into class ever-ready for a hug & kiss.

Anyway, before long we will all be back into some kind of routine. No doubt, they are all missing Cape Town just as much! I do hope they decide to visit S.Africa once again in the near future!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In love...with my work!

Yesterday, I received such a lovely compliment from a young lady I've known for a short while since moving to Cape Town.

"You're happy! Your face is just glowing!" she said.

I jokingly responded, "Does it look like I'm in love?!" to which she replied "YES!"

I tilted my head and said to her, "I kinda am..."

Of course, she was intrigued! "You ARE?"

"Yes. With my work!"

Truth be told, I am loving what I'm doing! I'm so happy to be back in the classroom teaching after a year off. Of course, teaching children was very rewarding, but teaching adults has completely stolen my heart.

I am meeting people from all over the world with such interesting professions and each one pulls at my heartstrings in a way they probably don't even realize.

My special Pre-Int class
This past Friday was a bit emotional as some students ended their course and they were on their way back to Brazil the following day. Four students in particular - Glauco, Dulciene, Luiz and Fernando - all from Brazil, were part of my Pre-Intermediate class who I just fell in love with.

This class was very special, with students from Brazil, Angola, Libya, Turkey and France. We just all got along very well. We laughed a lot and at the same time, while having fun, they were learning just as much.

Their spirit and energy were infectious and seeing them everyday for the past 2 weeks brought such joy to me. Waking up at 4am, working non-stop till 5pm, coming home and working more till 11pm was only a pleasure for them.

I think I can safely say that I was being driven by passion.

My work feels like play!

On Friday, my Pre-Int students had to give oral presentations on any given topic. Honestly speaking, I sat there in awe! These students, at Pre-Intermediate level got up in front of the class and spoke with such confidence in a language they are studying. They spoke with such ease and I was so proud of them!

I know for sure that I will miss their presence tomorrow (Monday) in class, but by Tuesday I will have a new batch of students and new bonds will be formed yet again.

I feel very grateful for our paths to have crossed, and I sincerely wish them all the best for their future endeavors!

Mini breakthrough with my Korean student

On Tuesday last week, during my 30minute break between classes, my student (JY) from Korea said to me, "Sheetal...this will be my last week at school."

Suddenly, I forgot about where I had to be and what I had to do. JY had just been at school for 2 weeks and can easily be described as a model student. He's in class early, does his homework, reads, goes to the Listening Center for extra practice etc... so why did he suddenly want to pack up and leave?

I asked to meet him after school and talk it through. I am so honoured that he opened up to me as much as he did. He felt like he wasn't making a lot of progress. I responded to this by telling him that learning a new language is not magic. He can't expect to suddenly speak fluently within a few days. It takes work...for some, very hard work, determination and a strong drive.

As we spoke more, I found out that he is staying with a Korean family very far from the school. This means, that he has no opportunity to speak English when he leaves school at the end of the day. So when he comes to class in the morning, he hears about what other students got up to the previous night and what they plan to do later that day.  JY was feeling isolated. He told me that he wants to have contact with other students from foreign countries, but he feels shy and not confident enough.

My heart sank for this young guy who traveled halfway across the world, determined to study English, but was feeling completely isolated and lonely. Because he confided in me, I felt obligated to help him.

I told him that I see something very special in him, which he may not recognize himself. I suggested he try moving closer to the school and would be able to socialize a lot more with other students.

The next day, I spoke to the school's director who asked to meet with the student and me later that day to talk this matter through. We gave the options of various accommodation near the school.

On Wednesday, a few of my Brazilian students decided to go to the Cubana, restaurant/bar with me and I asked JY to join us. That night, I could see that given the opportunity...JY would really enjoy his time in Cape Town.

The following day at school, I paired him up with Gabi from Brazil for a speaking activity. The two got along so well and had fun working together.  A week later, I am just delighted to say that JY has decided to extend his stay in South Africa! I told him that one day when he's a father and grandfather, I would hate for him to think back to this time and regret not listening to me...his teacher to not give up.

From a business perspective, it's never good when students decide to quit in the middle of their course to go back home. Teachers know that as long as there are students, there's work.  Having said that, as teachers we simply cannot ignore the fact that our students - our customers - are human beings with real emotions and feelings.

Time is precious to teachers, but spending anything from 10-30 minutes talking to a student, stroking their ego and making them believe that YOU believe in THEM can make a profound difference!

When a student's light is switched on

Last week, my student (Ben) from Switzerland spoke to me after our Intermediate class and said that he felt the level was too high for him and that he wanted to move to Pre-Intermediate.  This almost never happens, because students usually want to move UP a level! He speaks fairly well and I could see that he had potential to do very well. I told him I'd give him extra homework so that he could practice his writing. I was happy that he agreed to this.

Within a week of talking to him and praising him in class when he got correct answers, he completely changed. As a matter of fact, he even started coming to class early and walked in with such a lovely smile on his face.

I'm sure any other teacher will vouch that it's such a wonderful feeling when a student's "light" is suddenly switched on.

I'm very happy that he decided to stay in my class and not move down a level.  Also, he now believes in his capabilities as much as I do!

Monday, January 16, 2012

When students need a boost of confidence

Last week, my Intermediate student (Ben) from Switzerland asked to speak to me after class.

"I think this level is too high for me. Maybe I should move down to a lower level," he said.

I couldn't believe it, because as teachers, we often hear that students want to move UP a level. He said that he understood most of what I was saying, but he felt like he was weak in his reading and Grammar. I suggested he give it a few more days in the class and also urged him to visit the library and listening center in the school.  On top of that, I told him that I was going to give him extra writing homework. I asked him to think very carefully about his request as his speaking is rather good - contrary to what he believes, and I feared that a lower level would just be too easy for him.

When I met Ben the following day, he said he felt a bit better from since he spoke to me.

Today, however - Ben walked into the classroom like a new student. He literally held his head up high, participated in the lesson and seemed much happier than he did last week. As a teacher, I was so thrilled to see him break out of his shell.

In my opinion, all Ben needed was to have his confidence boosted! I told him again today, that I would make it my mission to push him to his full potential in his quest to study English before leaving back to Switzerland in a few weeks time!

Warmer - Ice Breakers using Cellphones

After a tweet from @ShellTerrell (": Ice Breakers Using Mobile Devices   via  "), I decided to try it out with my Intermediate & Pre-Intermediate classes the following day.

My students know the "No Phone" policy in the classroom, so they were a bit confused when I asked them to take their cellphones out.  I asked each student to please find a photograph, video or song on their phones which best represented them. For those who couldn't find anything like that, I asked them to locate something that was special to them. Then, in about 20seconds each student shared their photograph, video or song with the rest of the class

Phones were passed around, there were "Ooohs & Aaahs" about beautiful locales and before long, we realized that our class actually had more in common than we thought.

It was a great ice-breaker to the first class of new students and it is something I will definitely be doing again. We often forget that for many people, the one thing people enjoy talking about the most, is themselves...and when one has an audience, let's face it - they love it!

Teacher's who are willing to spend the first 15-20 minutes at the beginning of a lesson just to get students into "lesson-mode" should try this out!

2012 - So far, so good!

After briefly chatting about my blog during a much-appreciated phone call from a dear friend this evening, I logged onto my blog and couldn't believe that my last post was last year! Unacceptable... However! I have been consumed with work over the  past few days, and by the end of a working day, my brain feels a bit fried.

These days when people ask me, "How's your teaching going?" I can't find enough words to describe just HOW much I am enjoying it!

2012 started off very well and after the (short) holiday, it felt like I hit the ground running! I teach Intermediate & Pre-Intermediate levels in the mornings. I have library duty during the lunch break and just last week, I was given the afternoon class, Survival English.

My days have been rather long - starting at 4am (I try!) when I wake up right till about 11pm when I hit the sack.

"...but teacher, aren't you tired?" my students would ask. I believe that my energy stems from 3 sources:

1) Early morning exercise
2) Berocca Boost
3) I love what I do

I've been fortunate to have a great bunch of people in my class, from all walks of life - from countries like Brazil, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Angola, Libya, Cameroon and more! Professions of my students range from teachers to lawyers to an optometrist.

Above all that, I'm also very fortunate to be working with a great bunch of teachers who have such a vast knowledge of teaching - whether locally or abroad.

I've said it time and time again - that as much as *I* am the teacher, I'm learning just as much from my students every single day!