Aktualisiert: 25. Nov 2020
As I changed my career from reception class teaching in England to ESL (English as a second language) teaching in Austria, I read many websites from other ESL teachers to gather ideas about how it all works. I am setting up this blog in the hope that I can be of support to others going through the same process. I would also love to hear ideas that you have to share, we are each others best resource. My following posts will be practical advice based those light bulb moments that you have as a teacher when you think "why didn't I do it this way all along?!". I will also share my ideas of best practise derived from many Years of working within the guidelines EFYS (Early Years Foundation Stage) in England.
However, this first entry is the story of how I found my feet in the world of ESL teaching.
New husband, new country, new career
I entered ESL teaching in 2014 when I moved to Austria to be with my now husband. As a passionate Early Years teacher with a new TEFL qualification, I was excited to embark on a new path in my career, teaching ESL to the young children. Having enjoyed a leadership role as reception year group leader but not fancying any of the management positions above me, this seemed like a great opportunity to take on a new challenge. I could keep learning new skills but stay exactly where I love to be. In the classroom with the children.
Should I join a Franchise or go it alone?
I had a great head start from a lovely English teacher in my town who was moving on in her career and suggested that I take over her kindergarten classes. So here I was, children ready and waiting for me in two local kindergartens, feeling excited and nervous, ready to take the plunge and wanting to get it just right. Now came the first challenge that faces all new ESL teachers. How should I get started? Should I join the franchise that my predecessor had left? Do I attempt to create my own scheme of work from scratch? Do I buy a scheme of work and follow it? Time was running and I was suddenly feeling slightly at sea.
I ruled out joining a franchise as I wanted the opportunity to learn as I taught and change direction as I felt fit. However, I still wanted some guidance to get me going, in particular, on the pace at which I can expect young children to learn a new language when attending a weekly lesson. So I decided to buy a scheme of work. For me, this was a great decision. I followed the vocabulary progression suggested, all the parts of the scheme of work that I liked and added my own ideas. I had really positive experience teaching kindergarten children this way for two terms.
Along come my babies
Then along came my son and 18 months later my daughter. The next four and a half years passed in the wonderful whirlwind of a mummy. My husband and I spoke our native languages with our children everyday (German and English). I learned first hand what children are capable of when it comes to language learning at a young age. Now I have two bilingual children who think nothing of switching between their two mother tongues. I am in awe of their linguistic abilities!
During this time, I was lucky enough to find two lovely playgroups. I made so many happy memories watching my children interacting with new friends, trying out new craft activities, and singing and dancing with me during circle times. They added structure to our week and gave me a chance to enjoy some adult conversation and a sense of community in my new home. During those two hour sessions, I was able to relax away from the distraction of the never ending beeping of the washing machine and cleaning waiting to be done and just enjoy my children.
I learned so much from my children's fantastic playgroup leaders and felt inspired. I often found myself imagining how I would run my own English Playgroup. I could offer mummies all of the benefits that I had experienced and the children the benefit of being exposed to the English language. I could give the mummies a chance to practise their English (something that so many told me that they needed). I loved the idea of bringing a little of my old life into my new one by continuing to share English songs, rhymes and stories with children.
Feeling bolder and ready to take on the world of ESL teaching my way
As my daughter was approaching 3 and getting excited to join her big brother at kindergarten, I was getting excited to start working again. This time I was armed with both my experience as an Early Years teacher and an ESL teacher and I wanted to combine this knowledge to start something of my own. I felt that I could to engage and motivate the children better through more playful and physically active English lessons. I drew on all of my experiences in Early Years classrooms and designed my English Owls lessons and my English Rabbits playgroup sessions. The Early English Club was born!
Over two terms, my English Rabbits playgroup and English Owls lessons got into full swing and were everything that I had hoped they would be. Then everything stopped suddenly due to the Coronavirus. That brings me to today, another new beginning on the horizon as I am now looking for the best and safest way forward for the children and parents in The Early English Club. We will be meeting again in September but under new social distancing rules. Here's to the next chapter!