I decided on a whim to take part in an Angloville program in Poznan last March. I saw an advert on Facebook, clicked on the link, and liked what I saw, so without giving it a second thought, I signed up. It looked like a great opportunity: the chance to get to know a new part of Poland whilst getting a taste of teaching English as a Second Language in exchange for food and accommodation.
Before I arrived in Poland, I had very little formal experience of teaching English but a lot of experience of being on the other side of the language learning process: I studied French and German at school and then university. It was the first time I had really thought about teaching my own language and what kind of processes my learners and I would go through. Participating in Angloville was a new experience for me and I learnt many new things, many of which I didn’t expect to learn. I’m going to share a few of these things here:
- It really encourages you to think about the English language. For example, being asked about the difference between ‘I’ve been’ and ‘I went’ or ‘you do’ and ‘you are doing’ or for other ways to express common words such as ‘good’ and ‘interesting’ really makes you think about your own language critically and improves your understanding of it.
- You learn a lot about yourself and about other people. The easiest conversation starters are the usual ‘Where do you come from?’, ‘What do you do for a living?’, etc, but once you’ve got past that you end up exchanging views about everything from work-life balance and food to gender roles and politics.
- Sharing your own culture is really fun. Responding to questions about the Royal Family, the British education system, and British mannerisms makes you realise that you’re not only teaching your students your language but also about your culture.
- In return, you find out a lot about Polish culture by asking your students to compare what you’ve told them about the United Kingdom to their own background and experiences. This is a really good way to stimulate conversation and keep both parties interested.
- You end up really thinking about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Personally I have a tendency to talk far too quickly so participating in the program meant that I had to learn to slow down; my friends and family are probably all very grateful. Additionally, trying to explain various idioms and expressions can make you marvel at the logic, or lack thereof, behind them.
- It shows you how varied the English-speaking world is: for example, there are quite a few differences between the English that’s spoken in the UK and the US so even when English is your mother tongue, there’s always more you can learn.
- Watching your students progress and gain confidence is incredibly rewarding. You build up a bank of ways to explain various words and grammar points which you can adapt according to each student’s questions and needs as the week goes on and I really do feel that my ability to help students and explain things to them improved as the week progressed.
- Seeing your students’ English develop is addictive and makes you want to do more teaching in the future!
I couldn’t recommend Angloville more highly! It’s fantastic for anyone who is interested in other cultures and meeting new people and if you’re interested in education or teaching English, it’s a great way to gain experience and find out if it’s for you.