In January I spent three weeks volunteering as an English teacher in my town. I've been thinking about becoming an English teacher for a while so it was a good opportunity to see what it's like. The students had all just arrived to start a new life in the UK and they had a range of levels from beginner to intermediate. They came from a variety of countries and had very different backgrounds and experiences.
For me, the most important thing was the relationship with the students. I was nervous at first and did not feel confident about speaking in front of people. However, I found it easy to build good relationships with the students as a class and as individuals and I soon relaxed with them. It was a challenge to encourage the lower-level students to speak in English, but at least they understood a lot more at the end of the course.
At first, planning lessons took a really long time and I was not happy with the results. Classes seemed to be too difficult for some students and too easy for others, who finished quickly and got bored. I found it was better to teach without a course book, adapting materials I found online to suit their needs. I learned to take extra activities for students who finished early and that was much better.
I still need to continue improving my lesson planning. I would like more ideas for teaching mixed-ability groups and I want to plan the whole course better next time. That way students have a focus for each lesson and a sense of progress and of what they've covered. I'm also going to put more confident students with beginners when they work in pairs so conversation activities give everyone more chance to speak and students can help each other.
Overall, it was a really positive experience and I learned a lot. I've decided that I would like to become an English teacher in the future.