You might have noticed that I haven’t been so active in the last few days. Well, not to worry (I assume you’ve been worrying): I’ve just been a little busy. As I work in an English-language school, this is always the busiest time of the year. People always get surprised at that. They assume that because we’re a school, we have the same schedule as state schools, and have generous summer holidays, and mid-term breaks to relieve some of the monotony that sets in after a few months of work. Yet alas, that’s not the case (we only close for 2 weeks at Christmas), and as most normal people are enjoying their holidays, my colleagues and I are working harder than at any time of the year.
And there’s a lot of work involved in a language school. Taking bookings, processing payments, arranging transportation and accommodation, hiring and training teachers, planning and booking activities, testing and placing students, dealing with their issues about classes, books, their level, accommodation, personal problems…well, there’s a lot to it. And in July and August we’re doing it for much larger numbers of students, which in the summer includes individual adults and teenagers, big groups of teenagers, and families. I’m not complaining though: I thrive on the pressure and think that it pushes me to work at my best.
I begin working in the school in 2008, as a teacher. I’m now a manager in the Academic Department, which means I deal very closely with the teachers and students. Which I like, as I liked the personal aspect of meeting lots of new people while teaching, and sharing ideas with other teachers. And working with English-language teachers is always fun. As any of them reading this will gladly testify, they’re an interesting breed of individual. The job seems to attract artists of different types, and that creative spirit really enlivens the classroom and staffroom. Though I love the challenges of management, I often miss the classroom. Currently though, I’m doing a very intensive course all about English-language teaching (and that’s the other reason I’ve been so busy the last few days!). There are a lot of aspects to it, including academic assignments, an exam, and regular tasks which mean I have to do some teaching for three or four days. I love getting to teach again, even if it’s for a few days at a time. And I hope in the future I’ll still be able to teach sometimes: I’d hate to think I’ll never teach again. Maybe that’s an unconscious reason I started this blog: to continue explaining things about English to people!
Over the summer I’m specifically overseeing our school for families, where we have separate classes for children, teenagers and adults. There’s a great atmosphere with so many young people running around, but you can imagine that we’re busy with lots of issues that can crop up when there are so many different types of classes happening at the same time. But it’s good fun and while I enjoy being so busy, I also look forward to mid-August when it starts to get calmer!
Though I do still manage to find time to have a few breaks and see some of the beauty of the west coast of Ireland, like Clew Bay in Mayo above (if you squint, you might spot Dorinish, the island bought by John Lennon which became a hippy commune after his death, and is now grazing land for cattle—I feel like there’s a song in that story…). It is the summer after all!
That’s a little glimpse into my life over the last few weeks. I also wanted to share what working in a language school is like, because a lot of people in English-speaking countries aren’t really aware of the industry at all. And it’s a big one! But even I, before I started teaching, didn’t know much about it. In fact, the school I work for is right in the middle of Galway city, and even though I’ve lived here almost all my life, I’d never noticed it.
So while I’ve neglected my blog a little in the last week, rest assured that it’s been in the service of the greater good of English-language learning in general!