Life in the classroom in Ecuador had its ups and downs, but on the whole TEFLing was a positive experience. (This post is as seen on the i-to-i TEFL blog)
How was TEFLing in Ecuador?
Compared to Spain (where I am now) the teaching was a lot more relaxed. The Ecuadorian students were lively and in most classes they tried to make me dance at some point. To start with I felt shy, especially with no music, or beer, but as time went on their enthusiastic high-on-life attitude rubbed off on me and I happily danced for a bit; as long as they provided the rhythm with a decent clapping beat.
The teenagers were charged up. Often they would interrogate me about whether I’d had sex with an Ecuadorian woman yet, and some males students would openly ask me what I thought of some of the female students. It was all harmless fun so I wasn’t bothered and just laughed it off, but be warned.
In two of the schools I focused on grammar, reading, and speaking activities. I had to invent and prepare the classes myself as one of the schools didn’t have the material. This was hard going for a new TEFL teacher, but it gave me a good insight into how to construct a lesson.
In another school I was the official conversation teacher. Each afternoon I rotated round four different classes and did speaking activities, debates, or pronunciation games. The only downer was that the normal teacher usually stayed in the class so I felt as if I was being spied on the whole time.
To begin with, the students found my British accent difficult to understand because they were accustomed to an American one, but after a couple of weeks they began to pick it up.
The other teachers were mainly from Ecuador, but there were a few from Africa. We all got on well and had fun, each bringing their own experience into the academies. One of the best moments was the Christmas staff party, after a few beers all the African guys were teaching the Ecuadorian ones how to dance. We ended up in a karaoke bar. They all sung better than I did.
As it was my first experience teaching I had very few negative moments in class. I was just happy to be there; living the TEFL dream. The only shocker was when one of my female adult students asked me if I believed in God.
“I don’t actually,” I replied. “My father is religious, but I wasn’t really brought up like that.”
“So you don’t believe in Jesus?” said the woman, tightening her lips. I could sense the tension.
“Err, well, that depends.”
“I know he existed of course…”
“So why don’t you believe in him?”
“Let’s move on shall we,” I said, not wanting to offend anyone.
“That’s what I’d expect from an Englishman,” she said, “coming from a country which is only famous for its hooligans.” I bit my tongue and smiled.
Best student award
My best student while in Quito was Pablo, a ten-year old energetic lad. I taught him in a small class with his sister, Mila, and their friend Diana. They were a handful to start with, but Pablo was always keen to learn more. He used to call the others “BAD ASS” if they were being naughty, or to me if I told him off. I didn’t mind though because he was a happy kid who just wanted to learn some English. At the end of the course he made graduation hats for all of us.
Overall I liked teaching Ecuadorian students. They were family orientated, mostly well mannered, and appreciated the fact that their teacher was a native speaker (unlike some of my Spanish students). Most couldn’t work out why I’d left my family and was travelling round the world, but the few who did made me realise how lucky I was. A lot had never left Quito and could only dream about leaving Ecuador.
It would be great to hear from anyone living the TEFL dream out in Ecuador, drop me a mail or leave a comment.