Excerpt 2: The Secrets of Teaching

One of the funniest, and rudest, TEFL teachers I met on my travels was The Lord. He had never left Ecuador but his English pronunciation was better than a lot of people in my local pub back home, plus he had dirtier jokes. 

A few people who have read my book mentioned that they liked The Lord so for my second excerpt here’s the moment when I first met him. It starts in chapter 2 – The Secrets of Teaching – when I got my second TEFL job in Quito.


Almost like the views of the
Panecillo from the classrooms.
Photo waldopics

During my second week I got another job. The director of Harvard Institute, Mark, who was built like a heavy weight boxer but was as friendly as a whistling postman, was delighted by my English accent. 

“Most of our native teachers are American,” he said in his deep voice before sipping a coffee. “It’s nice to see some English blood.” He smiled as he leaned back in his chair. 
“I think I’ll keep my blood if you don’t mind.” Mark let out a low deep laugh and banged on the table.
“Good, good. Well, we need a new conversation teacher to help in class with the other teachers, from three in the afternoon until seven, four classes a day, and also Saturday mornings. You just need to chat with them in English, get them speaking and do some activities.”
“Great! What books do you use, what materials?”
“You can do what you want; normally the teachers make up the lessons. Can you start next Saturday morning?”
“Sure.”
“You will teach all ages here. You will enjoy it. They are good people.” And he was right.

I turned up on Saturday morning with no idea what I was going to teach.
“Your first class is with The Lord,” said Mark. I pictured a wise bearded man teaching English through religion.
“Don’t look so worried. Alex is his first name. Come, I’ll introduce you.” I followed Mark as he bumbled down the corridor, kids stomped about and teenagers whispered and pointed at me. 
“This is Barry, the new conversation teacher,” Mark said, leaving me in the capable hands of The Lord.
“Hey man, nice to meet you, what’s up?” he said, lifting his dark shades off his pale face. He wore a black suit, white shirt, and bright yellow tie. He cupped my hand and shook it hard.
“Hey, is it Alex or The Lord?”
“Call me what you want. The ladies prefer The Lord. Welcome to my world.” He swung his arm out towards an empty classroom. Being on the seventeenth floor, I loved the view of El Panecillo in the distance and Centro Historical underneath.
When The Lord found out I was from London, he clapped his hands and pulled his tie.
“Wow! What do you think of my whistle?”
“Lovely, mate.”
The Lord had never been to an English speaking country but his English was excellent, and he could control his class. During the lesson, none complained or muttered and all were engaged. Even while I did my part they behaved well, apart from a few random questions at the end.
“You have girlfriend?” asked one girl. A couple of others giggled and the boys jeered.
“Yes, I have a girlfriend.”
“Where she is?”
“She’s in England with her family, next question.”
“Why she no here?” I glanced over to The Lord, who was equally as keen to know the answer. “You love her?” she added. Another jeer broke out from the audience.
“Okay, let’s
change the subject,” said The Lord.
“Can you dance?’ said another girl. Maybe it was a mandatory question for all new gimpy English teachers.
“That’s enough now, let’s continue with the exercise,” The Lord said, and they stopped. They listened to him.
“How do you have that control over the kids?” I asked in the break.
“It takes time. I’m Ecuadorian and they respect me, also I know what they are saying. Did you hear them making fun of your accent?”
“Not them as well.”
The Lord laughed.
“You need to improve your Spanish, but first you need to learn the important words, come by after your last lesson and I’ll write a few out.”
I thought he was going to give me a rundown of a few ways to cope with the Spanish verbs, but instead he wrote out a list of the top twenty swear words.
“When you hear the kids saying these, send them out. They’ll think you know perfect Spanish. One day you’ll become as good a teacher as me.”
“Great, how can I repay you?”
“With more words like this, but English ones, I love them.”

I’d like to thank everyone who has bought a copy so far. Sales have been great and Teaching English in a Foreign Land has been in and out of the best seller charts for the Essay and Travelogues section, and in the Latin America best seller charts for about a month now. So cheers!

4 thoughts on “Excerpt 2: The Secrets of Teaching

  1. Just ordered my paperback copy. Eager to receive it. Congrats on your blog and on your teaching endeavors. Thanks for sharing your experience, man. All the best.
    Osvando

  2. Just ordered my paperback copy. Eager to receive it.
    Congrats on your blog and on your teaching endeavors. Thanks for sharing your
    experience, man. All the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *