Thursday, 22 April 2010

Communication, leadership and fruit

For seven years Greig Martin has been teaching in Barcelona. I figured he must have some things to say about his experiences so I decided to ask him some questions.

Why did you choose to become a teacher?
- It started as a hobby two evenings a week when I worked in stock exchange in Ireland. In Barcelona I asked for work in the stock exchange but they asked for my level of Spanish and Catalan, which was zero. They offered me a job sorting mail; I said no thanks and decided to change my hobby into a profession.

What do you like about teaching?
-Autonomy, leading, helping people achieve their goals. I find it fun to make a measurable impact on people’s lives, a change that you can notice.

Do you have any advice for someone who hasn't got much experience of teaching? What should they have in mind?
That you're guiding a bunch of people through a forest. You might not know everything that's in the forest but it's important you know your destination and help them get there. Knowing grammar and specific vocabulary points, don't worry, that can take years before you know all that. You just have to get them to the one point that you're doing with the class.

What is the most important characteristics of a great teacher?
Patience, leadership, patience, communication and more patience.

What is the most challenging thing you've done as a teacher?
Now I’m mainly organizing costumed courses for different multinationals, with students of different professions in the classes. It’s continually challenging to try to make that class very useful to them as individuals. The most difficult thing was when I had to teach the names of fruit and vegetables in four different languages, for one of the largest fruit companies in this part of
Spain. It was very boring, but at least now I know the name of all different fruit in four different languages.

What would you advise a person coming to teach in
Just do it. I came with one sentence and not a lot of teaching experience. So I had a big drive to learn Spanish because when you really want to speak and need to speak on a daily basis you can learn it very quickly.

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