Maria – Greece
My name is Maria Alamanou. I own and run a private FL school in Athens, Greece, where I also teach full time. When I started out seven years ago, I only taught English as a Foreign Language. French courses followed the next year. This year saw the introduction of two more European languages: German and Italian. So, apart from my many administrative responsibilities – along with a home and a ten-year-old son – I have loaded myself with the extra tasks of Course Director in four different languages, schedule coordinator, PR officer and a whole lot more that you can only begin to imagine. It is a one-woman show, but I am not complaining.
Study a TEFL course with TEFL Zorritos in Peru, South America and travel the world, live abroad and enrich people’s lives by teaching them English. A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certificate is an internationally accredited and accepted qualification to teach English to people from non-English speaking countries. More questions? Head to our What is TEFL? page
This is a true account of a difficult day. It is also a snapshot of the realities of the EFL situation in Greece.
I can’t believe it’s 7.30 already. My son’s yelps leave no room for doubt. Some thing or other to the effect that he is going to be late for school again. AGAIN? I spring up, out of bed and into the kitchen, groping my way along. Something feels wrong and it’s not the usual, familiar, cosy drowsiness that I’ve grown so close to lately. Well, no time to fret over it whatever it is. Two gulps of strong coffee and there I am, behind the wheel, driving my son to school.
As soon as I am back, a violent sneeze sends me running for the thermometer. I am running a fever alright! Wonderful thoughts flood my head of a long snuggle in bed. I have a good excuse. But there is no worse kind of teacher than a conscientious teacher. Ask anyone! The words of one of my first employers start creeping through my brain: “A good teacher never falls ill.” The emphasis is on the “never”. Down go two antihistamine pills and out the door I go, on my way to work and the first one and a half hours of classes for today.
Our TEFL Certificate course is held at the gorgeous Sunset Club in Zorritos. Sunset Club is a private club and hotel where you will study surrounded by palm trees and overlooking their stunning private beach. Our training site is located within metres of the ocean which provides a lovely breeze and a breathtaking view. The club has various swimming pools, bars, a restaurant, tennis courts, a soccer pitch and a playground.
Included in your TEFL course fee is lunch daily at Sunset Club for the duration of the course, as well as a private taxi twice daily from your accommodation to the club, as it is located approximately 15 minutes from the centre of Zorritos. You can also choose to stay at the club for the duration of course, which we offer in our Course Packages.
It’s an intermediate-level English class (11- to 13-year-olds) and I have known the kids for about five years. They’re good kids, considerate and kind-hearted, and immediately offer to see me safely home and back into bed where I belong: “You, ill, Miss. No lesson. Hooray!” You see, English is fine by them when it comes to singing songs or watching soaps but, let’s face it, it’s never been their strong point. It is definitely not their strong point at 9.00 o’clock in the morning, either!
Putting on a brave face and my best morning smile, I tell them there is nothing to worry about and beckon them to their seats, which they won’t take until after I’ve promised to translate a song for them at the end of the lesson. My voice has started cracking by now and my throat is sending up flames. Teaching eight restless kids, freshly out of bed, and completely oblivious to the mechanics of the social aspects of the Passive Voice while shivering and half-sleeping yourself is no easy task. I tell them so and beg of them to go easy on me, if only on this one morning. I said they’re good kids. They sympathise with me and dutifully fill page after page of notes in silence. Mind you, their spontaneous response has nothing to do with the promise I made them not to tell their parents how badly they’d done in the last vocabulary test.
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At ‘class dismissed’ I steal a look at my watch and it’s only 10.30 a.m. Fridays are not the best of days as I teach till 13.00, break for lunch and some rest and come back at 17.00 to resume teaching till 22.30. That’s on a good Friday. On good Fridays there are no administrative matters to see to between 13.00 and 17.00. But this is not a good Friday. A phone call around midday informs me that on Monday evening I have to attend an oral examiners’ briefing session for the upcoming exams in November. Disaster! I have to arrange for stand-ins for my Monday classes, which at such short notice is not an easy thing to do.
Glassy-eyed and hazed-over by a record-breaking temperature, I shuffle through the heap of paper on my desk and – hey presto! – I come up with the employees records, from which to pick ‘volunteers’ who would be willing to put in a few extra hours on Monday evening. It’s only 13.30 in the afternoon but I feel the weariness of a whole week’s work weighing heavily on my shoulders, which are aching anyway! There’s no way I can see this Friday through, I think to myself. But I will see it through because, despite what my former employer seemed to think, even good teachers fall ill. But even when they do fall ill, good teachers teach by example. If I am to be seen to flinch from a minor sickness, what lesson do I teach to my students and colleagues?
TEFL Zorritos: What could be better? Study in a beautiful Peruvian beach town, great accommodations available, including delicious local food. Fully accredited 160 Hour TEFL course with a practical approach that provides you with 5 advanced certifications at absolutely no extra cost! And guaranteed job search assistance in whatever city/country you want to work, waiting for you when you complete the course.
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