Liana – Crete
My name is Liana Kokkaliari. I work as an English language teacher in state primary schools in Crete, Greece. I have a permanent working position, that is, I’m not a substitute teacher, that is, I don’t run the risk of not having a job…
This year I work at two primary schools, one in the small town where I live and the other in a village 25 kms from home. Given the fact I worked in a primary education office for the past two years, which means I didn’t teach at all during that period of time, I am now trying to recover from the shock of being back in the classroom.
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What I like most about the village school is …the ride, the amazing landscape and the feeling of living in a less polished world. Actually in a not-at-all-polished world.
It’s very cold and windy today. It was snowing when I left the village. If someone had seen me driving (because there are hardly any cars on the way home), they would have thought I was drunk. I was driving all over the road rather than in my lane, as the view was beautiful. Mist and clouds and autumn colours (winter has just started) and the villages perched on hills and chimneys smoking and patches of grey and white in the sky. There was a dead hedgehog in the middle of the road too but if you live in this country you have to live with such a sight. I thought about stopping and putting the animal on the roadside but I … didn’t.
Well, no, I didn’t have a dreary week; I’m just describing a “normal” day.
Things have changed since I started this diary. I feel less paranoid now and my classes look more neat and organized. The children have somehow got used to the fact I’m one of their teachers and I have come to the point of caring about them and treating them affectionately (yes, that’s me!) I do feel tired though as I spend too many hours every day preparing my lessons and working out ways of facing serious issues, such as behavioural problems, learning difficulties, brain-dead pupils etc.
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Oh well, I’m not going to talk about the other teachers nor about my professional development; not even about my feeling of helplessness every time I try to express myself in English. After years of repeating, “Yes, this is a pencil case!” I think my language proficiency level can be described by that sentence. I’ll tell you about the test I gave to class 4, that is, 9-year-olds. So everybody was preparing:
Are you all ready?
write your name where it says NAME. Don’t forget to write the date and your class…
“I want to ask something”,
Yes, one minute, is everybody ready? Where is your pencil? I’ll give you a pencil. You must all have pencils and erasers and sharpeners when you write a test.
“Miss, I want to ask something”,
“Yes, Emma, one minute, your name, write your name, yes, it’s Monday, it’s on the board, it’s not much, you just have to write words. Look at exercise 1…
“Miss, I want to ask something”,
Waaaait, does anybody have questions? No? Emma wants to ask something. Let’s listen (sudden pause, nobody talks!), is it about the test, Emma?
“Anyway, what is it?”.
You can’t imagine. I bet all the stars in the sky you won’t find it. The question was: “Miss, God created two people” , “Mmmm… Yeees…” “So, how did English appear?”
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I provided an awful explanation: “Well, I think that God has nothing to do with creation”. They were shocked! Nothing to do with creation? I understood it was the worst answer ever. “This cannot be proved but it’s just an idea; that’s what I suspect anyway.” Aren’t I ridiculous? They’re taught Religious education and they talk about the Lord of Creation and all that, not to mention stories about saints and the Bible and the Testaments and there’s the modern Darwin, the English teacher, telling them about the laws of evolution. Thank God (or whatever…), Rafaella came up with the right answer: “ Miss, I know what happened.” Triumphant look. My little spaced-out girl. “What happened, Rafaella?” “When we watch films with God and Christ at Christmas and Easter, God and Christ speak English.” That’s it! English has always been spoken on earth since the I-don’t-remember-which bang in the most probable universe.
But there comes the atheist English teacher (horrible person really!) saying, “The people who make these films are American, that’s why they speak English.” I might as well have told them about the theory of relativity – not in detail, though… They were speechless and totally lost. But that’s when the good old test saved the credibility of God, the Americans and the English teacher: “We have only 30 minutes for the test. Hurry up because the bell will ring!” And everything was forgotten.
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