The Language Experiment: 100 days later…

I like learning. I have always had, and always will, probably. 103 days ago, to be perfectly precise, I decided to learn simultaneously two languages, after reading several articles about the benefit of it. I already talked about that experiment, if you recall: I chose two languages that I already encountered, German and Italian. I began learning Italian at five, German at 12, but my level was beginner in both (because let’s be honest, I forgot every damn thing).

So, I started using Duolingo, because I have read an article about a security guard who learnt six languages using the app (and it’s free). At the beginning, I did between three to five exercises a day in each language: it was easy, the sentences were totally lame (I mean, come on! « Io parla con l’anatra » ? That literally means « I am talking with the duck »!) but it was okay, I was a student, I had a lot of free time. I progressed fast, well, as fast as I could, within a month, I went from 10% (knowledge of the German language) to 20%!

Then, I started my CELTA. Spoiler alert: it was hard to keep up.

Remember during 58 days, I was doing three to five exercises per language. During CELTA, when I managed correctly one per language, I was super happy. Like truly, freaking happy. But I never stopped, and reached to 100 days. According to Duolingo, I have now a knowledge of 29% in German and 20% in Italian (A1/A2)

Some thoughts about the experiment:

-I am going to continue, of course! I want to reach at least 50%  of knowledge in both of the languages, and I will add a third one at that point. That’s the whole point of the experiment, right?

-I am better in German than in Italian. French is my mother tongue, but since my brain is mostly working in English, it’s actually easier for me to learn German, which is really close to English (yes, it is! The vocabulary is so close, it’s astounding!)

-Learning through an app is hard. Nobody is helping you, nobody explains why you are wrong. I bought some books to help me, but I need actual people to speak with. In short, that’s why we need flesh and bones teachers.

Next article on that subject? In 97 days….

CELTA week 4: we did it!

Now, I can breathe again.

As you probably know, I had to resubmit every freaking assignment. I didn’t put enough details, I didn’t get the instructions right the first time, well, basically, I didn’t like the written part of the degree! But I managed it, and passed on resubmission three out of four assignment, and passed every TP. At 5 pm today, I received my result letter, saying that I passed my CELTA.

It took me a year. A year ago, I applied to do a CELTA in a parisian school, which rejected me because my level wasn’t high enough. As a result, I decided to prepare for the Cambridge Proficiency Exam. I got accepted at the University of Grenoble shortly after that (English trainer degree – I graduated a month ago) and passed my TKT (in March). I can’t believe only a year passed.

I was scared, to be honest. I stressed out every day of this final week. I thought that I had failed my written assignments: I need to work on my academic English, I suppose. I thought until yesterday that I wouldn’t make it. I never put so much energy into something else before. It was exhausting, but it was worth it.

Breaking news: in a week (because I need a break, come on), I will be a teacher at BEET language school, here in Bournemouth, for two weeks. It’s just a temporary position, but I feel really lucky that I had the job in the first place, especially in an international school.

A new adventure is waiting for me in September… Business English!


CELTA week 3: bye bye tranquillity

Do you enjoy staying awake at night?

Do you love writing down papers?

Do you like to do and re do the same thing all over again?

Welcome to CELTA, week 3! Not only you will plan your lessons, but you will also lose confidence in yourself like you never did before (#dramaqueen).

The assignments have a purpose, all of them, but they are tricky. I had to resubmit every one of them. I hated myself so much, I stressed out every night for a whole week, I had no social life for a week, but at the end, I get it. I understand why. Teaching practice is something, the written assignment are another, and we need these both to get the CELTA.

I honestly thought that I was more stupid than the others. I thought I shouldn’t be here, that I stole someone’s spot. But during tutorials, my tutors told me « you enjoy practice, that’s the main thing. The written assignments will be done in a week. » They were right. We need to pass at least 3 out of 4 to get the CELTA. 3. I didn’t steal someone else’s spot.

If you have to resubmit, that’s not a problem, it doesn’t matter. But if you fail your teaching practice, you will fail. Week 3 is probably the hardest of all, but at least, you will understand why you are here: to become a (great) teacher.

CELTA week 2: bring it on!

(Technically, I am already on week 3, but whatever)

After a good first week, I was really anxious about that second week. I was afraid that my lesson plans would not be enough, that I wouldn’t be enable to improve my handwriting, or that my tutor will realize that I don’t like grammar at all.

We were teaching a group of 9 adults, Upper Intermediate (B2), a lovely group really motivated and focused. I managed a friendly atmosphere, created the « perfect » lesson… and forgot to xerox my text (and it was a reading lesson, of course). But I learned something that day: always come clean. I came clean to my students: I explained that I forgot to xerox that precise page because I was too busy talking to another colleague about .. my so called perfect lesson.

Today, I came clean again: I forgot to pre teach a word (we are now teaching a Pre Intermediate class – A2). I came clean, explained that I had forgotten that one, and explained. They got it, they were actually pleased to realize that their teacher was not a machine or a walking dictionary.

In CELTA, everything is intense. I never worked that hard in my life, despite everything. But the most valuable lesson I learned on week 2 is that we are humans after all, and that we shall not forget it. It’s okay not to know a word right away. It’s okay to check afterwards. It’s okay to ask a colleague to xerox the freaking text you forgot. Come clean. The students understand the struggle.

At the end of my week, I was very sad to leave my Upper Intermediate class. I learned to create activities for them, to bond with them, to share info with them. I learned from them. We switched on Friday evening, and we are now teaching Pre Intermediate.

Come on, Week 3, show us what you got!

Yes, Doctor Who can be a female

I wanted to write today about my second week at CELTA but something else came up and just couldn’t avoid it.

« The next Doctor Who will be a woman! »

« Have you heard? The 13th Doctor Who is a female ».

I received 3 texts within an hour and saw 25 posts on Twitter. And I have to admit that I don’t get it. Doctor Who is an alien: it can be a male or female, by definition. Also, it’s a fictional character, so basically, there is nothing to yell at, considering that it’s just entertainment. Why are people freaking over that fact?

Because it apparently matters. Because for some reasons, some people cannot be female. Whatever we might say, whatever what Gloria Steinem might do and fight for, whatever our praises for Malala, whatever our hypocritical #genderequity, it’s still upsetting, for some people to see a woman as an iconic character, and worse, a strong, independent one. I mean, do you imagine the other way around?

We couldn’t care less.


My first week of CELTA: thoughts

I have been waiting for this since a long time, well, since I discovered what the CELTA was. I got in March into ITTC, in Bournemouth, England and finally began on Monday the 3rd of July. Here’s a little anthology of some thoughts which crossed my mind on that very first week of CELTA:

-Gosh, that’s going to be intense!

-OMG, I don’t understand one of my colleagues’ accent!

-I need to study my grammar. Really. (5 minutes later, after my NS colleague did the exact same mistake as I did) Okay, we all need to study our grammar.

-Don’t talk too fast!The students are here to learn, not to witness your personal impersonation of Lorelai Gilmore after three coffees.

-Are they going to think that I am not a good teacher because I am French, so sometimes I have to check details? (hint: they don’t freaking care!)

-Is it normal to freak out every single day?

-I may need to do again my Proficiency, or the IELTS, if I want to work abroad, to prove my level.

-One week is already gone, 3 more to go!




I am finally at peace with myself

I used to think, as a teen, that my life was miles away from what I truly wanted. I thought that for a long time, to be honest, long after my teenage years. I blamed myself for silly details for so long, it’s actually laughable. Ten years after high school, I finally made peace with myself, and it feels good.  Took me twenty eight years to understand.

I probably mentioned earlier that I am half Italian, so my maiden name is Italian (I took my husband’s name quite recently also). I am bi cultural: I grew up simultaneously in two countries. My Italian may be rusty but that doesn’t change the fact that my childhood memories are there. When you are a teen, or a kid, I guess it’s complicated to understand that you have two cultures, that you belong in several places when you are actually struggling to understand who you are.

Being bicultural is a part of me, something that I couldn’t deny. Believe me, I tried. I tried to become someone else, tried to stifle myself, which is a schizophrenic move, I do realize that now, because I was sabotaging myself. I decided to go to business school instead of following language studies for obscure reasons as well.

I am millions miles away from what I thought I would become. I got lost on the way, but it’s okay. I mean, I just began my CELTA, I moved from Lyon to Bournemouth, I hold several diplomas on several subjects, I speak fluently 2 languages, still learning 2 others, I already traveled a lot and the best is yet to come.

It was worth waiting.