Teachers on holidays… are still teachers!

I’ve just had a week off, so I went off on holidays. After a whole year of teacher, training, writing, talking to students, parents, helping those who needed the extra help or a supporting word (or hug!)… I tried to fool myself, thinking I would be able to completely tune out of work by simply not looking at emails from work. But one doesn’t stop being a teacher just because she is not teaching…

It starts out quite subtly, really… a song you hear playing that you immediately identify features in it and think of groups / grammar / vocabulary / theme that you can work with the next students you get.

Then you go to a bar / restaurant and read really bad mistakes in the translation to English, those who make you cringe thinking of the miscommunication (or total failure at it!). Do you tell the waiter / maître about it? I do – most times. I usually call the waiter and introduce myself as an English teacher and point out the mistake(s) I’ve spotted and what they really mean, suggesting the owner finds someone who really speaks English and can translate things and changes it. Does it work? Probably not most times, but my conscience is clean. I have to admit that on the back of my mind I save the mistake to use it in a lesson, to show my students the dangers of literal (and online!) translation.

The full blow might come when you have a foreign friend visiting, and they interact with your friends who barely speak English. And you have to hold back the urge to correcting any mistake your Brazilian friends make. You understand that form and accuracy is not as important if communication is achieved.

And that makes you think about your lessons. Of focus on form, meaning and use.

We never stop being teachers. Not even on holidays.

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Cecilia Lemos has been working with ELT since 1993 and is an Academic Coach for Educate Bilingual Program. She has worked a teacher trainer, writer, coordinator and teacher, presenting at local, national and international language teaching events. She’s a member of IATEFL’s Teacher Development SIG committee. Her main interests are feedback, correction and lesson observation.

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