The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Sunday, February 15, 2009

CELTA Jan-Feb 2009

I'm back from my training in Berlin and looking forward to my new career as an English language teacher. I feel like I should be writing about the program in detail; suffice to say that it was very intensive but I did well. This entry is more about the people I had the privilege of getting to know.
Let me first introduce them....

Teacher trainers:

Nationality: British
Age: late 40's?
Our fearless leader.

Nationality: British
Age: early 40's
This woman can hang!

Nationality: Australian
Age: early 40's?
A superhero in disguise.

Teacher trainees:

Nationality: American
Age: mid 50's
Good home training.

Nationality: Irish
Age: 23
My little Irish rose and an honorary North American.

Nationality: American
Age: mid 30's
Too smooth to be Harry Potter; has a very odd concept of 'squares', though.

Nationality: American
Age: late 20's
No feedback on Friday, please!

Nationality: Australian
Age: early 40's
The best Aussie accent ever and half of the Bradley-Chadley Bridge.

Nationality: American
Age: 51

Nationality: British
Age: 23
Cute as a bug's ear. I love his 'lovely'!

Nationality: American
Age: 37
My best buddy and the other half of the Bradley-Chadley Bridge.

Nationality: British
Age: 58
"Ooohh, Nooo!"

Nationality: American
Age: 24
'Should have' stayed out of the smoking room.

Nationality: Swedish
Age: early 20's
NOT from Stockholm!

Nationality: British
Age: 22
My kid

Nationality: British
Age: 24
A tender heart but still....

These are the people I just spent the last month with. I lived with a couple of them, ate with all of them, and partied with most of them. We studied together, laughed our asses off together, ridiculed each other and cheered each other on. The impact they have had on me is immeasurable. I went to Berlin to better myself professionally. Little did I know how my personal life would be enriched. We all have our own stories; different backgrounds, different cultures, rhotic and non-rhotic accents but we share a common bond. Teacher trainers and trainees alike; we are all vagabonds with a love of travel and a thirst to see the world. So often when I talk about the places I've been I feel like people think I'm trying to impress or brag or something. But here was a group of people who, between them, have seen most of the world. We bonded not just because of our shared experience in the CELTA program but because we are all like-minded people. Nobody batted an eye at the fact that, at 50, I quit my job, sold my house and bought a one-way ticket out of the country. My story was not unusual.

I've talked with a few of my classmates over the last couple of days since I returned to Mannheim. We all seem to be feeling the same sense of loss... that of each other. Not only did we spend the last month together learning how to teach English grammar, how to write detailed lesson plans and how to grade our language to the learner, we became friends. I will remember each of them always and there some who have a permanent place in my life.

I learned how to be a teacher in Berlin but the true treasure of this last month is in the faces of these people...

(left to right)
front row: Peter, Annika, Kate, me, Helen, Annakiska and Dan.
back row: Gui, Tom, Charlie, Dominic, Daniel, Brad, Chad and Michael.

Talking Skunks With The Brits In Berlin (C, C, T and D.....I told you this would be the title!)

When I was getting ready to leave for the CELTA program four weeks ago it somehow never crossed my mind that, at some point, I would find myself sitting in some little bar in the Berlin suburb of Kreuzberg with a guy from Tennessee trying to explain the smell of a skunk to three young 4 in the morning. But that's where I was and that's what we were doing. Actually, I don't think Charlie and Daniel were listening but Chad and I gave Tom, who has never been (pronounced 'ben' not 'bean' if you're from Tennessee!) to the U.S., this very detailed explanation of what a skunk smells like, how hard it is to get rid of the smell if you've been sprayed and how people just have to comment on the odor anytime they smell it (“Ew, do you smell that?” “Yeah, there's a skunk around somewhere.”).
This was an evening that had started out at a different bar where we had gone to an open mic performance night with several of our other classmates. The event was hosted by a group of expat Americans and Brits living in Berlin, one of whom was also in the CELTA program with us. It was very cool, sitting with friends and beer, listening to whoever wanted to get up on stage perform whatever they wanted to perform. Some people read their own poetry. Some read from the works of well known poets. A few people played guitar and sang. One woman did a monologue from her upcoming one woman show and another read from a short story she had written about spending her summers in India when she was a teenager. A couple of performers left us kind of scratching our heads saying, “Huh? I don't get it.” but overall it was very entertaining and a lot of fun.
When it was over, around 12:30, some of us just weren't ready to call it a night yet so we went in search of someplace to continue our, ahem, intellectual interactions. Well, that and... more beer. We found the beer but somehow the intellectual interactions deteriorated into talk of skunks, Bullshit Bingo, and Chad's knowledge of dirt. It then deteriorated further into to a substantial debate about what exactly does Daniel's recently coined term 'Man and Boy' really mean. Once understanding had been checked with a few concept questions we then moved to the free practice stage of the exercise. That of determining just who in our extended group actually possessed the qualities required to hold the coveted title of Man and Boy. This took a while. Needless to say, the next day we were all feeling a bit below standard.