This August, on the 9th, will mark my first year since I came to Switzerland to live and work here. I plan to throw a small party to celebrate the occasion!
Well, there are so many things that have changed in my life in general, like adapting to a new country (which was very fast and smooth, thanks to the wonderful people), a new way of life, but I have realized that my teaching has changed a lot as well.
Here are some of the changes I have noticed:
* I have only taught Greek people in the majority, as I taught in Greece previously, in a small city not so diverse. Here I teach English to people from all over the world, which is my favourite thing: incorporating culture in the classroom in practice – real people who share their stories about their beautiful countries and cultures, food, art, history – you name it! They are so interested in learning about my background as well (they like the combination of Canada and Greece) and they come up with great questions and comments, which get them thinking about the next ones. And they learn English in the process too!
- I am now officially in the shoes of the language learner. With English as my first language and Greek as a near second (I started learning it properly at 8 years old), I also speak satisfactory Italian and have a pretty good understanding of French. Living in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, I have decided to learn German out of respect for the people and country who have so warmly welcomed me, but also because I would like to learn another language and improve as every day goes by. I still make a lot of mistakes, learn from them and most importantly I have to practice what I have been preaching all this time – try to think in the language you are learning. Which is easier said than done, I must admit! I do come out with some really awkward-sounding sentences as I sometimes translate from English in my head. And then I remember what I have been insisting on with my students these ten years: try not to translate and try to think in the target language.
- Switzerland is a great place for professional development for teachers of English. There are so many great workshops, seminars and conferences going on everywhere. For teachers who constantly want to improve and be informed and see great speakers, it is essential to keep up with these events. This is what I used to do when teaching in Greece and here I can continue, given the endless opportunities of such events. Another positive point is that Switzerland borders with countries where great conferences are held, so in the future I look forward to attending events in these countries as well.
I am very excited to be living and teaching in this beautiful country! I am even more excited to see what more I will learn here… and when I will be able to speak German well … and at the prospect of many other things to come. Danke viel mal, Schweiz! (“Thank you very much, Switzerland!” in Swiss German.)