I am a secondary school teacher, married with two daughters and head of the English Department in my school in Madrid. I have been teaching for almost twenty years now and I feel as much like a novice as the first day because teaching is a daily experiment with unknown results. This is one of the reasons why I applied for a grant to attend a TESOL course in the UK.
After searching through different options I came across the programme at the University of Bristol for a Master’s in TESOL, which immediately caught my attention. It was just what I needed; clear objectives, attractive methodology and an interesting list of contents.
I was awarded a leave of absence from my teaching position and I moved to Bristol with my two daughters. Once we had our apartment, the schools for the girls and all the logistics organized, I was ready to begin my adventure as a student in my late-forties.
I still remember my long walks along Whiteladies road and The Dawns, the coffee breaks in the Triangle and the unforgettable colour of the sky at dusk in Bristol. There are so many memories I keep with me that it would be impossible to recall them all. I have a special place for the library in the Graduate School of Education. I spent many hours there enjoying the pleasure of learning with all the resources at my disposal. The kindness of the staff was remarkable as well as their efficient collaboration at any request.
My year in Bristol was so special for me that it stands as a landmark both in my personal and professional life as a teacher. I met wonderful people and had real contact with other cultures and views. I had the pleasure of listening to highly qualified teachers from whom I gathered an immense amount of valuable information. I also developed a better understanding of English society and its way of life.
I was challenged to exchange views with other students from very different perspectives. However, I can say now that we all shared a common frame of analysis about teaching: the role of teachers as helpers and the importance of respect and motivation in the classroom.
We enjoyed sessions on “identity” and “teaching methodology” that made me aware of the importance of each and every students´ life stories. It is from that personal root that language can develop towards communication and free expression of feelings and ideas. Classroom management is not just organizing contents and tasks; it is more about creating the appropriate environment for the person and their language to develop. Those ideas came back to Madrid with me and have been part of my everyday teaching since then.
It was in every sense of the word an extraordinary experience I would recommend to anyone eager to learn and enjoy a year abroad.
Also, I started a doctorate programme here at the university in Madrid based on some of the research design I had done in Bristol. I would have never had the knowledge and academic tools to do so without the Master’s in TESOL.