Nothing lasts forever. That’s true for most things in life but in ESL those changes can feel massive. This week’s blog is all about changes. We’re in the process of making changes this week. It’s change-over time, some of our students are moving even some of our teachers are moving. All of our classes are changing in some way. This week I am going to talk about… that’s right. You guessed it. Changing classes, changing levels and of course changing teachers.
OK so we’ll start with the biggest one: changing classes. About every 12 weeks we change things up. That means that we look at our students, their progress and the course and we make a decision. The teachers sit down and think “who do I need to move?”. It’s based entirely on student progress and not on how much your teacher likes you… or dislikes you. I promise. When students change classes, it causes a lot of upheaval. Sometimes students don’t feel immediately comfortable in their new environment, so they complain. Our classrooms are all tried and tested learning environments, so we know it doesn’t stop you from learning. What the classrooms can be is a distraction. Most people don’t like change, so it’s actually entirely normal to feel a little strange in your new environment. The layout might be different and so might your classmates but remember the most important thing. Everyone is here to learn. You can make new friends in a new place and if you think about it, you probably did it before when you came to the UK for the first time. You went to a brand-new place and you met brand new people! You survived! Once you’ve done it once you can do it again and again. It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity to progress, I swear.
This is another big one for some students. As soon as you’re happy and comfortable in your level suddenly it becomes time to “level up”. This means that the material will likely become harder. Full disclosure: a lot of grammar and vocabulary is repeated, so you don’t have too much to worry about. Now a lot of students can feel apprehensive about this. Learning a language is a difficult journey and we need to have a nice strong base before we move up. Think about building a house. You have to build the foundation really well and then the walls and then you can decorate it. (Do you remember the Your English house blog from a few weeks ago?) As we add more and more detail and less and less structure, we need to be more and more confident that the foundation and structure that we already have is strong enough to withstand anything. That is why changing levels is so daunting. Sometimes we want to stay in our old level. This can be because we feel comfortable in that level and we don’t want to experience the challenge of moving up. Or we are scared about the difficulty spike. Your teacher knows how these courses work and what is required of each level, so they’ve made a calculated decision. Trust us, but of course if you really don’t like it, come and speak to us. At the end of the day, we just want you to feel happy. Remember that changing levels can also mean moving up as well as down. Sometimes we consider moving down to be going backward or like we’re not learning. Sometimes we look outward to blame the teacher. Sometimes we feel bad about ourselves. Nothing should make you feel good or bad, the most important thing, is that you are learning. Sometimes we need to reduce the intensity of the content you’re learning, because we need to make sure you have the basic elements in place. Overall, it’s about you and your progress and sometimes a step back allows you to leap forward.
This is the biggest drama in our school community. Every. Single. Time. You meet your teacher, lovely. You learn to trust them, oh they’re really good. You start to like them, they’re kind and friendly. You feel like this is the best teacher for you. Great! Then they’re gone. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. People don’t like change and boy oh boy, do they complain. Our number one complaint is about students having a new teacher. Changing teachers can be very difficult because change can be difficult. Remember that all of the teachers here at UKCE are CELTA or DELTA qualified, degree holding, professionals who have weekly training and skill updating sessions. We take our jobs very seriously and must demonstrate an ability to teach a range of levels, topics, grammar points successfully. This means that we know that it isn’t the quality of the teacher that causes a complaint, it’s the change. Obviously, every teacher is different, for example, there are activities some teachers find more effective than others. The difference in teacher is ultimately beneficial for students. Different voices, different accents and different techniques all benefit you.
These are the things to be thinking about this week as you relax into the groove of new classes and a new situation. Enjoy it, embrace it and grow.