A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about english teaching

Latin America in Germany

Rostock


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At school this week, in addition to more normal lessons there was preparation for a show, which was performed yesterday to parents but only within each class rather than to the school. I did Modern Cinderella with my class, though a more streamlined version compared to what I did with the older ones a couple of weeks ago. It was better for it and we had more time for scriptwriting and rehearsal too, though there were still definitely parts which could have been better and I know what tweaks to make to the process next time.

During the week we had food and a drink or two at the same brewery on Wednesday and Thursday, and yesterday we went to a Mexican/ Latin American restaurant/ cocktail bar for our last night together. There was salsa dancing to watch, a wood-fired grill, cheap but delicious cocktails during Happy Hour, and I had an amazing Argentinian steak with a baked potato with sour cream.

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It was a wonderful way to bring to an end the week in Rostock, the three-week period most of this teaching group has spent together, and my five-week winter teaching contract.I'm spending the next week between Berlin and Prague before I fly home. Although I'm widely travelled, for some reason I have never been to these two cities. Time now to put that right...

Posted by 3Traveller 08:06 Archived in Germany Tagged germany salsa cocktails brewery rostock english_teaching argentinian_cuisine Comments (0)

In the middle of Austrian wine country

Deutschlandsberg


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When I arrived in Deutschlandsberg last Sunday after a smooth 55-minute train journey from Graz, I was picked up from the station by the guesthouse owner and taken on a brief driven surprise tour of the town, including the little castle which lies on a hill overlooking the town. Deutschlandsberg lies in wine country, as I could see from the fields of vines on each side. There was an amazing view from the castle; apparently you can get married there - a stunning setting, to be sure. I'd heard that it contains an interesting museum; this turned out to be true, but apparently it's closed for the winter. The restaurant there - a very good one, apparently - is also closed until April.

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The town itself is small but very pleasant to walk round, with colourful buildings, market stalls, a peaceful atmosphere and some Konditorei for coffee, hot chocolate, beers and cake.

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This evening we climbed one of the hills surrounding the town.

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The course I was teaching this week went well. It was general English, which I have lots of experience in, but for the first time ever I had to prepare one of the groups for a show. It felt quite strange to be acting more like a drama teacher than as an English one. The show was good considering how little time they had to create a script and rehearse (it was a 4-day course rather than the normal 5), though there were definitely areas that could have been more polished. The story that the class and I came up with was a modern retelling of Cinderella with some role reversal and the appearance of one or two characters from other fairy tales.

It was an informal show, only performed to another class rather than to the whole school and/ or to parents; I was quite grateful for that because it was my first Show and because of the said lack of enough rehearsal time! Next week there isn't a Show because it's an exam prep booster course, but in my final week of this contract there is one, so I've already had a couple of ideas for how to streamline the deciding-on-the-type-of-show and the scriptwriting stages.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:06 Archived in Austria Tagged landscapes market austria english_teaching fortifications deutschlandsberg Comments (1)

Mödling


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I've had an interesting week in Mödling, 14km southwest of Vienna. I was teaching Business English - it felt a little surreal, teaching in a secondary school context. I'm used to teaching in private language schools, without the school bell (or rather buzzer) ruling lesson lengths! Six classes a day, five minute breaks between classes, with one ten-minute one; I've never felt so rushed - but the students were lovely, I enjoyed it, and the early start meant an early finish in comparison to that of British schools.

The students' end-of-week presentations all went very well today! They were presenting companies they'd invented, their best-selling product, market research, how they would market them, etc. Of the four from the class I worked with the most, one was exceptionally good, one very good and two good. I felt very proud - a bit like how I imagine parents feel, in fact!

Regarding the town, apparently both Beethoven and Arnold Schönberg lived in Mödling for a while, almost exactly 100 years apart. Schönberg's house is now a house museum, but along with Mödling Museum, it is currently closed for the winter. Oh well. I managed to have a good look round the lovely historic old town. Highlights included the grey heron I spotted in a stream...

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...the old town hall...

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...general street scenes...

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...and the Catholic church of St Othmar, which I found perching on a hill overlooking the town.

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It was gloomy inside, but quite interesting, with some nice stained glass, a candle stand which I made use of, and a Nativity scene surrounded by real fir (or maybe pine) saplings - I thought that maybe they were keeping it up until Candlemas.

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Along one wall there were carved stones which I thought might have been memorial plaques, though I couldn't make out what the pictures carved into them actually were of. Next to the church, on the terrace outside, there was a locked up tower - I found out later that this was a charnel house, so maybe being locked up was for the best!

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I had a good birthday yesterday. Both classes sang 'Happy Birthday' to me in English first thing. I asked them how to say 'Happy Birthday' in German, just to see if I remembered correctly; apparently (in Austria at least) they just say 'Alles gute'.

In the evening we went out to an Asian restaurant, where I had some vegetable gyoza and fried noodles with pak choi. I was too full for pudding, but noticed 'Bambus Schnapps' on the drinks list, so after finding out that it was bamboo, I simply had to try it. It came in a glazed square pot, and to be honest the immediate taste wasn't nice at all. Once that had gone, however, I could really feel a pleasant warmth spread inside me. I've often heard about the warming qualities of certain spirits, but this was the first time I'd actually felt it.

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From the restaurant we moved over the road to a hotel bar. I was thinking of trying another schnapps, if they had an interesting selection, but they didn't have any (a rarity, apparently), so I had a delicious kahlua coffee instead - double espresso, kahlua, coconut syrup and a scoop of walnut ice cream.

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Then we suddenly realised what the time was - 22:10 - and that I was late for my family video chat, so we power-walked/ jogged back in subzero temperatures to the guesthouse.

A very long Flixbus journey tomorrow; I'm staying in Munich for the night before catching another Flixbus to Bregenz on Sunday.

Posted by 3Traveller 01:43 Archived in Austria Tagged birds austria christmas german english_teaching moedling birthday_celebration Comments (0)

Update on blog: The new chapter

Luton

Edit from April 2019: Although I am writing this now in April, I am dating this entry to this January so that it sets the scene for the upcoming entries which will be about events which happened from January onwards.

This is the first entry of the new chapter of this blog.

All 261 entries previous to this one were originally posted on the Travelpod travel blogging site, which closed down in July 2017. The vast majority of entries were written between May 2013 and August 2015, while I was teaching and travelling abroad and at the actual times I experienced the events I wrote about; only a very small amount of entries I wrote up later, using to help me emails I'd written and photos I'd taken at the original time.

From my return in 2015 until January this year I taught EFL continuously in the UK and also went on some trips abroad (Argentina & Uruguay, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Luxembourg, Italy & Vatican City, Poland, Belgium and Georgia) and within the UK (Scotland, Cornwall, Rochester, Oxford, London, Manchester, Chester, Liverpool, the Peak District, Leicester, Brighton and Birmingham).

In January this year I started a new teaching job, still teaching EFL but within state schools in mainland Europe. Before I left the UK I decided to resurrect my Teaching & Travelling Abroad blog, this time on the new platform of Travellerspoint, to include my upcoming trip and any other future working trips abroad I may do.

As in part one of this blog, I won't post any names or similarly identifying information about schools, teachers or students.

So here goes!

Posted by 3Traveller 03:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom english_teaching Comments (0)

Last teaching day

Veliko Tarnovo


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Today was the last day of the language school's academic year, and so my last day of work. It has been slowly winding down for a while though - the young learner classes all finished at the end of May (when they finish their academic year) and the exam preparation classes have also already finished. I only actually had one class today; a small, absolutely lovely Elementary class which I've really enjoyed teaching. They were very kind when I was saying goodbye!

I forgot to mention it in previous blog entries, but speaking of kind goodbyes, I was taken to Stratilat Café for lunch last month by a one-to-one student as a thank you for helping her pass the CAE (Cambridge Advanced exam). After we'd finished eating she gave me a novel called 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett, set in the 1960s and described as 'the other side of Gone with the Wind'... sounds like an interesting read! She said that she hoped I would remember her every time I read it. Of course I will - she was an absolute pleasure to teach!

Last Sunday 'R' and I had a leaving party which was supposed to be held on the terrace in the sunshine, but unfortunately for once the weather failed us and the rain forced it into my flat instead. We had a great time anyway! Lots of people came and we had loads of food - mozzarella & tomato salad with red pesto, homemade hummous, flatbreads which I cooked ultra-fresh so people could eat them straight from the pan, green salad, a ham selection, strings of preserved sausages, sirene (feta-like) cheese, snezhanka (a yoghurt & cucumber salad), bottled roasted red peppers, olives, salted & buttered popcorn... There was cake which someone made, too, but I didn't have any space left for any!

Last Thursday I paid a visit to VT's Archaeological Museum. I know it sounds a bit silly but I didn't realise it was there until only about a month ago! The entrance is quite hidden away and there is a distinct lack of signage and advertising of it, compared to other attractions here. I love visiting archaeology museums - wish I'd found out about this place a lot sooner. Anyway, although not quite at the same level as the archaeology museums in Varna and Sofia, it was definitely worth visiting. It had some prehistoric objects, finds from the nearby Roman town of Nicopolis ad Istrum (which I visited on 21st March; see my blog entry here), Tsarevets Fortress when they were reconstructing the Patriarchate Tower in the 1980s, some votive tablets and figures of gods and goddesses, some Roman toys made of clay and some other interesting artifacts.

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One or two other out-of-the-ordinary have happened within the last two or three weeks - small enough not to merit a separate blog post each, so I've saved them up to put in one together;

- A couple of weeks ago it was a very misty and cloudy day; so much so that little sun was getting through. Both windows in my kitchen/ living room area were open. All of a sudden a swallow flew inside one window, circled the room and flew out of the other! When I looked back out of the window I saw loads of them circling round. My flat is on a ridge with valleys on both sides, so I have a wonderful view. I'd never seen so many swallows in the air in one place before, let along so high up yet level with my eyeline.

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- A week or two before the swallows incident, I was sitting in my flat doing something or other when suddenly I heard a voice on a loudspeaker getting louder and louder and then fading away. I rushed to the window and looked down but I was just too late to see what was going on. Ten minutes later it came back again and I saw that it was a circus advertising ploy - a small truck with colourful billboards on the back. It was clearly going round the town in circles, raising awareness. The third time it came round I was ready with my camera and managed to get a picture.

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- Two Friday evenings ago there was a Sound & Light Show with the accompanying soundtrack available to all - not sure what the occasion was (usually the soundtrack, apart from the bells, is only for a group of paying customers). It was a lovely balmy evening with a clear crescent moon. It was wonderful to hear and watch the show again, though bittersweet for me because I knew it was probably the last time I would hear it.

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As I said, tomorrow I am off to my first post-work travel destination; Skopje, Macedonia! I will have to go via Sofia. This is my plan for the next month and a bit; all of this worked out by ourselves, as we are travelling independently rather than with any tour company.

Veliko Tarnovo - Sofia - Skopje (Macedonia) - Sofia & maybe Mount Vitosha (Dave joins me here) - Veliko Tarnovo - Istanbul (Turkey) - Cappadocia - Izmir - Selçuk - Ephesus - Selçuk - Izmir - Istanbul - Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria) - Sofia (Dave flies home) - Veliko Tarnovo - Bucharest (Romania) - Sighișoara - Budapest (Hungary) - Home (UK).

Now that I've finished writing this, time now to down the road with 'R' to meet up with the other teachers for a drink or two at The Bestseller. A cocktail I think, or some Kahlua on ice or Malibu & Diet Coke.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:20 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged parties birds museum bulgaria veliko_tarnovo english_teaching fortifications roman_remains tsarevets_fortress bulgarian_cuisine Comments (0)

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