And it begins! (for real)

What a wonderful, glorious, stressful, mind numbing, nerve wracking, exciting, stimulating, confusing, friendly, strange and productive week this has been! This was my first real week of teaching English at Osmaniye Kortkut Ata University, and my first week as a ‘real’ English teacher. I have done a good amount of one-on-one tutoring, but here we are talking classrooms full of students—my students, and LOTS of them.

Ready for my first ‘real’ day of class

The semester began last week, but only a few first year students showed up to classes—apparently that’s the trend. Thankfully, we had been warned, so we did our best to go with the flow. Though we were still working out our schedules a bit, this week was for real. Meaning, me in front of a classroom of Turkish college students, some of whom speak English, some of whom speak very little, asking them to hop on board, trust me please, ask me to repeat or slow down whenever necessary, and ensuring them we will deal with this situation—the situation being the fact that their teacher does not speak their language, and vice versa—together. So, let’s learn some English! My goal is to help them improve their language skills, from whatever level they might be on, as long as they agree to put in a little effort. Really just coming to class should help some. And we’re going to have fun. We just are.

An example of a classroom I teach in. Teachers stand on the ‘stage’ in front.

In addition to assisting Turkish English teachers and covering the English conversation classes, I have been assigned to teach four sections of Business English in the Business Department. This means I am these student’s only teacher. I determine the content, grading scale, rules, homework, tests, etc. Imagine showing up to your class to discover your teacher does not speak your language. The students are really wonderful. They deserve a lot of props for not running away! I have made a point to speak to each and every one of them—around 300 total—through various exercises. I think it’s very necessary to make a personal connection with each of them, and have them orate a few phrases to me, at least, in English. Most of them are quite sweet. They greet both Eric and I as we walk through campus, and I have probably received more compliments this week than ever before. These comments are all the more meaningful when coming from someone who is struggling to fit words together to express whatever it is they would like to communicate. “Teacher, your face is beautiful.” “Latasha Hoca, your clothes colors are very good. You are well.” “Teacher, you are cute.” “Thank you for teaching me good.” These are just a few comments I’ve received that make the stressful moments much more worth it. It takes some nerve to go up to someone in front of your friends and say anything to them in a language that is not your own, especially when you are not a master of that language. “Hoca” means teacher, and is used here after the first name by students when addressing or referring to their university instructors. Teachers at the university refer to each other as just “Hoca,” all the time. It’s great.

There’s much more to tell, but we have time! Right now, I am exhausted.

Eric gives more detail on how the week started off, so check out his blog: http://simitincilicia.wordpress.com/

Osmaniye Korkut Ata University

Inside the main classroom building

And, by the way, we are now officially official! After no less than twelve visits to various offices at the police station, and many elsewhere as well, we received registered residency permits earlier this week. This means we were able to open bank accounts, which means we can get paid, and it means if we leave the country, we can get back in. And it is comforting to “be official.”

Police complex, which we have visited many many times

4 thoughts on “And it begins! (for real)

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I had similar terrifying/excited/etc feelings teaching in a foreign land. However, I have no training in pedagogy or classroom management, so it was a little..crazy. So glad you’re having these unforgettable, life-changing experiences!

  2. Latasha, you sound so so busy but enjoying it all! That is good and so different to what you are used to. Get some rest….and drink some tea………Till next time, take care and be safe………..Love ya…….

  3. Glad you are now official! And I’m not surprised to hear the students’ positive comments. Your body language is very open and encouraging and that goes a long way. Hope you are able to get some rest!

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