Watching all these cool people on tv with wigs, banging their fists on the desk in the name of justice felt great but I discovered (5 years later) that wanting to be a lawyer is a lot more fun than being one. Maybe it was just me, but I didn’t fancy it any longer. Hmmm something else then?
I had a friend who had tried teaching English in the Czech Republic but actually didn't like it that much. Despite the poor critique I decided that for a change (maybe short term, maybe not) I'd do a TEFL course and start teaching English as a foreign language. How hard can it be to just speak in my own language all day? I realised quickly that was very, very difficult.
The lessons were fun. It wasn’t specific to legal English but it was fun and introduced me to the world of language learning. I had a few shocks too, though. I had never realised how complicated our (English) language was and just how much effort it takes for a foreigner to learn it. There is a common feeling that English native speakers do not make the effort to learn foreign languages because we don’t really need to. I agree to a point and because we don’t generally bother learning them, we don’t appreciate how much work it takes to learn a foreign language properly.
“Grade your language when you speak to the students please” the TEFL teacher asked me.
I quickly discovered that only using easy words is not so easy…..
5 minutes later “Ahem, Grade your language”.
“Even more?” I asked.
“if your students don’t understand you, what is the point of you being there?”
An obvious statement, but one that has stuck. The lessons came and went and I slowly began to get the hang of it. It was fun, frustrating, tiring, inspiring. One thing it wasn’t, was easy.
The change from being a lawyer was big. No suits, no claim forms, no timesheets. Just a full classroom of strangers waiting for you to talk to them. Not much less intimidating that a courtroom to be honest.
The road had begun. The students were friendly and demanding. It was difficult but different and you felt that warm feeling that you were actually helping. You soon learnt what the students want and what they don’t want. Every student is different, but they all want to learn something new. Don’t we all.