I can still vividly remember my time at SGI. The full-time course remains one of the most intensive and rewarding experiences of my life. The quality of the teaching was excellent on all levels, with staff able to handle students of differing ages and backgrounds, allowing us all to have a laugh and learn at the same time. (And I’m not just saying that because I had a crush on Madeline – is she still there?) Maybe I was just lucky, but the group of people I was with got along really well. We would always stumble out of Saint George International on a Friday evening, flushed from the excitement of finishing our lessons, to have a drink or two in the pub down the road. That kind of convivial atmosphere ensured I looked forward to everyday of training, even the grammar lessons.
I took a lot more away with me than just the fundamental knowledge of how to teach. I felt much more confident in my ability to speak in public, as well as organize myself and others. When I arrived in Taiwan and started to look for teaching work, I quickly realized many of the other people out there didn’t have any teaching experience, and my time at SGI put me well ahead of the game when it came to picking up work. It also made that first lesson much less of a strain as I had a very clear idea about what I was going to do.
Now, I am no longer teaching. I work for the China Daily newspaper in Beijing. However, our edition is aimed at university-level English learners and while my office is a far cry from the chaos of the classroom, my experience as a teacher means I have an inside track on how to help my readers learn the language, albeit remotely.