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Teaching English as a foreign language

Before I set off on my 21 hour journey to Bali, Indonesia, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had mixed emotions: joy, fear and anticipation. My thoughts veered towards the painfully long journey and plane food that I was about to endure.

Volunteering to teach abroad has always been something I’ve wanted to do, so after finishing my teacher training and achieving my newly qualified teacher status, in England, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. What else would I do with my 10 week summer holiday?!

My first week in Bali was spent exploring, site seeing and being introduced to the unique culture that the country boasts. I found the Balinese people welcoming, helpful and above all extremely happy despite not having a lot of luxuries in life!

On the way to school on the first day I found myself sitting in the back of the car, nervously holding my bag as it bumped through the winding roads of Ubud. I had no idea whether the students would be able to speak or understand any English at all. Would I be teaching a new language to kids who couldn’t even understand basic words like ‘hello’? Are the worksheets I’d prepared going to be too hard or too easy for them? Would they like me? And on they went the thoughts coupled with the same emotions I had before I left home.

As soon as I arrived at the school the car was surrounded by a herd of hyper children who couldn’t wait to show me to my classroom.

As I approached the classroom, I wasn’t sure what kit I would have to work with or how the classroom would compare to the standard type school table and school chair layouts that I am familiar with. I knew the resources would be limited and I definitely wasn’t expecting an interactive whiteboard. I didn’t get one which is no bad thing! Instead I was faced with a sea of traditional school tables and bench seating, the type of school furniture that I imagine was common place in the UK during the 50’s and 60’s

My first day went well; the students spoke pigeon English and were an absolute joy to teach. The most rewarding aspect of the day was the kids being so happy and proud of their work that they wanted to put it on display for everybody to marvel.

After two weeks of numerous worksheets which were always completed with enthusiasm, endless heads, shoulders, knees and toes at break time I still wasn’t ready to leave…

If there is one word to describe the students in the school in Bali, it has to be energetic! From the moment I arrived at the school to the moment we were waving goodbye, the kids were lively. This was overwhelming at first and something I’m not used to.

If there was one thing I wasn’t prepared for, it was the classes changing daily. The Balinese culture is so important to the people of Bali. Whenever there is a ceremony or an individual’s special day they just don’t turn up!  

Ever considered traveling to Bali? I’d say just do it! The island has so much to offer and everything appeared so inexpensive compared to the overstated, overpriced stuff back home. Three weeks was definitely not enough time to see all of the amazing highlights but long enough to for me to know I’d love to return one day.

A lasting memory for me will always be of the kids running alongside the car as I left, waving and shouting ‘bye!’ ‘see you tomorrow!’ which is what they did every day during my stay :) :) :)

Posted by: Hayley Blight

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