Teaching in Sardinia, Italy

Guest writer Clive Hawkins runs a language school in Sardinia, Italy. In this next article of our occasional series Another day in the life of …. he describes a typical day in an extremely busy life. Apart from running the school and teaching a full timetable himself, Clive also runs a website, Pod Cards, which provides free, downloadable listening materials for teachers and students. Check it out!

I teach in Sardinia, Italy. I use the present simple rather than the continuous because I’d say I’ve pretty much settled down. Long gone are the dreams of taking short term positions and working my way round the world. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t for one minute give up my little house and young family to go off and travel a bit, it’s just not how I imagined things would work out.

I think I’m quite lucky as far as my teaching week is concerned. First and foremost there’s plenty of work around, which I think is mainly due to the difficult economic situation here. It’s one of the main reasons my wife and I opened our school. So many young people look to learn English as they either want to leave the island to work abroad or simply improve their chances of getting a job at home.

Secondly, my week is pretty varied. Today, Tuesday, I start at 09.00 at the nursery school which is a five-minute walk from home. I have two one-hour lessons with a group of 20 and a group of 8. We generally have a lot of fun singing, dancing, playing and colouring although I must admit I find it pretty exhausting. If these lessons weren’t the first of the day, I doubt I’d have the patience or energy to do them. It is the first year that I’ve taught regularly to this age group. I’m finding it interesting but not as rewarding as I’d expected. The older group seem to be picking things up quickly enough, but with the smaller kids I seem to spend more time trying to keep some semblance of order rather than doing anything constructive. I’ve got to work this problem out.

At 11.00 I pop to the office to pick up the materials and CD player for the three one-hour private lessons I do at a local research institute. The levels are pre-intermediate, advanced and beginner and over the year or so that we’ve been doing the lessons we’ve built up quite a nice rapport. Having just come away from the nursery school I actually find these three hours quite relaxing.

Next I nip home to have a quick bite to eat before I go to my school for the three evening classes I teach. At 16.30 I have a group of retired women for a conversation class and at 18.00 another conversation class. The two groups are pretty much the same level so I can prepare one lesson and use it twice, having to change just one or two minor things. This saves me a lot of time, for which I’m really grateful. My final class is at 20.00 and finishes at 21.30. It’s a beginner class and we use a course book I’m very familiar with, so again the preparation time for this lesson is virtually nil. I’m tired by this point so I really have to throw myself into it otherwise I spend a very long hour and a half watching the clock on the wall and thinking about what culinary delights await me at home.

Thankfully not all my days are like this. The week starts heavy and eases off towards the weekend. In fact, of the 30 hours I teach at the moment 22 of them are done in the first three days, leaving Thursday and Friday fairly free for the other things I enjoy and need to do. I enjoy working on my website, but I also have the school to run. I’d swap an hour behind the desk doing admin for an hour in the classroom every time. However, it needs to be done and it means that I’m my own boss.

Photos of Cagliari, Sardinia provided under Creative Commons Licence by alwaysstone and lostajy via flickr.

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