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Tuesday, 27 February 2007

A Day in the Life of an English Teacher


Dear Juliette,

Tonight I’m going to follow your example, Juliette, and write a quick entry for my blog. Your comparison between writing and baking a cake is an excellent one! We call this comparison a metaphor, which means that we attribute (or give) the qualities of one thing or activity to another thing. In this case, you compare the time, effort, ingredients and experience needed for baking different types of cakes to different types of writing. Great idea! Your cake sounds delicious! I’ll try it out sometime.

A few bloggers reminded me that my last blog was rather late. I know you want to improve your English, but please do not sleep by the computer! This is a definite case of being a studyholic. I thought I would tell you a little bit about how I write these blogs, and why I always work at night. As you all know, I’m an English teacher. The classes I have taught this week have all gone well so far… yesterday I was teaching a group of would-be interpreters about the language of English law. We looked at some real legal documents: do you know what they all are? (i) a cross-examination with a forensic expert (ii) a witness statement (iii) a ruling from the Court of Appeal (iv) a contract to guarantee sole distribution rights. I think my students found this lesson tough but interesting! In another lesson with (with Erasmus exchange students) we listened to a tape recording of an international student being interviewed. She gave some advice about studying in the UK. Her English was excellent, but the interview itself was a little boring, so I asked my students to interview each other while I filmed them to make a bite-sized documentary. Next time you watch the news, look out for the “noddie shots”. The interviewer asks a question, then when the person (interviewee) replies, the recording cuts to a shot of the interviewer nodding in agreement. Well, I asked my students to nod for me while I filmed them in profile, and they thought it was so hilarious that things got a little out of hand. We are going to edit the recording then use it with new students.

Fortunately, this week I haven’t had to go to any long meetings yet. I hate meetings! I think they are such a waste of time. I once saw a chart in a time management book which showed the cost of a meeting per minute depending on the number of staff attending. It’s astronomical! Most of the time, the information you receive at a meeting could be distributed by email. The purpose of the meeting (the hidden agenda) is to remind you who is in charge, and that a certain hierarchy exists within your organisation. I usually sit looking very serious, as though I am listening very carefully, but actually I am thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner that evening, and what shopping I need to do. Or sometimes I sit with a large notebook open, and it looks as though I am taking notes, when in fact, I’m correcting student essays.

So, as well as my teaching and meeting-going, you remember I have a family! I’m not saying that I’m the best mother by any means, I wish I could be better, but I have to do lots of things for my two sons… they really keep me busy with all of the clothes that need washing, meals, baths, and we have to fit in some fun as well! And I do have to talk to my husband now and again, otherwise he would probably sack me. (I’m only joking). So finally, when both of my children are asleep and “Match of the Day” (football programme) is keeping my husband occupied, I can have a couple of hours to myself and I write this blog! Tonight’s blog has been very, very easy to write. I haven’t really had to think about it at all. But if I want to teach you something, it’s different. I have to think about a vocabulary or grammar point and try to explain it in a one-way lesson. I want you to understand, but I can’t check if you are following! So I spend a long time wondering about how to include the teaching content in a short little blog. But please don’t stay waiting by the computer! It would make me feel very guilty.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight,

Best wishes,


Thank you for all of your comments. It’s great to see comments from so many parts of the world, and wonderful to see you using the vocabulary from the blogs!


metaphor (noun)
this is the use of a literary device whereby the qualities of one thing are given to another.

would-be (adjective)
intending to be, aiming to be.

bite-sized (adjective)
mini, small-scale.

documentary (noun)
factual programme on tv or radio.

cut to a shot of (phrase)
(on television / in films) moves to an image of something.

nod (verb)
move your head up and down, to say yes.

in profile (phrase)
from the side

hilarious (adjective)
very funny.

out of hand (phrase)
out of control, undisciplined.

astronomical (adjective)
very expensive.

hidden agenda (noun)
the real purpose, which is disguised.

hierarchy (noun)
structure of power.

sack someone (verb)
to fire someone from a job (used jokingly here).

one-way (adjective)
in this case, it means that the process of communication has no immediate feedback.


Hello Samantha! Maybe I´m becoming a studyholic!!! But since I starded to read your entrances and write comments in this blog I could see the improvements in my English. I´ll try to wind down, and I´ll try don´t be so anxious to read your next entrance as well. I think this attittude is due my urgency to learn things, and also because after a day of work it´s indeed difficult to switch off, even though I´ve been so tired. I understand that being a professional and mother are a quite job! There are so many duties. However don´t feel guilty about we are waiting for your entrances. It´s a pleasure to read your blogs, besides your are doing very well. All of us appreciate your work. Best wishes, Ana Paula.

Hello, Samantha. As you and Juliette, I want to send a quick comment and try to make a cake that Juliette told us when I have time in the weekend. Yes, we readers want to read your blogs frequently, but we all know that you are busy with your work and your family, so please to make sure that you have a good rest before updating your blogs. We are just here waiting for your essays. On the one hand, I want to read your blogs as many as I can. On the other hand, I hope you will relax in your daily life. It’s a conflict, isn’t it? Samantha, believe it or not, I hate meetings much than you. In my opinion, I think we have too many meetings at work. When I must attend a meeting, I always take a notebook with me. Absolutely, I never take notes. Instead, I write some English sentences that I have learned or draw some pictures. But to be honest, my drawings are awful. I’m not married but I have already known that marriage will keep a woman busy with housework. I even begin washing clothes and cooking meals for my boyfriend! I just cannot imagine the life that after getting married. Samantha, if I say your newest blog is my most favorite one, will you believe me? The reason is that this blog is a little easier for me because it contained less language points than your previous blogs. Am I a lazy student? Don’t laugh at me. I’m very glad to read your blog in the morning at Beijing Time. Hope to read your next post tomorrow if you have time. I’m conflicting again. Wish you all the best! Jill.

Good evening (it was evening, now it's good morning!)Samantha. Your recipe of blog is very useful for us. I'll try to adapt it to my comment because I also sometimes have to wait for my little son fall asleep to do something. At the same time, you have given me a new idea. I have already recorded my own interviews several times to correct my voice, pace, intonation, pronunciation, fluency, accuracy and leave taking. I have also made many role plays talking to myself in front of the mirror to watch my posture, facial expression, eye contact and gestures. This situation is hilarious to my little son and only my paraquito is looking very serious while I try to be a kind of would be interviwee in order to improve my speaking. Reading your today's blog I see there is still another way to do that using this bite-sized documentary. It sounds very interesting. I have done a similar thing last year. At my son's school they asked us, mums, to invent something to do for a day with the class to introduce ourselves, to show our mum's life and explain about our profession during the mother's month. We should do anything we wanted. It was easy for me to do a kind of documentary because I have been collecting pictures of our daily routine for years. Things like me looking after my son while he was sick, giving massages, baths, changing clothes...all those things we do when we have baby. So I've chosen a music of Tarzan (a Dysney film) that was " You will be in my heart" of Phil Collins and I've used a movie maker program to edit it. As a result, it was a success at school. The children loved it, mainly because some of them appeared in the film. The pedagog asked me to repeat to the other classes. It was something special to do that, though I have never tried to do that with the purpose sugested by you in mind. It's really exciting to be mum-professional-woman, nonetheless I feel, and even your today's blog reflect that, how the modern woman is under pressure and facing challenging sitations. We have to balance our work and domestic duties by the way of being obliged to stand long hours awake or distribute some duties among all the members of the family and the maid. As I recognise I am not really a super woman and I also love myself, I prefer the second option. I've just broken my own rules in this case because for most simple this recipe of blog is, the content reveals a conflicting issue which deserves a proper comment. All the best... at all events, good night.

Hello Samantha, today's blog is really very interesting, so simple and colorful is "a day of life". I was laughing when reading about your actual thinking during the meeting. It is universal, I also do the same with the exception that I don't check the copies of students as I am not a teacher. But if luckily I sit with a colleague of mine we pass comments by writing on paper. Meetings are so boring that sometimes it is difficult to listen the same speeches/papers again and again without any fruitful results or implementations of recommendations that are made in these meeting. You have very rightly pointed out these as astronomical. The class you taught yesterday is also interesting. It reminds me a workshop on "Science in Mass Media" that I attended few months back wherein scientists, researchers, health professionals and persons from print and electronic media were participated. After usual lectures and question answer session the organizers divided us into groups. For each group they gave us a topic, which was a popular issue througout the world. They asked us to make a 5 minute presentation for TV. The topic of our group was Hepatitis, I was chosen as an expert on the subject(interviewee), another lady was selected as an interviewer, one peron was acting as the facilitator, one as a media man and another as a public representative. It was so hilarious that every one was trying to say some thing, who wil ask what, what questions should be asked, what would be the answer, what is hepatitis, how it spreads, what are the precautions to be taken and what measures are being taken on the government level. The time was short and everything got a little out of hand. However, it went very well and was really a good experience I enjoyed a lot. Samantha, writing comments on your blog is a one way experience in the sense that we don't know that if we are writing correct english or not but your feedback in your blog that you read all the comments encourage us to write again. However, could you please write a blog on english speaking as you know in writing we find time to think or read twice and correct our mistakes but while speaking english it is difficult. Sometimes we don,t find suitable words; other time we think about the tense if it is right or wrong, so on and so forth. I hope that I am not asking too much. Thanks and Take care. Farida

Hi Samantha, I come here again just want to say one sentence that I forget this morning: Kick meetings!!

Dear Samantha! I think we all understand you, however we just love this place so much! Like me, I quite used to see the blog when I open the computer everyday, but I am not so eagerly to see what blog on-line. I have a family too and know how many things we need to do, although I have not kids yet. Hence, I wonder what a hard work you have done! You must be very efficient! Could you tell us how you arrange things so orderly? Since I got married oen year ago, I always mess things up, because it was hard to consider all the things well! Thanks a lot! With best wishes! From Helen

Dear Samantha! Thanks for being so honest and outspoken.We know teachers are ordinary people who have daily problems as everyone of us. Unfortuantely,working mothers are more busy than the rest part of the women.Our husbands often are angry and ready to sack us but fortunately they have the ability to forget quickly.;-) Diema

Hi Samantha, it had been some time since I last read your blog, so it took me quite some time to bring myself up to date with it today. I had to do a lot of reading. I wrote some comments on previous entries, but as they are behind, you probably won't be able to read them. Anyway I felt like writing. So, as you can see, you don't have to feel guilty for not being able to write the blog in time. We all understand how hard it must be to deal with such a hard task as keeping a blog is. I would also like to say that I hope none of your co-workers have read your blog because, if they have, they'll find out about your trick when you attend meetings. Thank you again (never enough) for your great job teaching us English. Best wishes.

Dear Samantha.It's so nice to be back!!! As I mentioned before I would be away for a week in a tiny village on the coast.It was like living in another world;no rush hours, no violence, no housework, no boss, no pollution. Those were a couple of easy days from my hectic life in which I just winded down and took it easy among young people. I did a lot of trekking along the coastline and indulged myself in yummy seafood.My son had a couple of surfing lessons and it was amazing to see that on his first attempt, he managed to stand up and surf.We,mummy and dad, were proud of him and felt like as if we were surfing. But, unfortunately, life is not just indulgence, so here we are back to the grindstone. By the way, I missed my cybercommunitiy so much and I must confess that one of the first things I did when I was back was to peep your diaries to be updated.I was amazed by how much was said and exchanged. I felt like missing my favourite soap for a week.Anyway,I happy to be back and to know that our community is still very much alive and kicking!!To conclude I want to thank you for all your comments on language, although you admit that it can be quite time-comsuming to write this blog I can assure you that your effort pays off cause like all the others I'm also profiting a lot form your virtual classes. I love the connections you make wiht words and the way you make comments on Juliette blog, very constructive ones. Just to finish I want to add some other verbs that interchanged with tiem and money: put aside, invest, economize. It's intersting though that kill applies just to time. Well, I'm happy to be back and with all my batteries recharged!! Best wishes, Sorry I didn't mean to write a book...

Dear Samantha, It is so generous and kind of you, that besides your duties at work and in the family you find some time to teach us!! I feel that you are a wonderful person and a genius of a teacher! You real students must like you as much as we do! I have been reading your blog for a week or so, but I've noticed myself using the linking words! :-) that's great! Thank you a lot! btw, reading your today's blog I was thinking that all would-be interpriters are the same :-) I'm one of these, and our lessons are often very hilarious. Sometimes we get out of hand and nothing can calm us down. But generally we take our would-be career seriously, it is very interesting and useful and is worth going into. Best wishes, Tatyana

Hi Samantha! Have you got a bit time to read comments? I like your last post much. The second paragraph is far too tough for me.I`ve regarded highly your educative blogs like you were a real teacher for university students here. Don`t panic,we are any /I mean me/. But I had to smile at third paragraph! I worked 17 years like head consultant at a hospital. You do know,I hated visiting neetings while all my staff were sitting at coffe discussing lesurelly. I`ve checked there are many free positions in the UK, but there is always a chart of weekly/!/ managemet meetings and that`s much more than here. Take a rest we want you have fun with us!

Dear Samantha, Thank you for your interesting post which was very constructive for learners as me. Every day from your blog I learn new words and grammar which help me to understand BBC news and TV english news.To improve my speaking in english I try to listen BBC almost everyday. As you, I am a(math) teacher. We have two or three faculty meetings every month. To be honest with you, I hate meetins. Sometimes it will be boring, but the department head will provide us good snack.I HAVE TO GO NOW. Kind regards.

Hi,Samantha The othe day I went to "Family learning program" in school.The aim of the project is to inform or teach parents basic math's words and show how children are taught in math so parents can help children at home.Anyway,the meeting was out of order and the teacher struggled to deal with the situation.she had to write down each parents'way of solving the maths as each person was learned in a different way.It took for ages to move on next topic.When the lesson finished she looked pleased. I took my hat off to her.I am pretty sure you are a good teacher for your students but I am wondering whether you are able to teach your own children without any hassle or not.To be frank with you,I am always staggered how difficult to teach my son and feel hopeless. I think You are not the only one to face the sack by a is hilarious you earn your peaceful time to write blogs when your husband is watching "Match of the day" because I do same but I study Enlish instead writing blogs. Have a great time!

Dear Samantha, reading about your everyday life is pleasant - thank you that you share your experienses with us. Your observations with regard to meetings in organziations brings to my mind so many debates, deliberations and trainings, where nobody knows what the perpose is. In this situations I often feel sorry for me that I was wasting time and for an orator that is so other-worldly (in English there are surely some special phrases for such meetings). I wish all best,

Dear Samantha! Thank you for sharing a slice of your life. It was really interesting. We can learn even if your blog is about your day to day life because we can see the right word order, appropriate words and all that. I do not have to take part in meetings as I work at home. In this way I can spend a great deal of time with my family. But I also have some difficulties. As you know my daughter is studying at a university in England. She has gone down with the flu and she has been suffering various aches and pains for a few days. As a mother you can imagine how difficult this is for me. I cannot help her, I cannot sit next her bed and I cannot make a cup of tea with honey and lemon for her and so on. She does not want me to panic, so she is playing down the danger from her illness. This situation really got me down. As she is living so far away from me I cannot be together with her these days when she needs me. It makes me feel less happy. Best wishes,

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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