One Long Monday: Diary Entry one- "How many cities in New York?"

The other night while on the way home from work I was chatting to some mates about how long I’d been working for the same centre: 

 I suppose it could get confusing from there.
Photo by Oscar Hevia
"Almost ten years," I sighed, and it's been a long decade.

“How does it feel?”

“Like a long day that merges together, a long Monday.”

“Yeah, where Christmas is like a break between classes.”

“Easter is a coffee break.”

“Summer is when no students turn up for your last class because a local fair is on.”

Teaching can be tedious, where each day rolls on from the next and each week lasts a month's worth of days. 

It can be confusing too. Sometimes I see students out and about and I’m not sure whether they are in my class this year, or last, or whether I taught their brother, sister, or granny.

So, you have to be pretty motivated to stick out being a TEFL teacher for as long as I have. Of course, you have the odd day when you’ve had enough and just want to stay at home, especially knowing that your kids are waking up from their siesta and are asking for you. 

Luckily, I do love my job (notice the use of ‘do’ there to convince myself), obviously I’d much rather be a best-selling author, but even when I become one (dreaming) I'm sure I'll miss being in the classroom.

One reason why I've become more motivated to write about teaching English again (apart from the fact that I've spent the last 6 months finishing the first draft novel), is because I've realised I still have a lot to say about life as a TEFL teacher. Plus the fact that even though I haven't been posting properly this website has still been getting over 10,000 page views a month.

So the idea of One Long Monday is a long, continuous diary entry about life as an ESL teacher. I’ll include thoughts and feelings in the classroom, how certain classes went, how I developed ideas in class, what worked, what didn’t, and hopefully fit in a few funny quotes from my students.   

Of course you do...but hopefully
this weekly blog will cheer you up.
Photo by Bede Jackson
Do you hate Monday?

I’m not sure whether using the word Monday in the blog will attract much attention, I mean, most people hate Monday’s, right? I certainly never hope it's Monday when I wake up, normally I sigh, knowing that my worst class is usually on a Monday. I guess it’s just sod’s law that for the last 10 years my worst class has always been on a Monday. Whether or not they are a tricky teenage class, a manic young learner’s class, or an overly questioning adult class, it’s always Monday when I have to deal with the painful classes.


You get great Mondays now and then though. Take last Monday for example, I had one of my funniest questions ever from a student.

“Barry, can I speak Spanish?”

“No, but I’m sure you’re going to anyway.”

So this is was our conversation, in Spanish, apart from the bold phrase below.

“A few kids in my class the other day where saying a phrase.”

“Right,” I said, half-expecting to be asked about a swear word, firstly because she looked guilty, but mainly because the boys had been saying it.

“Yeah, so they were saying it all day, and lots of other boys were. And when we asked our English teacher she said she didn’t know what it meant. She even checked on the internet, she said.”

She said, I thought. So, I dared to ask what the phrase was.

What the fuck?

A few of the boys laughed, but I had to keep my professional hate on.

“It’s a swear word, and I wouldn’t go around saying it.”

“But our teacher said it wasn’t.”

“Well,” I said, playing it down. “It’s not that common, so don’t worry about it, and just don’t use it.”

I could see a few of the boys mouthing “What the fuck” to each other, but with an evil stare they stopped.


The best spontaneous idea I had last week was getting a class of young learners (10 year olds) to do some vocabulary bidding. 

Normally at the start of each unit I copy up the vocabulary on ebeam and cover each of the words with a coloured rectangle (I know, I'm just a whizz on technology in the class). After I've been thorugh the pronounciation of the flashcards, they have to guess how it's written. They get a point for the corret pronunciation and another point for guessing where the word is placed (they are all hidden behind a coloured square in a circle).

Well, this week I decided to inject a bit of fun by saying they had $200 and could bet on how confident they were of the word being behind the coloured square. They went mentally loopy and loved the activity. The only problem is the level of Spanish rocketed and I’m not sure if they were even noticing the spelling, or pronunciation of the word. They were far more interested in adding up how much imaginary money they hadn't actually won. I'll try it again, but in a more controlled manner.

And to finish, here's the funniest quote from a lad. It was during an activity when a class had to write down a list of three cities they'd like to visit and why.

“Barry, can you tell me a city of New York?”

"Err, I think there is only one city in New York."

Until next week…happy teaching.

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