I’d like to take a minute to express gratitude for my wonderful English students this year. I work with students based in the Madrid offices of multinational pharma companies AbbVie and Abbott, giving one-on-one classes to help them improve their speaking and listening skills. I also have a few other online classes sprinkled in, one with a young high school student and occasional others in China, Indonesia and Latin America.
Sure, I have to start at 7 or 7:30 most days, but since I’m working from home, it’s manageable. In fact, I usually wake up between 6:30 and 6:45 and squeeze in 15 minutes of yoga with Xuan Lan. Then I make a cup of tea and have some oatmeal with peanut butter and get on with my classes. Little secret: since most of my classes are by phone, pressing “mute” while students are reading, speaking in depth, or watching a video buys me time to finish breakfast during class if I’m slammed with back-to-back classes with no breaks.
This week we did a nice lesson reviewing make vs. do, and then we spoke in-depth about making time for oneself. Otherwise we generally talk about phrasal verbs, idioms, humor, syllable stress and pronunciation as well as general American culture. In our classes, I notice I laugh a lot. Like deep, appreciative laughs. Not laughing AT my students, but laughing about the absurdity of the English language, or at the genuinely funny things they say. They laugh quite a bit too, so at least it goes both ways.
I feel a great connection with these people. In the absence of regular conversation with friends and family, these people have been my anchor, livening up my week and listening to me rant about Trump. In fact, all of them ask me what “my people” were thinking voting for Trump. Everybody’s wary of the American president but most expressed they think he may win again.
As their so-called “English psychologist” they talk to me about work stress, home stress, their kids, and their own personalities. I love getting to know each one of them and having intriguing conversations.
How did you get here, you may ask? Weren’t you working for a company in Madrid doing writing and marketing? Okay, I’ve had a weird relationship with teaching English the last few years. I was a teaching assistant in high schools and even a couple of elementary schools, where I had to come up with games and activities to make them speak as much as possible. While it was pretty exhausting, especially the first year, I enjoyed making connections with the students who were pretty much always making me laugh, even when I was supposed to be stern with them. But after a couple of years, I thought I’d leave teaching behind and go to grad school in the UK (long story) because I was ready to move on and “do something with my life” – whatever that means. This cycle has repeated itself a few more times in the last few years – teaching, then moving on to other things, and then coming back.
There’s something about teaching that makes me feel like I’m making a difference. But then I hit a wall and get exhausted or want to do something new. I guess, rather than look at it as a bad thing, I can be thankful that I’ve been welcomed back to teaching with open arms so often thanks to the connections I’ve made. I’ve worked with the most wonderful teachers at the public high schools in Cantabria, in academies, and at online company Lingo Live. I especially appreciated my coordinator Miren in Castro-Urdiales – she was such a supportive and encouraging pillar! These teachers are so dedicated and I admire their long-term commitment to teaching – gracias a Dios they’re not all like me, coming and going every year or two. 🙂
Okay, getting back to my current job. I was working full-time in the Barrio Salamanca of Madrid in a nice 5th-floor office doing some email marketing and article writing. I had started looking for potential private classes to boost my income a bit. But one evening I got a phone call about an opportunity to teach pharmaceutical professionals. It sounded like a better fit for me, with a good hourly rate, and it was a chance to move on from where I was. If you talked to me at any point between June and December 2019, you know I needed to move on. So I started my classes in February 2020 and the rest is history. Since March I teach from home, and it’s going better than ever. The good thing about this job is being part-time, it allows me time to do other things and make time for myself while still earning a decent living.
Sometimes it hits me that I really enjoy what I do.
So here’s to hopefully not burning out and running away again anytime soon.