Yesterday a group of my former students organised a reunion at school. We all met in our old classroom and had a nostalgia-drenched Christmas lesson, just like in the good ol’ days: cakes and cookies, Blockbuster-style games on the board, and our traditional singalong seasonal soundtrack of ‘Chestnuts Roasting’, ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ and – for reasons which remain obscure – the Backstreet Boys.
It was great to see them together again, although of course we have stayed in touch since they graduated two years ago. Most of them are now university students, some have taken time out to work and travel. Several have already experienced life in the US and UK. One girl wasn’t able to be there as she is currently living and working in London. It’s extremely satisfying to see how much our students really do benefit after all from all those English lessons once they leave school. One of the real perks of the job is knowing that we can make a difference and contribute something worthwhile.
And these guys had a lot of English classes with me – five years’ worth, in fact. As a special “nyelvi előkészítő” class, they had an extra preparatory year, in which they had a huge number of English lessons with me and my colleague, Andi, who was also there for the little reunion.
12 F in the house again
It was hilarious to see how many of the old in-jokes and catchphrases from our lessons resurfaced in the quiz questions. The only information I had to give them about the initials ‘PFE’ was: “This is what you always had to remember about the 1st conditional” and they all screamed as one: “Possible Future Event!”
Olivia and Tamás as the quizmasters
Our Christmas reunion next year is a DFE – definite future event!
One of the problems with teaching is that it’s all too easy to churn out the same old stuff. Each new year brings a new set of students who are unfamiliar with our tired routines and unacquainted with the one about the little boy who sat down to write a letter to Santa Claus. It’s convenient in a way, too, of course – those yellowing handouts and good ol’ Christmas ideas still work a treat with the students long after we have stopped being able to enjoy them ourselves – but there’s always a voice at the back of our heads urging us to come up with something new. For me, it’s especially hard. I know that a lot of the teachers who attend the OUP Christmas Conference in Budapest are there every year, so I won’t be able to get away with reheating last year’s ideas and serving them up as marrons glacés: let’s face it, an old chestnut is an old chestnut. Each year I’m sure that this will be the year that I run out of ideas, and this year was no different, especially as I had to put together a separate plenary talk and conference session. O sweet Santa, help!
Anyway, it’s over now. After a lot of head-scratching, I’m relieved to say that another crop of Christmas-themed English-teaching ideas has been successfully harvested. Who knows what will happen next year, though?
Ben Wetz, author of English Plus, was the guest of honour this year, and it was great to meet him again and enjoy his talk and also his company.
I’m attaching a link to a pdf version of the slides for my talk ‘Working in a Winter Wonderland’, as promised. It ought to jog your memories – as well as reminding me whatnot to repeat next year 🙂
Working in Winter Wonderland
During the workshop in Budapest, someone asked me whether it was really true that I prefer to decorate the kitchen bin at Christmas rather than the tree. I confessed that it was, and added that my two daughters are willing accomplices. I offer photographic evidence, 2008 vintage 🙂