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Spanish courses in Bilbao
May 18, 2018
Carlos Portus Saracho

Spanish Teacher: Reflections on Being a Good Teacher

During this time at the Instituto, I have had the opportunity to get to know people from China, Japan, Korea, Canada, Palestine, Germany… all different ages and from very different backgrounds. Some of us have made a 10-minute trip by tram to get to the school. Others have crossed entire continents. With all the people I have met, I have seen sparkle in their eyes, which shows an eagerness to not just learn a new language, but to communicate with and be understood by others.

There are not many things that are more frustrating than wanting to communicate with someone and not being able to. However, when you achieve it, the satisfaction is huge.

We hear without listening, because to hear things doesn’t require us to pay any attention. On a daily basis, we hear hundreds of noises, voices and sounds. We do not see this as something bad, because at the end of the day 98% of what lights up the world is noise. What is a bombshell at 6 in the morning then lies in the gutter at midday. What is sad is the fact that we have the same attitude towards people who come in and out of our lives. The difficult thing is learning to focus less on ourselves. It takes a lot to put aside, even just for a short time, everything about us and our lives.

There are many skills that make a good teacher. However, I believe that one of them should come absolutely above the others; and that is knowing how to listen. Knowing how to listen cultivates what is human in us and tunes our senses. So yes, knowing how to listen is one of the skills that we have worked most on at the Instituto Hemingway.

Being an ELE teacher is an enriching task. No day is the same. Each class is original and is nothing like the one before. There is no place for routine.

Sometimes there are bad moments, like when you see that a student is not making progress or is having a blank. You wonder whether the method you have chosen to teach them is the right one. And suddenly one day, you don’t know how, but that wall that seemed insurmountable falls down and the student starts moving forward.

As an Efe teacher, recently I have had the chance to help a Genetics student. I had some knowledge about these things, because I have always taken an interest in the subject. But on this occasion, it required me to go into depth and acquire new knowledge. New vocabulary such as: pluripotential cells, crisp, stem cells, cell reprogramming… I have discovered first-class scientific publications and I have also considerably increased my hopes about curing degenerative diseases.

Efe classes are very special. They definitely require a lot of preparation, but each time you give some classes about a subject, it’s as if you are making a slight “career” in that discipline. In such a way that with a bit of patience and effort you can become a “geneticist”, a “lawyer”, a “pharmacist” or a “business man”.

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