In town and cities like Prague, people living locally want to learn English. They fit attending a specialist language school around their lives - either working or going to school.
Lessons can be early in the morning, maybe at a company where its employees have language lessons, or in the afternoons and evenings. The busiest, and noisiest, time is usually when the kids arrive after school, with their parents and grandparents dropping them off.
Teachers usually have a timetable that involves some evening teaching, so have some mornings or afternoons off.
I start the working week at school, teaching two intensive classes. The students come every day for three hours. First, a mixed-nationality group of energetic intermediate students who really are up for anything! Next, a group of young, advanced level adults who are aiming to take the CAE exam.
After lunch, I plan my next class which is an in-school YL group of energetic 12 year olds. They love playing games, and I’m a soft-touch, so our lessons are always productive but a little noisy. When that’s over, I plan my lessons for Tuesday morning and head home.
Either relax at home or head out somewhere to meet friends for a drink or two.
Starting work at 7:30 is more painful on dark winter mornings than during the summer, but my class is in the client’s offices in the centre of the city so the commute involves a tram ride through beautiful Prague when there aren’t too many people about. I begin with a group of three elementary level women who work for an accounting company. They are incredibly chatty and their office is in a prime spot for people-watching which comes in handy when practising some language points! Afterwards, I stroll through the historic centre to the metro and head to a marketing and finance company where I teach two women who have already passed the CPE exam. We normally use authentic materials on a wide range of topics.
I have the afternoon off, and whereas some teachers would use it to get a head start on planning for the rest of the week, I usually have a long lunch with friends, spend money I shouldn’t spend or go to the cinema!
I go to the school to plan for the evening’s adult classes and Wednesday classes. First, I have a group of three C1 level students who always do their best to distract me from the grammar parts of the book. Next, I teach an advanced level conversation class. They’re students who have been together for many years, and this is my fourth year teaching them. We discuss many topics; some of which are a little bizarre such as toilet habits and vegetable orchestras. Our lessons are always good fun, and I often have a ringing in my ears when it’s over.
I get a lie-in on Wednesdays! At about 11:00, I catch the tram to an arts, architecture and design university near the river and castle. How anyone gets any work done there when the view is so magical is beyond me! I have a group of C1 level students and I normally use a mix of authentic and coursebook materials based on what crops up in class.
After having lunch somewhere in the city centre, I head to a clinic in a residential part of the city to teach a group of physiotherapists. There are four students and, rather unconventionally, we have our classes around a treatment bed in one of their offices. We often focus on general, pre-intermediate materials, but occasionally cover more specific language related to their work.
I then walk back to the school and teach my final class of the day. It’s a group of outgoing B2 level adults who I’ve taught for three years. Then I plan my lessons for Thursday morning and head to a restaurant to meet some friends for our weekly catch-up.
Another early start in the city centre! To make it more bearable for everyone, the students always bring “koláč”, a Czech pastry often eaten for breakfast. The students have various roles at a bank and are keen to improve their spoken English. After brushing off the crumbs, I walk to the metro and head to the school to teach a group of C1 level ladies. We do a mixture of CAE preparation and focussed language work. They are very chatty and enthusiastic about everything which slows the lesson down…in a good way!
In the early afternoon, I go to a primary school and teach one class of third graders. This primary school is nearby, but our school has links with schools all over the city as part of the school’s “Start Right” program. The focus is on speaking so we play lots of games to supplement what the students learn in their regular English classes. Then I plan my lessons for Friday, and am normally finished by 14:30.
I have the evening off so I either relax at home or go out with friends.
I end the week as I started it – teaching the same two intensive classes. As it’s Friday, we normally have relaxed lessons, often reviewing language covered during the week, playing games, and exploring some authentic materials.
Afternoons vary. I have a quick lunch before Czech class – teachers at the school can attend for free and although my Czech is terrible, the classes are great fun. Putting yourself in the position of a student can really aid your teaching. Afterwards, there are meetings and workshops which are often delivered by teachers who have ideas they want to share with their colleagues, myself included. Then I plan a little for Monday.
On Friday evenings, my colleagues and I do the usual Friday evening activities of going to the pub, arcade bar, karaoke bar or nightclub.