Wednesday, October 9, 2013

First one-on-one English lesson(s)!!!

Dobry den, Everyone!  (That means "hello" in Czech).

As all of you know, I have officially finished my TEFL course.  That ended as of last Friday at 4pm to be exact.  I had a stellar weekend with my close friend who was visiting from Germany, and then reality set in and my week began with absolutely no TEFL, no school 10 hours every day, no more lessons scheduled to teach and thus, plan.  This was a strange and rather unsettling feeling.  In some ways, a huge sigh of relief.  A break, finally!  But in other ways, I felt rather useless, unproductive and uneasy not having a job or a list of things I was required to do each day.  (I would highly recommend the course by the way.  Intensive, in depth and good value for one's money.  Here is a link to the program:

However, I put my oodles of free time to great use.  I spent HOURS online marketing myself.  Putting up profiles advertising my services on various websites, sending out emails to former students who I had taught during my TEFL course (asking them to pass my name along), creating my very own website advertising my teaching services and even pounding the pavement for a few hours one morning throughout Prague hanging up these babies:

Well, thus far, my efforts have paid off (though of course, time will tell for sure).  I have already received around 8 messages inquiring about my services!!!  Four of which have led to official appointments being booked on my schedule within the next 3-4 days.  This is SUPER exciting for me.  Private lessons pay more than lessons you are assigned when working with a school.  The typical pay when working for a school is around 200 czk per hour.  I am charging 300 czk per lesson.

And as a matter of fact, I actually just had my first one to one lesson this morning with a young woman who moved to Prague 5 weeks ago.  She is a native German speaker, she speaks English as well but is looking to improve her English as she works for a big University within Prague and needs English for the work she does.

We met at a little coffee shop.  I brought her a piece of homemade pumpkin bread which seemed to delight her.  Then we had our lesson.  I introduced new vocabulary to her (in relation to personality traits), as well as some other vocabulary related to coffee shops (but also applicable to everyday life), words like to blend, to chat vs. a chat (the verb vs. the noun), a hangout vs. to hangout( the noun vs. the verb), trendy, etc.  Out of all the vocabulary I chose, she did not have prior knowledge of around 80% of the words, so I was pleased with myself, having chosen language at a challenging level for her!  She was into it, laughing and interacting with me.  She seemed to be enjoying trying to use the words in sentences or to answer my questions when I concept checked that she understood each term.  Then finally, we went over some grammar (will vs. going to, and then idioms), we did a reading comprehension exercise and that was it for the morning.  She told me that she really enjoyed the lesson and would love to meet again next week.  YAY!!!!  So I am slowly but surely trying to build a business of private lessons, which seems to be off to a great start.

I have two more meetings tomorrow.  One with a mother of two boys.  She would like to meet with me for coffee first, prior to deciding about having me as a teacher to her sons.  Then I have a private lesson with a 7 year old boy tomorrow evening from 4pm-5pm at his home.  And finally, I have a potential lesson on Friday with a business man.  Things are looking good.

And in the meantime, I applied to 8 more jobs at local preschools yesterday evening, along with the 18 I have already applied to since this past Friday.  So I am really hoping to start hearing back from some of them within the next few days!

In other news, I did have an interview yesterday at a school on the outskirts of Prague!  THAT was an experience in itself.  Google maps told me the travel time was 30 minutes.  I allotted myself one hour, just to be safe.  My interview was scheduled for 10:30am.  I walked in at 10:50am, horribly embarrassed and disheveled.  I had actually broken down and cried for 5 brief but terribly stress-filled minutes just beforehand.  I had walked all over the outskirts of Prague looking for this street!  I was using directions I had written to no avail.  I went into at least 3 different shops to ask if they knew where it might be.  Nothing.  However at the last minute, literally upon deciding to give up, I finally stumbled across my destination.  I almost didn't go in as I figured I was so horribly late, I had already lost my chances.  But then I figured, eh, why not.  At this point, I have nothing to lose and I am here, so I am going in.

I got offered the job on the spot.

However I do not think I am going to take it.  As desperate as I am (I want a regular teaching job badly.  I am loving the potential one-on-one private lesson business but I also want a semi-regular salary as well), the job doesn't seem like the best.  The salary offered is 200 czk per hour, which is standard.  However they only start you off at around 5 hours per week.  I want to be starting off with more than that.  Though again, not the worst (as I could do other things for money, like my private lessons, within the rest of my free time).  However they provide a 3-day training course (outside of Prague) which employees are required to attend.  The cost is 180 euro (which is like $220+ USD).  They pay 1/2 and the employee pays 1/2.  If you work there for one year, they will reimburse you for the 1/2 fee of the training that you paid.  However if you leave before the one year is up, you have to pay it.  I don't feel like that is worth it.  I have not heard something like that being common practice, in terms of teaching jobs here in Prague, so I feel like holding out a bit more for a different job (more hours, and ideally more regular hours at that) without being semi-tied into it financial is probably better.  I will decide regarding this job by the end of this week.  I am just going to think about it carefully and follow my gut instinct on it.

In other news, last night I had a grand time baking with my pastry buddy/previous TEFL classmate, Greg.  He came over to my place and we spent about 3 hours mixing and measuring in my expansive kitchen.  So much fun!  We decided to make Pumpkin bread to quench our thirst for all things pumpkin and because it's reminiscent of autumn back home for us.  It came out so yummy.  Moist, cake-like and of course, pumpkin-y with little bits of chocolate mixed in.  

Delectable homemade pumpkin bread with chocolate chips and real pumpkin!!!  Eating it made me think of New England <3

The only measuring device we had available to us was a large glass cylindrical cup which is used to measure milliliters.  We had to fire up Google to convert all the recipe measurements into milliliters!  This induced some laughter, and some minor math skills.

Then we listening to music, chatted and baked.  Greg had brought over a pumpkin which he had roasted himself and had scooped all the inside out of an actual pumpkin and put it into containers.  He also shaved little chunks off a chocolate bar which we used for chocolate chips.  We anxiously awaited the final result, as with baking, obviously eyeballing measurements is not ideal and can result in disaster.  However it was a great success!!!

Look at all that Pumpkin bread!!!  We made 7 batches!!

Idea for next weeks cooking session: macaroni and cheese!

Here is the recipe we used for our Pumpkin bread (courtesy of Food Network, my favorite!):


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups shredded fresh pumpkin
Chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Combine both mixtures and fold in the shredded pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. Once the ingredients are all incorporated pour into a non- stick 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. If your pan is not non- stick coat it with butter and flour.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. At this point a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. For muffins temperature should also be 325 degrees F., but bake for 30 minutes.

And finally, last night after mine and Greg's baking frenzy, I had a wonderful conversation with one of my very best friends from back home in Boston.  So that was really great <3 I miss her a lot.  I miss her great sense of humor, which often veered into crude territory, just my type of humor haha.  I miss talking with her about all sorts of things.  She is an engaging and interesting conversationalist, while also being an excellent listener.  She is warm hearted, thoughtful and so generous.  She is a friend I am very lucky to have.  It made me happy to be caught up on the details of her life, and we shared some gut-busting laughs as well.  Lots of fun!

Alrighty then, all.  I am over and out for now!  Stay tuned for more job updates within the next few days.  Fingers crossed for more interviews!!!

“Be believing, be happy, don't get discouraged. Things will work out.” 

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