The EFL Teacher

MartaMartina, as you can see, looks like she earns her living on a catwalk but she’s in fact a teacher. An EFL teacher. Just writing these words a cold shiver runs down my spine. I am absolutely terrified of teaching. I’m crap at explaining things, especially things like language. Teaching is for me the absolute horror job, but wait to see Martina’s perspective. That’s what I call real, blessed passion, and she’s passionate in everything she does.

In a few words, what exactly do you do?

Officially, I work at Triton College, Illinois where I teach English. In reality, I learn Life from the most amazing selection of students. Every semester our classroom becomes this live, vivid, throbbing diversity nest with students from all over the globe – Mexico, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Romania, Israel, Thailand, Korea, Morocco, the Philippines, Algeria, Togo, Egypt, China, Benin, Slovakia, Serbia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay, Iran, Chile, Iraq, India, and many more! Each student is in their own way an ambassador of culture, of history, of beliefs. Each brings with them a piece of homeland that defines them and yet, in that classroom they come together, united by the universal dream for a better life. Being part of that energy is an extraordinary experience. And I get paid for it. Quite a bargain!

Why do you love your job?

I love language, I love people. And the most beautiful way to connect these two is through an act of giving, of helping. Helping people with language – this is the magic formula for me. I was still in University when I thought it’d be fun to teach English on the weekends and I started at this language center. It was right after the very first class that I knew this was what I was supposed to do. It felt like I had always known how to do it. It felt right. And at the end of the day I had more energy and enthusiasm than at the beginning. A job that worked in reverse and left you inspired instead of tired? – I was sold for life.

Is there anything you’d rather do?

Nope. I am very, very lucky that I get to do what I do.

What’s your most terrible work experience?

I had a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of class: the zipper of my pants went undone. I had no idea that it had happened and so I was happily trotting up and down among the students’ desks, engaged in deep discussion about Conditional Clauses, when a female student shyly gestured toward my crotch and I looked down to discover my lingerie was in full view!! Oh the horror! I still cringe at the memory but I guess these are the risks of live streaming: when you teach you are not comfortably cuddled away in some cubicle but you put yourself out there in front of 20 something pairs of eyes and losing a button becomes a shared experience. At least I was wearing matching underwear.

And you dream about?

At night – all sorts. Last week I had this crazy dream about my friend Ellen and Brad Pitt, they were best pals and he was a bit snobbish and I lost my bag… During the day – not about Mr. Pitt. I am married to this amazing man who leaves little to dream about.

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