An ancient Ukrainian proverb says there’s only one thing better than making a new friend, and that’s keeping an old one.
Old friends aren’t necessarily only ones you went to college or grew up with. Having lived in Germany almost 12 years I’ve found some of my oldest friends here belong to an organisation I’ve been a member of almost as long: Munich English Language Teachers’ Organisation.
Yesterday we met up at Gasteig for a day-long workshop, and it was great to catch up with so many fellow expats from Britain, America and Australia - even Zimbabwe. And when expats meet they love to talk! Not only about obvious things like hourly rates, who’s hiring who, and why men should also listen to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4! But also what it’s like, for example, bringing up children bilingually in Germany. It was interesting talking to fellow Brits with children of school age. Kids who answer their parents in German when spoken to in English. Worrying for a moment about Matilda, I was reassured this is quite natural in bilingual families. Tower of Babel here we come.
The title of the training, before I forget, was “Ways to motivate and make them talk!“ and we were lucky to have a very experienced expat British teacher trainer from Salzburg present and let us try out a whole range of communicative methods. These ranged from games, songs, rhymes and raps and story telling to how to use the hilarious video “Rowan Atkinson in Hell“ in the classroom. I won’t dare show that particular clip at my school, but have collected plenty other material to jazz up my lessons!
We came out beaming like kittens licking cream off our lips. And looking forward to trying out some of these ideas in our classes – regardless whether we teach primary school kids or topdogs at Siemens.
And I also felt that for a few hours on a rainy Saturday in Munich I’d had a wonderfully welcome “fix“ of fellow native speakers and all things English to help me survive life amongst the natives of Lower Bavaria. The next big MELTA event won’t be till Christmas but I’m already longing to get in there again!