2021 Vision – Extra Curricular

Some weeks the focus of your achievement has to come back to mind and body, even if not exclusively, as I alluded to in my first 2021 Vision post back in January. Now February has arrived and I find I’ve lost around 4 kilos in as many weeks, I’m regularly taking 10,000+ steps a day, and I’ve come out of a ‘dry January’ fitter and healthier for the experience.

There are extra-curricular benefits to teaching English too. With the wide variety of areas of work my students are drawn from, I find I’m gaining insights I can use in teaching them, but also a little knowledge to enrich my own understanding of things I maybe take for granted.

From the student working in banking I’m learning about how credit card transactions actually work; from the software developer applying for jobs, I’m exploring how the recruitment system works in a sector other than my own. Helping another English teacher speak more naturally, I’m finding the opportunity to discuss subjects like language acquisition; while I can also exchange thoughts on food and wine with another student with a gastronomic passion. Each insight may not be life changing, but as a whole the exchange is enriching.

Getting away from the desk is a priority, whether that’s spending a couple of hours walking and ‘chewing the fat’ with my walking buddy, or walking the dog for half an hour in the rain. It doesn’t have to be that active either, so time in the kitchen making harissa paste is a welcome break, as are 20 minutes brushing up on my Spanish with a good book or on ‘DuoLingo’, as I’m trying to do (successfully, so far) on a daily basis.

Brushing up with a good book… and a dictionary

This week I also managed to publish Common Courtesies, partly completed, on the InternationalEyes website, having reflected on which languages to concentrate on, and which would be ‘works in progress.’ It was interesting to see how few other websites have anything like the same content, without adverts and a lot of jumping from page to page, but it’s a useful exercise and there are some great resources out there to support learning, like Benny Lewis’s Fluent in 3 months and some of Wiley’s ‘for dummies’ languages books.

I’ve been traipsing through webpages, phrase books, dictionaries and language guides to pull together the useful phrases about pleases and thankyous, experiences of hospitality, hellos and goodbyes. Quite a challenge working out approximate pronunciations for some of the phrases too, but it’s helped keep the grey matter busy in the evening!

And I’ve just found, though not yet explored in detail, what looks like a useful guide to culture, customs and etiquette, covering over 80 different countries. It’s clear about not quoting the site or republishing its contents, so I’ll not do so here, but I’d encourage anyone interested in how to be polite in different cultural settings to take a look.

And finally this week, my latest extra curricular discovery is the BBC Word of Mouth podcast on ‘Being a polyglot’. Everything resonates with what I believe about the value and methods of learning a new language. A great interview with a practical enthusiast. Half an hour well spent.

And after all that it’s still been a productive week in the day job! So mind and body refreshed, I’m heading on to another week to see where it takes me, and hope that the world soon becomes accessible again. The outside, extra curricular, world will have to do for now.

Published by John Humphreys

Education and leisure industry professional with over 30 years' experience and a focus on delivering international experiences and employability development.

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