I’m back in Mexico and that means I’m back on line taking courses again. There are so many of them out there and it’s hard to choose. But here are the three I’m doing now.
Duolingo. I’ve been doing this one for years now to improve my Spanish. When I go up north for a few months every year I always take a break from Duolingo. But seeing as I’m the only gringa in my neighborhood, I really need my Spanish. I have friends learning other languages on this site, but for now I’m quite content with Spanish only.
Commune. This is a new one to me. There are a variety of guest speakers on this site primarily geared toward women. Breathing, body image and yoga have shown up in the first couple of days. So far it’s been interesting. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll sign on for the full course. I’ll make that decision once the free trial ends.
Coursera. I’ve taken several courses on this site in the past. While I’m mainly interested in psychology, I have taken other courses in writing, philosophy, anthropology and sociology. Right now I’m taking a course from Yale called The Science of Well Being. I did the preliminary survey and discovered that I’m not as happy as I thought I was. Interesting. Once the course ends I get to do the survey again and then compare the results with the preliminary one.
So this is what I’m doing at the moment in my quest for learning. I highly recommend taking courses online. As a bonus, when you audit there are no tuition fees and there is no exam stress. Instead it’s possible to learn at your leisure. And at this stage of my life, this is a great way to keep on learning from the comfort of my home.
I’m retired now, but I’m often asked what kinds of challenges I faced while teaching English here in Mexico. I basically divide them into two distinct areas….. actual English teaching in the classroom and the challenges associated with the difference in the culture here from up north.
In the classroom, aside from the obvious grammar and pronunciation, there were the more abstract things included in the curriculum. I always found the topic of white lies versus black lies a challenge. There was always that one student who insisted that his steady girlfriend of so many years didn’t need to know about the new woman in his life because he wasn’t sure which one he wanted to be with until he got to know the new one better. He’d tell his girlfriend he was going out for a beer with the guys instead. In his eyes this was no different than telling a friend his new shirt was amazing even though he really thought the shirt was hideous.
Classroom management was definitely an adventure. Teacher aides for students with behavioral issues such as autism simply do not exist here. At one private school where I taught I had one student who consistently tried to climb out of a second story window when he wasn’t interested in the topic we were studying at the moment. Needless to say, his behavior always disrupted the entire class.
As a teacher, students rely on you for far more than just teaching them English. They often came to me with personal problems. The culture here is different, and I was always cautious, especially when it came to teenagers. Many problems students struggle with are really quite universal, adults and children alike, no matter which country you live in.
But these challenges pale in comparison with what teachers face today in light of COVID-19. The additional responsibility for providing safety from infection to students is huge, not to mention that teachers are putting their own lives at risk the moment they step into the classroom.
There is so much controversy about whether or not schools should open again when the virus is still surging. Here in Mexico the schools will not open this month. My heart goes out to teachers everywhere else in the world where schools are reopening. I admire your dedication and I pray for your safety.