Page 25 - FIS World October 2018
P. 25

Back to School
Skills training at 50!
 Trailing spouse, third-culture kids and adults, IB learner profiles, and the wide world of English as a Second Language (ESL) were all new concepts four years ago to me as a newly arrived parent to FIS. This was August 2014, a time when the Stroth Center was a construction site that drew curiosity and admiration, and I quickly realized that our children’s new school lived its mission of truly being a family orientated learning institution. After four fruitful years of rootedness in FIS, I found myself asking: “What is a 50-plus year-old trailing spouse, third-culture adult who wants to be a risk taker (it finally happened at 50) and a thinker, who also plans ahead for the empty nest to do? Panic? No. Do it the FIS way and prepare for the future with real-life skills and enhanced knowledge. Go back to school!”
Walking with an FIS friend one day after drop off, chit-chatting about life and dreams, she suggested I should look into an ESL teacher training course. At FIS, I had been impressed by the integrative nature of English. Kids from all cultures used English. Native and non-native English speakers came to school and communicated, understood and played with each other. Parents mirrored this phenomenon. Friends from Brazil, Ukraine, Spain, and Korea eased into friendships through the English language. I consulted about ESL with former Elementary School Principal, Peter Baker, who suggested I do a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). And fortunately, there was a Cambridge University accredited CELTA course right here in Frankfurt.
This past August, I found myself in a classroom with a study group of twenty plus-year-olds,
elbow to elbow working together on Language Analysis. Translated into plain English, grammar. Uncertainty took over me since I had last studied grammar back in the 1980s! The third conditional, collocations, and functional exponents all had my head spinning. In the depths of a physically, mentally and also emotionally excruciatingly intensive four-week, 120-hour course – not to mention over 100 hours of on-course preparation – I confess, I did panic. My aspirations for the future had gone way over my life’s carrying capacity.
Luckily, family and FIS friends came to the rescue. Our school well knows that good education happens in partnership with family and a support system. Family encouraged me with caring words, “you can do it Mum!”; thoughtful boundaries, “Mum, you will not be a CELTA drop out”; and caring acts, dinner often made and ready. Friends sent messages with make-you-feel-good emojis and confidence-building advice. I made it and met my goal of getting my ESL teacher certification.
As I sat in a Stroth Center classroom listening to one of our talented teachers during Back to School Night in September, I had an “aha” moment: All good things take dedication. At FIS, I see the results of dedication all around me. Now, emboldened by our school and my teacher certification experience, equipped with a small suitcase, comfy shoes and the skills to teach English, I'm dreaming of travels to China. And just maybe, my dedicated spouse will trail behind me.
Deirdre Harriet-Boettcher FIS Parent
Back to the basics as part of a four- week intensive ESL course
 October 2018 FIS World 23

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