I recently started a job which for two days of each week calls for me to ‘teach’ EAL 3 (Access) – in which there are three groups of students who started at different times, EAL 3 (Employment) and EAL 4 (Access) – in which there seem to be ridiculously irrelevant assessments.

I have never worked so hard for so little pay, and have never before seen looks on the faces of my dear students which tell me they have seen it all before –I am the third trainer to take over ‘teaching’ this class.

Back in 2013 when life was a lot easier, I was asked to teach two certificated courses within the one classroom. I likened it then to spinning plates. Little did I know …

The positives

They are delightful students in their own rights. They each have their strengths and they seem to be very aware of their current limitations. Two of these students have severe lower back pain and so their attendance is not always above 80 per cent. I feel for them having had bad sciatica back in the mid-1990s. I do wonder why job search networks continue to thrust these students forth into English classes.

I put the word ‘teach’ in speech marks because teaching and almost any pre-teaching has gone out the window. And facilitating? Forget it. Every day is assessing because we are playing catch up. There were the holidays, then the different teachers, then one teacher had to fly back to her country for a family emergency. So we are playing catch up. And these students only come two days a week. I liken it to trying to force an uncut loaf of bread in through the neck of a Coke bottle.

But because it has been ten years since I launched myself as an English language trainer, and am now of the opinion that students to need to constantly listen to the language they want to improve, and then practice it, I make sure listening and speaking take front and centre, accompanied by the grammar that explains the semantic errors my students make in their speaking. I have even got out my old CSWE 3 Student book and am going to copy pages from the complex conversations unit.

I want to do well by these students. I want to impress upon them that they can be anything they want to be. But at the moment, we have assessments to get through, but – I’m still going to fit in listening and speaking.