I came to Spain in 2003, straight from Liverpool, where I had taken Irish Studies for an Erasmus year and met Ana (we'll marry as soon as we can) in the act. Before, I had studied English, Sociology and Politics at the University of Bochum in Germany. Now, I went on in Cáceres and took my English teacher's degree there, in 2006. Meanwhile, I had learnt Spanish as well -back in 2003 I knew just about nothing of the language.
At first, I had been a bit sceptical about me as a teacher. The main reason was that I had had some myself so splendid I could not imagine myself ever reaching their excellence. The two most distinguished among these were Mrs Seeger, my own English teacher, and Mr Thiel, my Chemistry teacher, back at high school.
My qualms began to subside when I got my first-ever real teaching job (I had done one-to-one before) with SETranslations (Cáceres). There, I taught English for business purposes, and I loved it. Also, my students' progress and enthusiasm, as well as their satisfaction, gave me the impression that, with more experience, I might one day aspire to be as good as my own teachers were. The business English course took place before I left university. Finally, I was really determined as to what I was going to do with myself once I had my degree. And so it came to pass.
From 2006/7 onwards, I have been teaching in a variety of settings, always trying to improve, to learn. Teaching is not something you can learn from books and lectures -just like you learn a language by speaking, you learn teaching by teaching. And reflection, experiment and so on, of course.
In February 2010, I started working in my first-ever high school: IES Castuera. I'd never have thought that teaching could be such fun, so fulfilling. Thanks to everyone back there! Later came Villanueva de la Serena, Mérida, Galisteo... I'm seeing a lot of Extremadura these days, aren't I?
You learn to speak by speaking. That is the truism any methodology for language teaching must be based on. And in order to make you overcome that inhibition that makes you feel self-conscious when it comes to speaking, you have to be relaxed and find the topic interesting, engaging. Speaking correctly is secondary to speaking at all, and to making communication work. With time and non-obtrusive correction, the learner's use of the language will improve. The teacher's job, thus, is seeing to it that the conditions mentioned are met.
Of course, that's not all there is to it. Quite apart from the fact that there are also reading and writing involved, again with the speaking truism applied in adapted form (texts must be in keeping with the learner etc.), methodology has to take individuality into account. Even grammar translation may work with some students in some situations, and total physical response is rather pointless with advanced students.
What about grammar teaching? Well, it all depends once more. The less time we can dedicate to learning the target language, the greater will be the extent to which we have to rely on conscious learning of patterns: We just won't have time to unconsciously acquire them. Thus, grammar teaching does indeed have its place in foreign language teaching. However, it must be embedded in a communicative framework: Grammar patterns have to be deduced, discovered, and discussed, not just presented as higher-order law, and they have to be practiced in a way that is fun and makes sense.
So much for now. Please don't hesitate to comment on my two cents.