Opportunities

My teaching load is lighter for December which gives me space to be taking on a couple more individual business clients. I’m open to clients from anywhere in the world as long as their work interests me and I feel that I can be helpful tEveryone is my teachero their business or cause. Anyone interested in discussing opportunities is welcome to contact me on michellehanton@gmail.com

Why is the load lighter? Well, two of my classes finished up on Friday as they head to their English exams tomorrow. These are external exams with examiners coming from Trinity College in the UK. It’ll be strange not to see them every day after having spent the last 2 months together. We enjoyed a great last day together including celebrating a birthday at morning tea and then lunch after the final class.

I find it so rewarding working with motivated students and clients alike. The pleasure I experience as a result of their success is really hard to describe and I guess the most recent public success was Katrina Fong Lim’s election night victory but all successes bring me the same pleasure which is why I so love being able to choose clients that align with my values and best of all I also learn from all these wonderful experiences. Life is indeed wonderful.

Michelle

Winter is coming

enhanced-buzz-30297-1390342908-1
George R R Martin is a huge hit round here

It was 6 degrees when I woke up this morning. I’ll definitely have to pile an extra blanket on my bed tonight if I won’t want to turn into a popsicle. The change in weather has been very sudden and from wearing a sleeveless top last week I am now in a thermal. My latest purchase today was a pair of boots and I’ve fished out the heater for tonight.

The breeze is cold so I’m all bundled up as I walk to work which brings back memories of days spent working in UK and how I never liked going to work in the cold weather. On the upside it never snows here and the sun shines brightly to warm me. Last week, I was busy crossing the road to walk in the shade and this week I’m doing the reverse and chasing the sunny side of the street.

My students have been coming to class all excited about Game of Thrones Season 5 which has just wrapped up filming in Osuna which is the next town to us. Several attended casting calls for locals or have friends who were lucky enough to land a role as an extra. It’s a big deal for the locals as tourism is expected to get a boost as a result of these locations being chosen. In a place which has a high unemployment rate (34.5%) this is welcome news. English is definitely the key to employment and explains why there are so many language schools in Spain and the high demand for native English speakers.

Michelle

Why the change of lifestyle……an answer to the question so many are asking

As a child I lived all over the world and called several different counties home. My father worked for the United Nations and this somewhat nomadic lifestyle was the life I was born into, so of course, I did not realise that our lifestyle was so different. As I grew older and stared work in London I would work few months to save enough money and head off somewhere on my travels.

One of my trips took me to Australia and I met my husband. Family life and commitments meant my wanderlust had to be curbed. Four years ago I found myself single again with my children almost all grown up – Sasha was about to finish school and head to university – the a little voice that lurked deep in the back of my head started saying that now was the time I could start thinking about make my dream of travelling and living abroad come true.

The only problem was that I would need money to live overseas for any length of time or I would need some kind of income stream. This presented a dilemma as it reduced where I could go with my current skills to just English speaking countries. I pondered how I could possible work in countries where my knowledge of the local language was not exactly top quality or in many cases non-existent.

After some research and analysis I decided that I could use a skill that I already possessed and knew was in high demand – English.

I was always good at this subject at school and for many years have been editing and writing for others so why not develop my English further by learning to teach?

My Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) studies had to happen in conjunction with working full time and this meant when the schedule was really full my studies when on hold for bit.

Luckily I found English classes a very refreshing break from my day-to-day work because the students were all so keen and eager to learn. They looked to their future with the view that learning English was a way to secure their future life.

My TESOL studies open up a whole new world. I was forced to exercise my brain in a totally different way and exposed to so many new concepts around the acquisition of a second language.

Through my training I met an amazing array of individuals, all with incredible stories to tell, of their journey to settle in Australia. I also met teachers with interesting stories of where they had been and the things they had experienced.

One of the positives of being a TESOL teacher is that none of the students know my history. I am just their English teacher. They know nothing about my awards, my breast cancer journey or my business successes and therefore there are no expectations other than for me to help them learn English.

It is really nice to be able to live in anonymity without people expecting me to live up to a reputation.

The other reason for this change is I’ve always told my clients they can achieve whatever they set their minds to and sometime I think they are sceptical. But I am walking the walk as well as having talked the talk.

I am demonstrating that, despite the fact I am no longer a spring chicken, I am perfectly capable of moving across the world and finding a job in a country that does not use English as its main language.

I was successful in achieving my goal because I took a very strategic approach. I had a plan.

Today I’m paid a good wage in a country where unemployment figures are 24.5%, have a very comfortable apartment and am enjoying this new way of life whilst also, thanks to the business hours I keep, am able to keep a little toe in the business world by continuing to mentor, provide strategic advice and write.

I’m also sticking to my philosophy of choosing to only work with people who I have a mutual respect for.

I’m working at an English Academy where the policy is to keep the fees as low as possible as the boss believes that education should be available to everyone and she offers many additional extra’s that other places would charge for and this is really valuable to those who have no jobs and so little money.

How long will I stay? Who know! Let’s see which way the wind blows.

Hasta luego
Michelle

WHAT MY CURRENT JOB IS

Several of you have been emailing and asking exactly what I am doing. Well after being CEO at Lifeline Top End I am now teaching English as a second language. This is not a complete surprise for those who know me. It’s been something I’ve been working on for about 3 years now which has included doing Cert IV, private clients in Darwin as well as working as a volunteer with asylum seekers and refugees (yes, while I had my regular job). I have 2 conversation classes, 1 business English class, one class of teenagers who come in twice a week, a class of advanced English students once a week and a class of uni students once a week, and the rest are two different levels of English all preparing to do the Trinity College exams that come in twice a week for sessions of 2 hours each. My class has several Manuel’s and lots of Maria’s but thankfully they all have their own nicknames so it makes life easier – and no the Manuel’s are not like the one in Fawlty Towers!

I have formal Spanish lessons starting Thursday and thus far have manage to get by with rusty memory of school days lessons and Italian words hoping I get a hit! So far no great disasters apart from the extra bread rolls I mentioned last update. Have managed photocopying, domestic tasks (with lots of hand gestures to help along the comprehension) and shopping. Today I tackled the social security which was the biggest challenge as all the paperwork was in Spanish that I had to fill in but you have to go to Social Security here to get a number that goes on your work contract. Next I have to go to Seville to the police and get a Spanish ID card but that cannot happen till I get my Social Security number, then when I have the ID card I need to go back to Social Security again for them to note it down. Yes, it’s a bit of to-ing an fro-ing but everyone is extremely pleasant to deal with and it’s the system so I just go with the flow – take a number, go have a coffee across the road, come back and check what number they are up to, go to the supermarket, come back again and check the numbers – you get the idea.

On the whole life in Spain is very pleasant. Work days are most civilized with a start of 10am every day except Thursday when it is 9. Long siesta break from 12 till 4 (just about everything shuts) then a few more hours work in the evening. It’s totally different to Australian work practices and I know it could drive some folks nuts but it’s working for me. Sunday is also a day when everything is shut so you have to get organised and do your grocery shopping in advance – none of the 7 day a week trading nonsense/convenience depending on which way you choose to look at it!

The only thing that is a little hard to get used to is the fact that the church bells ring through the night – yep, every hour! I must admit I must be getting accustomed to the sound as now I only hear them about twice a night. Give me another week and I reckon I might be able to sleep through them all night 🙂

Why did I decide to make this change of career is another question several of you asked. Promise I will answer that one in my next blog.

Michelle

Move to Ecija…update

I spent the morning travelling to what will be my new base for the next little while. Ecija, with a population of just over 40,000, is a little over an hour from Sevilla in the province of Andalusia. It’s been referred to as the frying pan of Andalusia as temperatures can soar in summer to being the hottest in Spain!

Ecija has been a Roman and then a Moorish town. It has lots of narrow, winding cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, 11 towers, a pile of churches (not sure how many yet) and of course a bull ring.

20140924_194337
One of the 11 towers – snapped from the main square

Anne, who hails from Belgium originally and has also been to Darwin, picked me up from the local bus station. She is my new boss and has been here for 3 years. First task of the day was looking at apartments. I am delighted to report I’ve found one already and move in tomorrow.

Everyone seems very friendly but hardly anyone speaks English so my mastery of Spanish is going to have to come along pretty quickly and at least I can already understand a lot of what is said if they speak slowly!

This afternoon (read here 5.30 pm as that is when afternoon seems to start) I went for a walk though town. Shops were full of people at 7.30 and squares filled with families of all ages with kids in prams, on bikes, kicking footballs and roller skating before heading home for dinner. Anne informs me that in these parts we don’t say ‘Buenos notches’ till after 10 pm at night.

I also now have a Spanish mobile number thanks to a lovely Moroccan girl serving me and between a cross of Arabic, French and Spanish the phone is operational! I was also complimented on my Arabic pronunciation which I am amazed and pleased with given it is so very many years since I have used the language.

Tonight I am in a delightful little pension that is located in an 18th century house complete with traditional courtyard and right in the old centre of town. My room is massive and comes with the most enormous bathroom complete with claw foot bathtub that I intent to relax in a little later this evening and fantastic wi-fi connection – talk about a contrast!

Michelle