In the past I’ve taught full-time on the 5-week course and found it just brought flooding back to me all the reasons why I gave up teaching in the first-place (the long hours, endless marking and preparation, and the stress of constantly feeling under-prepared). So this year I did half-time and was able to really enjoy getting to know my class, of mostly Chinese students about to start on Masters courses.
More importantly I was able to get a feel for their language strengths and weaknesses. There were materials available to teach, but inevitably I reverted to form and spent a lot of time writing my own materials to use. It was such a luxury to have real students making real mistakes and asking real questions to work from and then to try to create materials and activities directly in response. I say ‘luxury’ because most of my time is spent creating materials based on my general knowledge of EFL, past experience or learner corpus evidence, and I often get the sneaking suspicion that somehow I’m missing something. So it was nice to find myself picking up on language points in class which I’ve been working on for a current project and to explore some of my ideas with real students. And I’m pleased to say that although they brought up a few points I hadn’t thought of, I found most of my ideas to be on the right track. Nice to be reassured.