I started this blog in February 2020 after losing my job with a major industrial manufacturer the previous month. On my final visit to the manufacturing sites (my farewell tour, if you like), one of my colleagues suggested that my management and leadership style was so different to the other senior managers/Execs in the organisation that this “uniqueness” would be beneficial material for a wider audience – hence the blog (the early blog post “Bastian” refers to this).
So off I went and created this blog, not knowing at the time that the nascent virus that had started as a local issue in a place called Wuhan, China would become the global pandemic that it is and cause varying degrees of upheaval in the lives of everyone across the world. The impact it had on me is that, as I sit here in August of 2021 I am still without a job – this isn’t due to inactivity on my part, most certainly not but what I’ve observed is that the global recruitment market went into an almost immediate state of dormancy and inactivity. Unfortunately, it has kind of remained there so a radical rethink was needed – I just needed the impetus to move forward.
When reality comes home..
Financially, I could ride out the COVID storm, the exec/senior job market wasn’t going to remain in its current, semi-catatonic state forever; I could wait and get back onto the job wagon but something was niggling at me. Over lunch one Saturday my wife broached the topic,
“Andy,” she said, cautiously, “you have 30 plus years of business experience and you’re sitting around every day looking for jobs that aren’t there. It isn’t doing your mental health much good.”
So much for being cautious, I thought. And then, as if to append with some unnecessary fortitude to her analysis, casually added,
“Besides, you’re a grumpy bastard lately”.
If ever there was a definition of a come to Jesus conversation, that was it and it did the trick.
A leap into the unknown
After a brief period of typical sulking on my part, I decided that a grown-up approach to my future was needed. Within minutes I had a myriad of ideas of how I could combine my experience with teaching English to non-native English speakers in a business setting. I could TEACH! After a brief online conversation with my daughter (who’s a teacher in UAE) I had settled on the CELTA course and my journey was about to begin!
After further research I found that the British Council were running an online, 5-week intensive course to become Cambridge University – CELTA qualified, all that stood in my way was an interview to assess my suitability and the 5200 Polish zlotys enrolment fee. I was a dead cert, surely, wasn’t I?
For anyone reading this who is a) a native English speaker and b) have embarked upon the TEFL process (teaching English as a foreign language) I can say that I have the utmost admiration for your discipline and resolve.
To be entirely fair to Cambridge University, the interview process is there to ensure that you’re not throwing away the equivalent of £1000 and to ensure that the quality standards of the qualification are maintained. Notwithstanding that fact, I went into the interview with the confidence of – well, an arrogant Brit. The first interview was interrupted by a dodgy internet connection but I felt it didn’t matter, I reckoned I’d done more than enough to be accepted onto the course until the fateful email came from the CELTA tutor informing me that my knowledge of English grammar (my knowledge, I hasten to add, not my usage) was such that I would find the course too difficult!!!!! The only saving grace that I could find in this devastating judgment was that the tutor would keep a place open in the “hope” that I could study over the following two weeks and satisfy her colleague sufficiently to be accepted.
Two weeks of learning a language that I’d started off by mumbling my first utterances at the age of 12 months seemed ridiculous but learn I did. Hours of study went into learning English grammar and that was just to get me to pass the interview. What kind of hell was this!
Suffice to say, I passed the interview and was accepted onto the course.
My next post will describe how a fish feels out of water…or how a 55-year-old chap, with no teaching experience, found himself on an English language teaching course.
*words adapted from Bob Dylan’s – Times they are a changin’
© Andy Collinsson September 2021