For over a year now, every day I have woken up feeling anxious. Anxious that I am going to make a mistake in my job. I’m sure that this is a feeling that many people feel and have felt during their working lives. There are a whole host of anxiety inducing jobs and what could possibly be the cause of my anxiety? Grammar! English grammar is a dread not just for me, but for many other dyslexics out there. But, so what? Well, I’m currently working as an English Language Teacher in Italy and it requires to me to deal with grammar every day.
“Teacher, what is purpose of Past Perfect Continuous?”;“Prof, do I need to use the Reflexive Verb in this sentence?” ;“John, what phrasal verbs are the most important?”
These are just a few of the questions that, to be honest, left me a bit confused. The use of English was, is, and will be a struggle in my life, but now it is a crucial part of my job – to teach it to non-native speakers. Now, I know I’ve got no one else to blame but myself for my current job choice, but that doesn’t comfort me when I wake up and think to myself of all the lessons I have to teach. Going into classrooms and trying to remember the verb to be for a group is ‘they are’ and not ‘they our’. I need to remember the contraction of ‘would’ve = would have’ and not ‘would of’ , despite this is how it sounds. And let’s not even mention my lingering doubt over the spelling of ‘because’ and ‘February‘ (and even for this blog post I accidently spelled many things wrong like Febuary – thank god for spell checker).
While my anxiety is not nearly as bad as it was at the beginning of my time In Italy, it still persists. It no longer affects me to such a large extent. Yes, I still think “What if I teach them the wrong grammar and they use it for life?” But, this worry has lessened over time. After many hours of looking at grammar books, completing exercises, and learning to laugh at my mistakes in front of my students, I have become much more confident in my teaching skills.
John Devine, Dyslexia Scotland Young Ambassador
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One thought on “Teaching English: a dyslexic perspective”
Fascinating blog. Thank you, John. Got me thinking about learning, teaching and assessment in the 21st Century. A good article by William Davies in the London Review of Books a few weeks ago, on ‘the mechanisation of learning’ (!). His article ends with him saying how important it is to facilitate ‘unrecorded, unaudited speech, and of uninterrupted reading and writing’. This is what’s going on in your classroom. All power to your teaching elbow.