What happens next? A journal entry by Aoife Maguire

I wouldn’t say I’m a superstitious person, but… I do believe in magpie luck, I don’t like broken mirrors, and most recently I have begun to notice that my daily game of Wordscapes has started to send me signs. Two days ago the words; jobless, slob, and loss, all turned up. Initially, I was kind of annoyed. I was like, Wordscapes, cut it out.

You see, myself and all the other teachers in our language school have been temporarily laid off. And I don’t like being temporarily laid off. It doesn’t sit well with me. There’s the obvious drawback of the financial hit, there’s the sudden lack of daily routine and interaction with my colleagues, but on top of all that I realise I am beginning to really miss some of my students.

Now it’s not that I ran in to work every morning with a giant smile on my face. And there are undoubtedly many issues within the ESL industry itself… But one of the great joys of teaching English as a foreign language is getting to properly chat to people from so many different backgrounds, cultures, and countries. A Saudi Arabian woman talking about her experience of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is a very different experience to reading about it in a paper. And it might not be what you want or even expected to hear. But it’s her story, and she’s telling it in her way, and that can be very special.

It can be great craic too. Last September an older, and I had thought very reserved, Japanese lady had us all in stitches about the different options of music and volume you could play to cover up your “bodily noises” in a Japanese public toilet. Two years ago a thirty year old Colombian man had everyone up on their feet learning to Salsa dance for half an hour. And more recently one very special middle eastern student surprised us, with twenty minutes to go before the end of class, with a delicious homemade Kabsa feast. She had been up cooking since five thirty in the morning, and had even taken a taxi into school for the occasion. This list goes on and on.

I know I’m meant to be looking at the silver lining in all of this covid situation. And yes, I agree it’s great that we’ve all had the chance to have a rest and that nature is beginning to recover. But I liked spending twenty hours a week with people from all over the world. I liked what I could learn. And I think they did too.
I don’t know what Ireland’s ESL industry is going to look like when all this is over, never mind what an ideal version of it should look like. But I do know that right now my world has shrunk, and that I really miss the sheer quantity and diversity of people I used to meet in my “old normal”. And while I absolutely acknowledge the very many negative aspects of mass globalisation, I also know that when a room is a melting pot of cultures it can be a very enriching place to be.

So, I’ve been consulting my daily Wordscapes game to get a bit of a steer about what might happen next… Today it gave me the words: rollout, tour, and loot – which I think might mean that I should consider robbing a series of banks?

Might keep that one up my sleeve, will try again tomorrow 😉



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