Ironically, teaching isn’t an entirely one-way process. While talking out loud, and finding the clearest ways to articulate yourself, you get quite a good deal as a teacher. And there’s no need to take a professional qualification to reap these benefits because you can even just help your friends…
I have just returned from my year abroad in France. French has never been a component of my degree at Warwick, but I was desperate to continue with the knowledge I had gained from A Level. And to improve my French, I decided to teach a 9-year-old boy English…
First of all, teaching children is not for the faint-hearted! If you make a mistake, they will call you out for it. And this certainly happened to me when I was teaching. Apparently, my expressions from A Level were quite formal and not day-to-day! So, I was called out for anything that sounded slightly strange and, of course, I was then taught all the words on the street.
Additionally, when you’re teaching another language, you find yourself thinking more about your native mother-tongue. There are many areas of grammar that I have taken for granted in English, as I have never properly ‘learnt’ them. Instead, I have come to know them almost automatically. But it is actually since I have come to Warwick and wrote long essays for the first time, that I have realised how much I don’t understand about English grammar. Things like ‘has’ and ‘have’ are not as simple as I used to think!
Of course, my experience of teaching doesn’t appeal to everyone. But there is a way you can teach, and learn at the same time, without doing it in such a formal setting… Teach your friends!
Helping your coursemates to understand various topics will aid your own understanding massively. Whilst teaching, you will be articulating ideas in the clearest way possible and finding their simplest forms. You will improve your confidence in areas of your syllabus and think about them from different angles in order for your friends to understand. Plus, you may be questioned and challenged in ways you hadn’t yet explored. Teaching is absolutely invaluable!
Revision can often be overwhelming due to the sheer amount of knowledge that is required. Teaching allows you to organise this knowledge into coherent ways to teach, thus making it clearer in your own head.
Use the whiteboards in the group-working areas of the library to teach your coursemates and reap these benefits.
So, when you receive thank you’s and gratitude for helping your friends understand certain things, you can feel quite smug about yourself because they have ended up helping you out more than you had anticipated.
It’s a win-win situation.