Adventurous hike to Chorro de las Campanas

Medellín is a popular destination among foreign visitors to Colombia. It may not be the best choice when it comes to your first job as an English teacher, but the city is really impressive. There are plenty of interesting sights such as Pueblito Paisa, but you can also go on trips to other places in Antioquia. Probably the most popular one is Guatapé, which is located close to the amazing Piedra del Peñol. If you don’t have much time, you can simply take the Metrocable to Parque Arví. For those who love something a bit more adventurous, there is another really nice place that can be reached by public transport.

Adventurous hike to Chorro de las Campanas

Envigado is officially a separate town, but visiting it will make you feel like you are still in Medellín. It’s only seven metro stops away from the centre and you can actually walk there from El Poblado. Many people prefer living in Envigado because it allows you to stay in a calm neighbourhood while being reasonably close to everything you need. Its location is also convenient for trips to places such as Parque El Salado and Cuevas del Higuerón.

If you like hiking, I recommend visiting a waterfall called Chorro de las Campanas, which is located close to Envigado. Let me show you what it looks like, and if you would like to know how to get there, just scroll down and keep reading.

Adventurous hike to Chorro de las Campanas

The hike to the waterfall starts in Arenales, which is just 7 kilometres away from the metro station in Envigado. Although the easiest option is to get a taxi, the most entertaining one is provided by the local bus leaving from the southern exit of the metro station. The last section of the winding road is very narrow and maybe a little scary, but that’s the only way to get to Arenales. Although most of the buses turn around and return to Envigado, some of them continue to La Catedral, which now contains facilities for senior citizens. Don’t hesitate to ask the driver to confirm that you’re in the right place.

The trail to Chorro de Las Campanas is easy to follow. If you go there at a weekend, there will most likely be other visitors to show you the correct way. You can also use this helpful Wikiloc trail to guide you. At the beginning, you have to go downhill towards the small river, and the only thing to pay attention is that when you reach a gate, you should take the path to the left of it. You will then reach a narrow concrete bridge crossing the stream, and that’s where the fun part starts. If you get lucky, you may be able to see colourful butterflies.

Adventurous hike to Chorro de las Campanas

The hike to the waterfall is pretty straightforward since you just have to follow the stream. You will cross it several times, and in some places it’s actually easier to wade through the water due to thick vegetation on both sides of the stream. You can walk barefoot if you feel comfortable with that, or you might want to take an extra pair of shoes for the hike. I tried to keep my feet dry as long as possible, but in the end I gave up and decided to walk through the stream. Going back home in my soaking wet hiking boots wasn’t the most pleasant experience ever.

Adventurous hike to Chorro de las Campanas

The waterfall is just a kilometre away from the bridge, but the hike isn’t exactly easy because of the terrain. Getting wet is part of the adventure, and there are also several natural pools to take a dip in. Some visitors even jump into the icy cold water directly under the waterfall to cool off after the hike. If you are hungry for more adventure, you can continue to Salto del Ángel and La Catedral, which involves going through some rather challenging passages of the trail. The other option is to go back to Arenales and catch a bus to Envigado. Whichever route you choose, you won’t regret it because both of them are great choices for spending time in an amazing place away from the busy city.

Review: 100+ Professional Development Tips for Post-CELTA Teachers

When I was writing my post on the shortcomings of CELTA, I was delighted to receive a notification about a new ebook dedicated to professional development of newly-certified teachers. The book was written by Pete Clements, the author of the excellent blog ELT Planning. He has posted many reviews of books, apps, and other resources on his website, so I was curious to see what his own product looks like.

100+ professional development tips for post-CELTA teachers

100+ Professional Development Tips for Post-CELTA Teachers can be bought for 4 US dollars on Amazon or Smashwords. I chose to get it from the latter because I have already purchased several books through the website. In his ebook, Clements recommends other self-published titles such as Sandy Millin’s ELT Playbook 1 and Phil Wade and Anthony Gaughan’s Teach Reflect Develop: A Month of Reflective Teaching Activities (this one is for free). I find the idea of publishing an ebook really intriguing because I guess it feels a little more serious compared to blogging. At the moment I don’t feel ready for that, but maybe I’ll explore this option at some point in the future.

It seems that the book is available only in the EPUB format at the moment. I’d prefer to have the option to download it as a PDF file because that would make it a little more convenient to read on a PC. You can use one of many free online converters to help you change the file type, so it’s not a big deal. When it comes to the book itself, there are no unnecessary gimmicks and it’s all about the content, so let’s take a look at what you can find there.

At first, Clements suggests checking out some useful resources. It’s nice to see Scott Thornbury’s book About Language among the recommended titles because there isn’t enough time to study grammar on the CELTA course, and that book will help you gain more knowledge in the area. There are also plenty of links to helpful blogs, Facebook groups, podcasts, etc. In addition, the author provides a few tips for developing on the job.

Most of the ebook comprises practical tips for your teaching practice. For example, there are useful sub-skills and strategies that you can teach in a conversation class (e.g. backchannelling, hedging, and vague language). The author also mentions helpful techniques for building speaking confidence with teenage students, which is sometimes challenging even for experienced teachers. Other sections extend the knowledge gained on the CELTA course in relation to classroom organisation and whiteboard work.

There is also a chapter dedicated to writing formal lesson plans. While that ability is undoubtedly important when taking a course with assessed teaching practice, I wonder how often teachers in entry-level positions actually have to do that. When I landed my first proper job, I was relieved to find out that I didn’t need to produce detailed CELTA-style lesson plans in my day-to-day practice! Yes, it’s important to consider many aspects of the lesson you are about to teach, but I think this topic could have been made a little less daunting by emphasising that you don’t need to write everything down when you plan your lessons. When it comes to being observed, I’d recommend sticking to the lesson plan template provided by the employer or course provider in order to avoid getting bogged down with trying to include as much information as possible.

My favourite part of the ebook deals with teaching pronunciation. Novice teachers often struggle with this area due to not receiving sufficient training. Understanding phonology requires a lot of studying from the teacher’s side, and gaining confidence to use that knowledge in the classroom takes some time. Clements provides some pretty cool ideas and pronunciation activities. Of course, it’s important to go beyond individual phonemes and focus on features such as connected speech or sentences stress since they play a crucial role in terms of intelligibility.

If you are familiar with the ELT Planning blog, you’ll know what to expect from the ebook. The author’s writing style makes everything clear and easy to follow. When you read the book, you feel like you are receiving useful advice from a supportive experienced colleague, which is exactly what newly-certified teachers need. The ebook is available for a reasonable price, and I highly recommend it to those who have recently started teaching. I wish I had read something like this immediately after finishing my CELTA because I spent the following 18 months learning to teach through trial and error, and it took me a long time to discover resources that pointed me in the right direction.

As the author himself points out, 100+ Professional Development Tips for Post-CELTA Teachers isn’t a comprehensive guide. For example, I think that newly-qualified teachers would also benefit from learning more about teaching listening skills or working with children. The ebook doesn’t explicitly deal with online teaching either even though being able to do that is now part of our professional lives. Clements suggests that this could be the beginning of a series, and I hope that he publishes more titles on professional development. New teachers don’t always receive enough support from their employer, so looking for advice elsewhere is a very good idea. I believe that reading this kind of publications can help them a lot in the first few years of their career.