Thursday, July 28, 2011

Will Miss #346 - teaching English (the good)

I've already written that I love my students, but that is because I currently mostly work freelance in a situation which allows me to work with people who are rather different from the general population of language learners in "eikaiwa" (English conversation schools). Because of my specialized circumstances, I have fewer of the passive people I mentioned in the previous post, and more active talkers. The truth is that I "moved on up" to an office job after being a teacher for a few years, but am happier having moved "back down" to teaching. From a personal growth and experience viewpoint, it is much more fulfilling. It's not only that I learn about people, but that a lesson that carries out beautifully from the viewpoint of material selection, pacing, energy levels, and tone is a thing of beauty, and I make it that way. I'm not a monkey teacher jumping around and acting foolish to entertain. I come across as "a real person" with my students, and they love that. And though it may appear effortless, it most certainly is not. Knowing when to listen, when to speak, when to wait, how to phrase a question, how to react, what topics to discuss with a particular student, etc.  takes a lot of skill. What is more, I often provide an emotionally therapeutic environment for students. Often speaking in English is more liberating for Japanese folks and they'll confess frustrations, opinions, and other feelings that they can't or won't share in Japanese. I'm sometimes told at the end of such lessons that the student came into the lesson stressed, and is leaving feeling lighter.

When a lesson comes off smoothly, elegantly, and at the end feels like I just spent a pleasant hour with another human being or when I know the interaction I've had with a student is cathartic and makes them feel better, I know I've accomplished something and done my job well. I'll miss that.