Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Teaching Update

As most of you have heard, I currently have a full schedule of students, in other words, five students, with two more on vacation and wanting to continue lessons when they return to Korea. Since each student has a lesson twice a week, that means I teach two lessons each on Monday and Wednesday and three lessons each on Tuesday and Thursday. Since we also have our Korean lesson on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, that makes for busy days. I'm really happy to be busy, though. When I'm not busy with work, I tend to spend my time watching TV and surfing the Internet, and then I feel lazy and unproductive at the end of the day. Teaching gets me out of the apartment and stimulates my brain.

I currently have three beginning students, one intermediate, and one advanced. It's a good mix. With the beginning students, I'm busy teaching the present tense and present progressive and doing vocabulary for family members, food, body parts, and visiting the doctor. My intermediate student and I are slogging through all the verb tenses and studying idioms. My advanced student and I spend our hours in conversation, and I take notes on her pronunciation and grammar errors. She and I have only met a few times, but we get along quite well. Last week, we discovered that we have the same birthday, May 31, 1979. I can't remember the last time I met someone exactly the same age as me!

It's nice to talk with my advanced student because her English is so good that we can communicate easily about all sorts of things. It's odd that I've known some of my beginning students for months, but I am still learning new things about them because of all the barriers to communication between us. The contrast between my interactions with the beginners and the more advanced students is a good reminder of an important truth about teaching English. When you teach beginning language students, it's very important to remember that their language skills in English don't reflect their full personality and intelligence in their native language. I think it's natural to associate a nascent language ability with a child's nascent intelligence, but of course that's not accurate when you're teaching adults with a plethora of interests and skills that they simply don't know how to communicate to you. I'm continually reminded of this when I'm invited to join the Brazilian community for a party and I'm the one who is mute while my students chatter easily in Portuguese and laugh at jokes that have gone straight over my head.

So, all in all, I'm happy with my full schedule, my fascinating students, and my growing experience with teaching and with how students learn. I think that I'm a much better teacher now than I was during that first overwhelming job in Poland seven years ago, and I hope I continue to improve.


Carrie said...

Sorry if I've missed this, but are you taking Korean lessons in turn? I'm retaking Russian, and it's so bizarre to know I know a word, but not know it. Wondering if anyone else is going through the growing pains of learning a language.

chrissy said...

I know you're a great teacher! It feels good to be so busy, doesn't it? But, there are days I miss the doing nothing, do you?