Teaching Dilema


Tom: We’re both English teachers. Is there anything you hate about teaching English?

Jess: There’s actually not much that I hate about teaching English but there is one thing which drives me balmy, and annoys me more than anything else and that’s correcting the same mistake over, and over, and over again, and it seems that every country in which I’ve worked, every nationality in English learners have one mistake that they always make over and over again. In Hungary, when you say how are you to a Hungarian student, they’ll reply in English, I’m feeling myself well, which is a direct translation from Hungarian but sounds rather strange and a little bit rude in English, and I must have corrected that mistake millions of times while I was there. The same students again and again and again and again, so the repetition of making the same correction really gets my goat. How about you? What do you hate about teaching?

Tom: I really wouldn’t say I hate something about teaching, but I definitely think there are things that waste my time when I’m teaching. After every lesson, I very carefully right up a lesson plan, bring all those materials together, put it in a little plastic wallet and store it away in a folder, and I know full well I will never open that folder to read about that lesson again. I kind of approach every lesson as fresh and new and try and come up with something different and every time I’m writing them all up, doing all this paperwork and I really don’t need to. I need to get in control of myself and stop doing that. You told me what you most dislike about teaching, but I’m sure you love this job. What are some things you like about English teaching?

Jess: I think the thing I like the most about teaching is what I call the “Ah-hah” moment when you’re studying a language point with a class or a student and you can almost see physically the moment they understand, they moment they’re able to make sense of the language of they can do the task that you’ve asked them to do, and you can almost see a light bulb go off above their head, “Ah-hah! Now I understand.” and I love that. I love the surge of confidence that gives the students and also makes me feel really good that I helped them to reach that point. What do you love about teaching Tom?

Tom: The thing I really love is right at the end of the course, when the students come up to you after a long time of haranguing about homework and about being late and about correction and drilling and the students come up and say, “Teacher, we’re all going to dinner at the end of the course. Do you want to come with us?” and that must makes me smile. Now, I know I saying this to you Jess, but I know there’s a lot of people out there listening to this. It really makes my heart warm to go and have some social time with the students at the end of a long course.

Jess: So the thing you like most about teaching is when the teaching is finished?

Tom: Oh, you’ve got me on that one, yes.