The greatest satisfaction in teaching comes from seeing my students grow in confidence.
Yes, of course it’s wonderful when they conquer the dreaded and quite difficult English exams (IELTS and TOEFL) where they’re faced with sections which include reading. writing, listening and speaking. Or the brutal SATS and APT which add in maths, logic and reasoning. Sometimes it’s hard enough to do these in your own language, never mind a foreign one which you’ve only been speaking for a few years!
I wholeheartedly admire my students tenacity as they patiently learn tedious vocabulary lists and tackle organising their thoughts and words into formal, informal and semi-formal paragraphs and phrases.
On the days when they just can’t get their pronunciation right, or when yet another weird rule of English grammar makes no sense, I’m right there helping them to jump over the hurdles and keep on going.
For many of my students this is the only way to reach the promised lands of England, or Australia, Canada, New Zealand or America.
Informal discussion classes with unusual topics are a great way to practice English. These students are thinking up ways to fool the other team.
However I always feel that I’d be doing them a disservice if these were the only things I focussed on.
I’ve mentioned before that I like my classes to be fun, interesting, active and dynamic.
During discussions no-one gets to shy away at the back letting the others do all the talking. Everyone speaks because everyone has a view on stimulating and unusual topics. In this way they get to practice conversationals skills without feeling as though they’re under the spotlight. Nerves are eliminated or at least signficantly reduced allowing them to just be themselves.
Most students are with us for an average of three months, some a little less, some a little longer.
This is a good amount of time to measure progress in soft skills such as confidence in speaking in front of a group, willingness and ability to work with others and encouraging classmates.
When, at the end of this time period, the corridors are filled with bold chatter and students are suggesting activities that they’d like to try within the group, I’m ready to ‘clap along like a room without a roof.’
Yes, grammar and everything that goes along with it is vital but so is the self-assuredness that will take you into another country and a new life with your head held high, ready to ace challenges because your backbone is stronger and you’re no longer afraid.
I don’t instil this courage in our centre’s youth, it’s already there but sometimes undiscovered. However, I’m really glad I can be a part of bringing it to the fore.