Teaching runs in the blood, I guess that’s how you can describe how I ended up being an ESL-Instructor. Growing up, teaching was never an option whenever people ask me what I’d like to be when I grow up or what career path I’d like to take after university.
My grandmother was an English teacher. Unlike me, she really decided on pursuing education. She really wanted to impart her knowledge and help mold minds of the younger generation. I went to the school she used to teach at, and teachers would often compare me to her; or say that I am a lot like her especially when it comes to recitation or sharing my own opinion in class. Perhaps, I unknowingly and unintentionally followed her path. Life happened, and now I am doing what I never thought I’d do. Although unplanned, I am glad this career had chosen me; and it may have taken quite some time, but now I can say that I am enjoying it.
Being an ESL-instructor at an academy isn’t exactly the same as being a school teacher. In school, teachers normally handle big group classes, but in academies the biggest group I’ve handled so far is around 8 to 10 students. School teachers work (roughly) from 8 am to 4 or 5pm, whereas academy instructors’ work schedule depends on the availability of the students. In my case, I start work at 8:30 in the morning and I normally end my classes at 9:30 in the evening. Most classes are one-to-one and instructors don’t necessarily have to have a lesson plan. Whatever the student needs help with, you help him/her; sometimes it will just be helping them with their homework, or sometimes it will be explaining a topic in class that they find confusing. Teaching at academies and teaching at schools may have some differences, but one thing is for sure, teaching is such a fulfilling job – and perhaps that’s the reason why after four years I’m still here, teaching.
Aside from the fulfillment, here are 5 more things I love about being an ESL- Instructor
- Less to no stress
Perhaps, it may just be me, but I find this profession as having less to no stress at all. Teaching hours could either be really short or really long, yet the work is still enjoyable. You are able to share your knowledge and help someone out of a confusing or difficult situation. You also get to sharpen your knowledge because of the constant reading, so stress for me is never really felt.
- Your class, your rule
Although ESL-learning is very client or student-based, you still get to choose how to educate your student. The usual class discussions still work sometimes, but the more creative you are the better. Your students are learning new concepts of a language that are completely foreign to them. Teaching the rules and other topics in an out-of-the-box way would easily help students learn faster and better. It’s a win-win situation! You get to share your knowledge while playing, and you also get to hone your creativity and problem-solving skills!
- You get to learn a new language!
Being an ESL-Instructor requires you to share your English knowledge to your students, but at certain situations, it also pays that you know a bit about their native language. In my case, I mostly teach Koreans so now I am able to understand Korean conversations, and even speak a bit of Korean. Again, win-win!
- The students
When you’re an ESL-instructor in a different country, teaching students who have been all over the globe, it isn’t surprising that they actually get to teach you more. You might be teaching them a rule or two about the English language, but they also teach you a lot about their culture – and the culture of the countries they’ve lived in or been to, respect (everything and everyone), and finding joy even in the simplest of things.
My students range from kindergartners to adults (as in, grandparents) and it is fun to adjust and play different roles in a day. Sometimes I’ll be a mom to a kindergartner, an aunt or an older sister to primary students, a friend or confidante to middle school, high school, and university students, then switch to being a younger sister or daughter to my mother or father students, and a grandchild to my grandparents students.
Just like other professions ESL teaching does get tiring at times, it may be cliché, but it is true that when you see or start interacting with your students all the tiredness disappears.
- The students’ remarks and side comments about anything and everything
Just when you thought you don’t have energy to teach your class anymore, your students’ remarks would always cheer you up! No matter how bad your day is going, once you hear your students’ stories and new discoveries, your mood instantly changes. And of course, you’d surely feel like you’re on cloud nine when your students remember to thank you for all your hard work or just by simply listening to them; even the simple everyday question, “How are you?” would really make you realize why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It doesn’t stop there. Negativity may be all around us now, but I still try to look at the brighter side of things and people. Some students may be too noisy or stubborn in class, but you know that they are genuinely good people. You’ll know this because no matter how few or how little food they have, they surely make it a point to share it with you; even feed you with their own, bare hands! Hehe
Still at times, I question why I’m here but when at the end of every day I look back at how my day went, I just smile and continue to be thankful that I’m doing what I’m doing.