Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday English

Today is Friday.

Friday's are my busiest day of the week. From 3 pm until 9:30 pm I have back-to-back classes and the strain of teaching for nearly 7 hours straight is exhausting! My Fridays consist of a real mix of students. From a one-on-one class with an advanced 11-year-old who says things like "My father considers Boston the cultural heart of America, but I much prefer Buffalo!", to a class with 10 intermediate-level 16-18 year old girls who say things like "Kiss my ass" and "Oh ya? Make me practise grammar", to two classes of 10-year old boys who don't say anything in English, to a class of tired adults who have just got off work and elected to spend 2 hours learning English in the evening.

By 10 pm on Friday evenings I am not only mentally drained but I also feel like a bad teacher! By the time I start the adult class I've pretty much run out of momentum. Teaching English is not only about getting vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar into the students head, it's also about entertaining. An EFL teacher is an entertainer through-and-through and it takes a lot of energy to keep so many different groups of people entertained and engaged for so long. When Friday evening rolls around I just want to give out some copies of grammar exercises and sit back.

Of course, that is not why they pay good money to learn from a native speaker. So I must struggle to keep everyone happy and entertained and, most importantly, feeling as if though they are getting their money's worth.

Thankfully Russians have an easier time learning English than Koreans do and they are able to pick up on the language much faster. Perhaps it is because, in comparison to Koreans, Russians are able to learn for themselves rather than rely on rote memorization of stock phrases. They are also a lot more engaging than Koreans, particularly the teenagers and adults, and they are always willing to launch into a conversation (particularly if it involves making fun of their tired teacher).

Lesson planning for a Friday evening takes more than an hour, and very shortly I'm going to have a shower, get dressed, walk the 20-minutes to the school, pull out my little notebook and begin planning. Perhaps today will involve a lot grammar practise!

1 comment:

  1. Hey there - I've been reading through your Russian ESL teaching adventures... You're right. There is definitely an element of edutainment going on in the classrooms - especially overseas (not as much in-country) because your job depends on how well you can sell your product. After 7 hours of straight teaching, I know I'd be drained.

    It sounds like you're having a blast, though. I'll keep reading... As for the dating-the-teacher thing, that can backfire so be careful - but you probably know that by now.

    You can't find my journal because I haven't opened it up to the public yet. I may... but the world of ESL teaching in London, Ontario is far from exciting!

    - Jen (sandyhoney)