Learning a language is tough. Period. And if English is your first language, count yourself lucky. Because truth be told, English has to be one of the more difficult languages to retain, especially if you had to learn as an adult. I know a thing or two about that (minus the adult part). When my family made the move to Canada, I couldn’t speak a word of English. In fact, I struggled to learn even at the young age of 8. Based on my interview, the school felt I didn’t need an ESL teacher and decided to throw me in the lion’s den, unaided and helpless (or at least that’s how I felt at the time).
My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Eadie, challenged me mentally in more ways than I can describe. She never took it easy on me since I understood nothing of the language. Instead, she thankfully treated me like the rest, and if I didn’t understand, well I’d better read up! I welcomed the challenge, although I was quite frustrated at times. But with the help of both my homeroom teacher and my English teacher, Mrs. Harley, who had me write in a journal every day at the beginning of class, I learned that making mistakes was the only way I was going to learn. I needed to fail a few times before I was able to see the light. Such an invaluable lesson I’d learned: you’re going to fall before you can stand, and that’s OK!
I still have the journal today, and every time I read it, I’m thankful for having had 2 amazing teachers who believed in me and didn’t give up on me when I felt I wanted to do just that.
A teacher can greatly impact a student’s learning. If he or she is motivated to teach, so will students be to learn. Why are you teaching? Why ESL? I personally find it rewarding and humbling when I help others succeed. The truth is, a teacher has the ability to literally change lives, especially an ESL teacher. The key to succeed in this industry is motivation. You have to love what you’re doing and be in it for the right reason: to help those who need to learn do so successfully and give them the freedom – if you will – to live comfortably and be armed with the necessary tools to prosper in a predominantly English speaking society. An ESL teacher isn’t there just to teach English, he or she is there to teach his or her students about life – real experiences. Only then will a teacher truly impact the life of a student.
So, why are YOU teaching? Why are you teaching ESL?