I think that all children think about becoming a teacher at one point. Often they think about how cool of a teacher they would be and how much better they would teach their students than their current educators, others have a heart of pure love and nurturing and helping a child cut out a Valentine’s heart for his Mom or friend is a dream come true.
I was the first. I thought I would be fun, radical, a bit blunt, honest, and keep my classroom as far from the staunch and normal learning styles as possible while still being effective. Sometimes I am a bit dry but I think that overall I have managed to set out to do what I wanted.
When teaching a language you need to show that it is more than a set of grammatical structures and a memorization of vocabulary lists. The pinnacle of achievement is not a gap-filling grammar exercise. Each language is alive, changing, and used for a million things. We use it for formal situations like school and business transactions; we also use it for buying food in a market, and of course is seducing our lovers and entertaining our friends. So why is it that educators often strip bare the fun and interesting language we use with those most intimate to us and that we spend the most time with. Maybe because it isn’t appropriate in the uppity world of academia, or that the old prudes who designed the system are uncomfortable using it.
Regardless, I am keeping it real. I want my students to be able to do their business and then play hard after. This is life. Growing up in an English society we have plenty of opportunity to hear all the language we will ever need, but when your only access is through books and evening classes you are not so privileged.
In return my classes have been great- they have shed their hard Russian shells, had great laughs, played silly games where they were bartering in a faux market for wives, human hair, and gunpowder. You know your job is done when you hear:
‘Who needs a wife? She is the best quality from Russia, blonde and very tall, she will make all your dreams come true.’
‘I already have two wives, but I do need some barbed wire.’
While from the far side of your classroom another pair of students is haggling over the quality of their shoes.
In the end I feel that effective language teaching is being able to make it fun and relevant to the student’s needs and interests and to have them learn things in your class that they can use when they go online, to their job, or to and English country, and I am very thankful to work somewhere I can make this happen.