I was on my way to teach a class of 5 young English students when I had something of a crisis of confidence. It seemed like my students weren’t progressing in their ability to communicate. As a private English teacher, the responsibility for my student’s progress falls squarely on my shoulders. I’ve only been teaching here for a little under two months now and, although it isn’t a new experience for me, having taught here previously, there are certain recurrent challenges.
When they just aren’t getting it…
I came to Japan to teach English, not to collect pay cheques (although that`s fun too). Any teacher will tell you how rewarding it is to have your students work their way up from basic English to advanced skills, or helping young learners speak their first few words of English. There are times, though, when you think that your students are not getting it. What can you do? It`s always worthwhile to evaluate your own teaching methods and course material to ensure that your skills are up to date and effective. You could consider taking a TEFL refresher course, or a more advanced certificate such as DELTA or an MA in TESOL.
Before taking such action, though, you might want to consider the idea that your students are perhaps just assimilating the knowledge they have learnt and deepening that knowledge. The surface might not show too much improvement, but as long as your lessons are progressive then your students will be learning. Perhaps you just need to take the time to review what your students have been learning in the class. Give them a catch-up lesson.
The challenge dissipates
So, what happened after my crisis of confidence? The lesson I had prepared included some reading practice. Each student in turn read their piece so fluently that I had to applaud them… Maybe they are progressing after all!