Teaching Life – 003
It’s common knowledge that in order for an ESL learner to improve his/her English, it’s a good idea to practice listening to conversations on TV shows, radio, and in movies. You know, scenes from family or office drama talk talk about common daily activities are especially useful.
Last summer, I taught a small group of students who had the habit of watching only Chinese videos or reading Chinese items on their smartphones during breaks. So, in order to encourage them to watch English, I prepared a script and a few clips from a TV drama so that these students would get used to watching English programs. I mean, after all, if they’re watching and reading Chinese things during break time, it’s safe to assume they do the same at home.
I explained the premise of the show, went over some very useful phrasal verbs that are from the show, and proceeded to play it. Next thing you know, one student decided to go on her WeChat (Chinese messenger on phone) and started chatting on there. I stopped the show and politely asked her if she was okay, etc. Instead of responding nicely, she lashed out at how I was wasting everyone’s time because they could watch this at home and they’re not paying to do this in class.
It was very rude of her and also disrespectful. My role as their teacher was to encourage them to improve their English so that they could do well on their tests, and I had seen them only watching things in Chinese and they had struggled with their spoken English and vocabulary. Here I was trying to help them, by teaching English in the classroom through an English TV show, and I was accused of wasting their time.
With that kind of attitude and close-mindedness, it’s no wonder some of them struggle with the language. They don’t try hard enough. They’re stubborn and don’t recognize effective ways of learning even when it’s presented to them. Instead of embracing what we were doing in class, that student lashed out and of course everybody followed.
This was one instance where I felt like teaching was not rewarding – it wasn’t the fact that I didn’t put in any effort. I did, as evidenced by the fact that I had sheets with the useful phrasal verbs that we went over. It’s when people refuse to listen, when they have their own ideas (which don’t work), that frustrates me as a teacher. But, that’s life. Oh well. I can honestly say I tried.