I am an English coach at my little English conversation school in Otsu. I help my small but dedicated group of students to excel in English, with a focus on functional communication. For years I have introduced myself as an English teacher because this is the most common and simplest answer. In reality this is not accurate, for what I do is not primarily teaching, but rather coaching. Allow me to explain.
A student joins my school. She tells me that she loves to travel but she can’t speak English well and would like to improve. She comes to class and I teach her a phrase, for example “Where is the nearest bank machine?” She says that of course she knew this phrase. She knew all the words and she could make this sentence, all before coming to my school. The government had done a great job teaching her the basics of the English language over 6 years of junior and senior high school, years before coming to my English conversation school. She had also studied on her own at home, she was intelligent and keen to learn.
What could I possibly add? What could I do to help her achieve her goals? What she lacked, and what I could offer her, was the opportunity to practice in a supportive environment. I guide her gently along, I give her little nudges forward, I cheer her on. I help her to realize that what she is doing is right, and that she can do it. She can speak English with a native speaker, clearly and confidently. The time she spends with me, face to face, in person, is key to her development. I am her coach. Of course I teach her a few new words or phrases here and there. I also introduce her to native expressions and Canadian culture. Most importantly though, I am always there for her, to answer her questions, to encourage her. Such students often ask, almost out of habit, “あってる？” (Atteru? Was that correct?) 95% of the time my answer is “Yes- perfect!”
I love my job. I love the journey I take with my students from shy and quiet to capable and confident. I love that I am their coach and that we are in a constant game which has no losers, only winners. あってる？ はい！
Edward, Smith’s School of English