What gives me job satisfaction in teaching English? What gives you job satisfaction? That’s a question I sometimes ask when teaching here at Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara. Very often, I get the answer “money.” Monetary reward is certainly satisfying, but I’m talking about “what makes you feel good about your job?”
Together, we brainstorm a list of possibilities- people, location, promotional opportunities, paid vacation, benefits, perks, job security, traveling, finishing a project, doing presentations, training employees, working outdoors, helping people, etc. To my surprise, many students don’t think much about it. But the satisfying part about this conversational lesson is that most wake up to what they appreciate about their jobs, and talk about it. I almost always share what gives me satisfaction in my job so that they completely understand my question. Quite a few things actually, but this is the one that stands out and never lets me down- teaching (coaching) beginners.
The First English Lesson in Sagamihara
They usually walk into their first lesson feeling nervous. For many of them it is their first time to speak English with a native speaker. Mark Smith gives a good description here about his experience with his first lesson in Japanese, which is very similar. https://sse-franchise.com/english-conversation-enriches-life/ I always select a lesson topic or function that will be easy, sometimes too easy for them. This is good for both of us, as it gives me an easy way to assess their true level and ability, and it eases them into the English language slowly and comfortably.
After a few minutes, I begin to see them relax a little as they realize that they can keep up with me. If I have to repeat something 10 times, it is no problem for me. That’s what I’m here for- assess, adjust, present, practice, and finally use whatever language point I’m teaching.
Subtle smiles begin, nervous laughter turns into genuine laughter, I see their confidence building, and before you know it, the lesson is over. Students often comment “hayai”, meaning “time flew by fast.” Some of my last words to them are always “YOU can speak English!” (Because they can!). Many of them politely deny it, but I know now (that they know) that they are fully capable. They walk out of the classroom feeling relieved, more confident, and better about themselves.
From Nothing to Something at Smith’s
So here it is- Introducing, practicing some easy language with beginners, and applying that language in real conversation with them. Watching them relax a bit as their confidence grows, all within 45 minutes. I love teaching their first lessons and taking them from “nothing” to “something” in such a short period of time. It’s a good feeling. So don’t be shy; give it a try! Thank you for reading!