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Commercial Education Society of Australia

Why I Like Teaching English
Alison O

I HAVE been teaching English language skills for more than 10 years. I have taught in a variety of environments from private language schools to public vocational and higher education institutions as well as church groups and on Skype. I have also taught general English language, beginner skills, academic English and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) exam preparation, Business English and pre-university English. I also include specific language programs for exchange students and study tour students.

I like teaching English because of the range of nationalities, the personalities, the cultures and the fun that you have in each lesson. Teaching English includes speaking, listening, reading and writing. The formation of English skills is often so different from that of the student’s native language, especially Asian languages. So many things are included in these skills — customs, culturally acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, the acuity of hearing, being completely literate in their own language, reading materials that don't often have much connection with their own life or background, and especially writing in English. For example, just applying for accommodation in Sydney means the student has to understand the ‘language’ used and the abbreviations in the advertisements.

The formation of English skills is often so different from that of the student’s native language, especially Asian languages.

Grammar, spelling, intonation are a few of the problems the international student encounters. However, one of the biggest problems for all students are articles, ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’. Native English language speakers take these for granted, but don’t ask the general public what they are or why we use them. They will tell you that they just do. In many languages these just do not exist. The same goes for teaching reading which includes comprehension. It is not enough to be able to translate the words into the student’s own language for ease of reading. It is more important that they can comprehend what the article says.

Classes have a range of nationalities in them, so it is good to be able to ‘pair’ different nationalities. Often this takes some students a lot of getting used to, but it is a good way to blend the class. I always take the view that everyone in my class is a ‘student’, there to learn. They are not Chinese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Indian, Mongolian or . . . they are English language students experiencing life in Australia, generally for the first time.

While we teach international students about Easter, Christmas, Australia Day, the Melbourne Cup, ANZAC Day, Boxing Day, we also learn so much about their own special days. These include Ramadan, Coming of Age Day, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Buddah’s birthday, Mid-autumn Festival, Songkran, Chulalongkorn Day, Hari Raya Haji and many more. These provide a wonderful theme for students improving all their skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. It also widens their general knowledge and provides an understanding of other cultures.

Australian colloquialisms provide some very funny outcomes. In fact, we exchange colloquialisms, and each country is unique in their meaning. This is because most of the colloquialisms are related to the formality of the language, the customs and, often, the area from which they came. Aussie rules (AFL rules), barbie (barbecue), chook (chicken), flat chat (busy), crook with a wog (sick), sucked in (taken advantage of) and many more . . . So, you can see, why I love teaching English language. It is never dull. You never quite know what turn the class will take. I try to create an environment where all students can feel free to participate, to ask questions, to compare the structure with their own language, to practice comprehension. I simply enjoy my job and learn something new every day.

ESL Teacher
November 2013

© Copyright CESA November 2013