Monday mornings are always a bit of a jolt back to reality. Luckily, my first class of the week is always pleasant. I’ve been teaching mini-classes for awhile now and I find myself looking forward to meeting up with Crystal and Albert every Monday morning.
Albert and Crystal are both music students and have been dating for two years. I’ve been helping them improve their English for several months. They are both so eager to learn and are so incredibly kind that it’s hard not to want to spend more time with them. I enjoy my time with them so much, that I often feel guilty for being paid.
Crystal went to Japan ten days ago and when she returned I asked her to bring her pictures to class. I’ve been racking my brain to figure out how to get Crystal to talk. She’s very shy and has no confidence in her English speaking ability. She relies heavily on Albert and I for translation.
Well, they showed up today with their laptop computer and that was it. We never even got around to having class. We looked at pictures for almost two hours and I watched Crystal blossom before my eyes! She jabbered on in English for half an hour, with Albert throwing things in for good measure. I don’t think she realised how much she was speaking. Albert and I just sat and listened. It was great! About forty-five minutes into class, she stopped abruptly and asked if I was bored. I told her that the whole point of English class is for them to speak English.
Although I had planned a lesson, I felt this was far too valuable to give up, so I asked them to decide what they wanted to do for the remainder of class. They chose to continue with the pictures. I couldn’t have been more pleased. With nothing on my schedule until 3pm, I decided not to end class on time and they were more than happy to stay and chat with me about their plans for Chinese New Year. I felt a little guilty accepting payment this time, especially after she’d brought me some souvenirs from Japan. They also gave me two VIP tickets to Ministry of Sound for next weekend. Sweet!
Before leaving, they asked John and I to join their families for dinner over the holidays. We have made plans to meet up with them for a traditional meal when we return from our motorcycle trip.
Show and tell classes have always proved invaluable to me, both as a teacher and as a student. While I was learning Chinese, I often did this myself. I remember the patience and interest that my Chinese tutor showed when I brought in things to show her. The act of speaking about something that is both interesting and familiar to a student might not necessarily focus on a lot of new vocabulary and teaching material, but it’s a great lesson for teaching self-confidence and for drawing on what you have already learned. I must remember to hold classes like this more often and encourage them both to draw on their own life experiences. Today’s class was, by far, the most rewarding and satisfying lesson to date – for both students and teacher.