Being a Language Instructor: The Good, The Bad & The Frustrating

Being a Language Instructor: The Good, The Bad & The Frustrating



I work online from home. Being a TEFL teacher means that I meet people from all over the world. I learn about their countries and cultures. I find out what it’s really like to be from those places. I learn about their work and what it entails. I get a whole new perspective on things I may have misunderstood, or get confirmation of what I’ve heard or read elsewhere. The people I work with are very cool. They’re appreciative of the help I provide. And at least 90% of them are introverts like me. 

My job is to meet them and put them at ease. Most people find speaking a foreign language terrifying. Introverts often find a conversation in ANY language terrifying. So I have to create a safe, comfortable environment for them so that they can start speaking without blanking out or having a panic attack. Truly. Some of my students are genuinely terrified when they come to me for the first time and I sincerely feel for them.

I don’t find this difficult to handle at all. I am one of them in nearly every way, except that I’ve gone through the process so many times that I know exactly how they feel and know what they need to hear and how they need to be treated so they can make progress. I’ve developed a well-organized system to make them feel informed and safe from the very beginning. I give them tools to take control of their own progress when they don’t work with me live. I’ve done a lot of work to improve my system so that they benefit as much as possible from my lessons. 

So here it is. My perceived obstacle. I give a LOT of energy to my students. One student called me a mind reader. I have to listen very carefully to what they say and how they say it, understand what they’re trying to say, and then transform it into clear, correct, natural English that they can use in the future. Some students of mine are quite advanced and it isn’t such a challenge to do this. (They do like to throw some tough word usage questions at me but I love to answer those.) However, most are at advanced beginner and low intermediate levels. And don’t forget: terrified. The energy I expend doing my job can be surprising. 

So my energy to write anything or tackle my own language goals takes a dive by the end of the day. On the weekends, I like to spend time with my husband and our friends. So my weekends are hard to use productively if I wear myself out physically. The key here definitely has to be how I schedule things. Using my weekend down time wisely will have to be my focus. I’m sure once I do this, everything else will fall into place. The languages, the writing, and reading what’s important to me will have their time and place. And then the restlessness that comes with this season will turn to sanity. 

I should probably go into my language interests. That’ll be my next post. 

Digital nomad, introvert, author, certified English as a Foreign Language teacher, and lover of languages, plants, books, travel, culture, and most smoked food products...not in any particular order.

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