ESL teaching experience, day one

Hold on

Hold on

I took a deep breath and wiped my sweaty hands across my jeans. Smiling bravely at the 12 faces before me, I thought, “Can I pull this off?”

For all of my life, I have walked into the classroom as a student. I’d stroll into class, plop into my seat, and wonder how my teacher would fill the hour. Tucked safely behind my desk, I’d let the teacher do all the talking. That’s the vantage point I’ve always known.

Last Monday, however, I moved from behind a desk to the front of the classroom. It was my first day as an English teacher at the Nan-Jeon Institute of Technology in Taiwan. When I accepted the position earlier this year, I thought it was just the adventure I needed. I dove into a new culture, job and language, excited and nervous for the massive change. Teaching a language I have spoken since birth seemed like an easy feat. But, while preparing for my first class, I wondered if I knew what I was doing.

As I created my lesson plan days in advance, I thought, “How can I possibly entertain these people for two hours?” As a student, I enjoy a passionate, lively teacher; therefore, I assumed my students would want the same of me. With this in mind, I scoured the Internet for ESL (English as a Second Language) activities and games. While brainstorming ideas, I felt renewed respect for the creativity of past teachers.

But, ideas on paper are nothing without delivery. To be honest, I’ve never been one for public speaking. I was always the shy student who cursed my teachers when they singled me out in class. Normally, I’d rather submit to Chinese water torture than speak in front of a crowd. Because of this inherent hatred, I was surprised to find I had no problem speaking with my students. In fact, getting them to speak up was the challenge. Once I realized my students were more nervous than me, I accepted my role with ease.

My Monday class consists of 10 Taiwanese and two French students, which made for quite the intercultural atmosphere. We introduced ourselves, talked about our cultures and played games. Though communication was a challenge, we had fun. It was a learning experience for us all.

We made mistakes, and we laughed. I pulled it off.