A Coach, Not a Teacher

Hi, just a quick report about my new private class. My two students talked for about a third of the class time (pretty useless for language acquisition but good for confidence-building); and for the rest of it I was providing as much comprehensible input as I could (in particular, doing focused reading; I will explain this technique in one of the later posts).

At the start of the class I asked them to share the biggest passions they have in life, something that makes them feel alive, the kinds of things they derive the most pleasure from. I probed a little deeper than just “reading” and “traveling” and “shopping”, I hope this will help me connect with them on a more meaningful level and better understand how I can provide material that’s as relevant as you can get with a private teacher. I plan to encourage them to read extensively about these topics in English  and talk about what they read in class.

I will also ask them to find articles or blog posts look fascinating but are hard to understand and bring them to class, where I can read them and elicit difficult vocab and structures. We won’t do grammar analysis, of course, since it’s generally a waste of time. Instead, grammar will be absorbed from the context.

Another thing I will ask them to do will be to write down their weekly goals on a pretty postcard and put it up somewhere where it will be easy for them to see every day. I’ll add an inspiring inscription at the bottom. Or draw the teacher’s all-seeing eye or something like that as a tiny motivational nudge for them. The goals will be something like “Read for four hours and listen for three hours each week and watch one movie each week. Only exciting and authentic materials.” I hope to ramp up their exposure to natural, real-life English dramatically while keeping their engagement at the highest possible levels.

My goal is to turn them into independent learners in two months so hopefully by late July they won’t need me anymore. That’s why I don’t really teach in class. My role is more of a coach, a mentor, a facilitator, an entertainer – anything but a typical teacher.

So far I’m enjoying my classes much more than I did last year. Yes, there’s still plenty of room for improvement but as long as teaching doesn’t feel like a dead-end job, I’m up for it.




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