Three experiences in the past week that reminded me about why teaching ESL is such an entertaining job.
First experience: After class, I was reading a passage in which one of my Vietnamese students had written. She was describing a time when she had a close call while driving. “Suddenly, a car which was coming toward me crossed over into my lane. It scared the hell out of me!”
Second experience: A few weeks into the term, one of my more out-going Indonesian students entered the room and said, “Wassup!”
Third experience: I was handing back some homework to my students before class started. As I gave one of my Taiwan female students her paper in which there were some mistakes marked, she looked at it and said, “What the fu!” Then she smiled and asked me, “Is it OK if I say that to a teacher?” I asked her if she knew what that meant, and she said she didn’t, but she had heard someone say it in a movie and thought it would be fun to try out.
To many people in the outside world, our job for teaching ESL looks like a lot of fun. People have told me, “It must be so interesting working with students from different countries and cultures every day.” And most of us would agree. But what they are imagining is only a tiny part of what makes this such a great job. We can never predict what our students will come up with next as they learn and try out the language.