January 27, 2004 – Interesting students

(Original post) At work I taught a kid that was really good today! Why can`t all kids be like that? I also taught a member of the Japanese Self Defence force and a woman who designs diamond tools for cutting silicon.

(2014 Update) The location of a NOVA branch will go a long way in determining what kinds of students will show up. Kawasaki City is a largely industrial city full of factories and heavy industry. The majority of students in the evenings and on weekends are all engineers. I have nothing against engineers, but it is nice to have a little more variety in the classroom. Three electrical engineers and one computer engineer who all work and live in Kawasaki is not variety.

Variety of students in the classroom, whether it be people with different jobs, people from different generations, people with interesting hobbies, or the always rare non-Japanese student, keeps things interesting for the teachers. English teachers are responsible for teaching as good a lesson as possible, regardless of who shows up to class. However, it is much easier to stay engaged and excited as a teacher when you aren’t teaching the same lesson to the same types of students all the time.

Variety in the classroom is also good for the students. Not only does it give students a chance to interact with people they might not normally talk to, it also allows for a wider range of vocabulary. As an example, imagine the discussion about weekend plans in a classrom with 4 salarymen as compared to a classroom with an engineer, a retired senior, a university student, and a stay at home housewife with 3 kids.

In my 3 years of teaching in Japan I got to teach a great assortment of different people with different jobs. My highlights include a Buddhist Monk, members of the Japanese Self Defence Force, a game designer, a few doctors, a hostesse, a miniture dollhouse designer, a very opinionated retired ballerina, and an awesome construction worker from Peru who was studying English as a third language.

If you have an English school and have any control over scheduling of your lessons, do your students and teachers a favour and try to get some variety in the classroom. It will benefit everyone.

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