I love being an English teacher.
For those readers who may not know, I actually do something other than ramble on about things that annoy me and scribble out books and poetry. In fact, my principal activity is as an English teacher. Not your Shakespeare and Keats English Lit teacher, but an English teacher of ESOL. That translates to English as a Second Operating Language.
Now I could tell you about the very funny things I have heard such as when I greeted a new student. ‘Good morning, it’s a nice day, isn’t it?’ He replied, ‘Yes, it’s a cabbage.’ Or, ‘Hello, what’s your name?’ The response had me wondering. ‘Yes!’
However, while teaching beginners was great fun many years ago, is not what I do now. My time is taken with helping people succeed in passing Cambridge English Certificate examinations so they can progress in their career. Here in Switzerland English is an absolute necessity in gaining promotion or transfers. Particularly in banking. There is enormous pressure on young professionals to master at least two languages other than their Mother tongue, which means they spend a very long time studying.
Now it may come as a surprise, but I have felt for a long while now that although my job is to teach English, my students are really my conduit to learning more about the English language for myself. The reason is that they analyse as they learn and ask questions that require me to think about how English works. So why is the ‘W’ in while pronounced but not in whole? Good question. Or, why can one say, ‘Turn it on but can’t say dine it out? And why do we say a bird’s wing but a chair leg?’
Many of my grammar-related posts on The Vandal have been born from a question by one of my students, so now you know my secret. They are also responsible for me continually thinking about the English language and being constantly amazed at how wonderful it is. Even though it has its complexities and irregularities, English is a language that is continually growing and reinventing itself. It’s my workplace for sure, but also my playground. That’s why I absolutely adore being an English teacher.