I am often asked by my students why I want to work as an English teacher. The truth is, I like that my job is mostly talking to interesting young people every day. My students learn from me, but I learn from them as well.
Of course, I have learned some rude Japanese words which I should not repeat. I have learned the Japanese names for various Pokemon, which musicians are cool and which festivals and public holidays are the most fun. I’ve learned some of the pranks to watch out for, and how to tell fake tears from real ones.
I have learned some more important lessons as well.
From my older students, I have learned the real meaning of hard work. When I was at school in the UK, I thought I had a hard time. I had to go to school five days a week! I had to be at school from 9 until 3:30. Sometimes I had a whole hour of homework to do before I could read comicbooks, play videogames and make silly videos with my friends.
Whenever I have done the math with one of my student’s, it always reveals that in one year they do two times as much studying as me. Between longer hours, shorter vacations and mountains of homework, it seems that my students are always studying!
Despite that, most of them are always smiling. They happily tell me about their weeks, they enthusiastically explain their dreams and goals, and they work very hard indeed all on their own.
From my younger students, I have learned to take joy in the simple things. They listen wide-eyed and excited as I talk to them in English about things I did not realize were exciting – my flight to Japan, playing Rugby at school, regularly seeing squirrels. It can make a child’s day to be allowed to carry the tin out of the room after snack time, or for me to take a moment to draw a character in the corner of their page after they do a good job.
One thing which I always like to hear is their excitement about the idea of doing very normal jobs one day in the future. If they are so thrilled at the idea of driving a train or selling flowers, I should definitely be happy that it’s my job to hear about it.