Upon my acceptance as an instructor for a certain Asian nation, my interest in the English language both as a teacher and a learner had germinated. It also helped me in gaining fortitude not to mention the discipline to get up early and show up for work regularly, in spite of my being a lifelong night owl.
Although not a remarkable English student in school, I was a heavy short-novel reader in my juvenile and early adult years. But never had I bothered with familiarization of standard grammatical terms. Having no previous training in teaching and purely armed with average English fluency, I started polishing my skills.
Below were my exact sentiments before I began my preparations as an ESL instructor:
Gerund, Infinitives, Participial phrase– What are they?
Present Perfect tense – Excuse me?
Past Perfect – Oh no no.
Future Perfect Progressive – Now I’m gonna go insane.
As I make headway at my profession, my initial question to every new student on the first day of class would be “Do you like reading?” If the answer was yes, I’d presume there would be not much of a problem. If the answer was no, well…
I pushed more for the comprehension of the reading materials and didn’t impose memorization of vocabulary. Homework was something I expected to be done. By that, I gained the reputation inside the academy (among students) of being strict, quite competent 😉 , smart, “kind but hard.”
The small number of industrious and attentive students sparked my diligence as a teacher thereby inspiring me to toil harder for the refinement of their English proficiency. With the right students, my occupation could provide worth and gratification. With the the lazy ones, it was a mere waste of time. In most cases, I had to endure (the torment of) “free talking” especially during man-to-man sessions even though I had little concern for their mundane lives and no enthusiasm to get chummy with them.
Money became secondary motivation what with the minimum pay I received throughout the years with zero job perks to boot.
On the whole, I’ll be honest in saying that I secretly don’t hold those kind of people in good regard. Why? They come from a nation where it’s perfectly normal to eat dogs; they look down on us Filipinos for belonging to a poorer country; and a big majority of the attendees in our academy for so long had been indolent, insolent, bratty, and cold. But I’ll be honest as well here in saying I stayed because I needed the job despite such assertions of disgruntlement.
I was determined to make it my finishing role as an employee. Procuring employment after the age of 35 is nearly impossible in our state, except for high-level positions. My teaching job stretched to a decade, and the end was due to incremental changes in the academy and the numerous inconveniences they brought. It was ten long years of my precious life, nevertheless.