Interview With Jessie, An Italian Language Teacher

italy_map1.jpgOnce you admit that you teach EFL, it’s amazing how other teachers come out of the woodwork. It came to my attention that Jessie, the Community Manager (just scroll down for a second) at, is a fellow language teacher and I thought why not borrow some of her insight and wisdom to share with TEFL Logue readers.

Jessie teaches Level 1 Italian at a local community college as a non-credit class, mainly to adult students who plan to travel to Italy and want to be able to communicate at a basic level – and she aims to give them the tools to be independent speakers, and not just teach them phrases (which, she points out, they could just as easily learn from a phrasebook and a cassette). While she’s not an English teacher and doesn’t work abroad, many of the experiences and insights Jessie shared in an email interview are relevant to EFL teachers abroad and people interested in teaching non-credit ESL – or other language -classes at home. Here is Jessie on a number of topics:

Jessie on preparing to teach: After studying French in the evenings for a few years, Jessie switched to Italian in 2001, and started teaching it later upon the recommendation of one of her teachers. It took her a while to be sure she felt ready, but she embarked on this part-time career path in 2006 and hasn’t looked back since. Despite the fact that preparation was at first “a bajillion times more difficult and time-consuming” than she anticipated, she loves teaching and has also found that as she teaches the same class over, prep time naturally decreases.

Jessie on having adult students: she acknowledges that having a day job definitely poses a challenge to adults who attend a night class. While adults may be more vocal about their learning styles, and what works for them and not, they often don’t do homework. She still gives homework though, in order to give those who do want it more practice, and checks it; it’s okay for people to do it on the spot (and quite kindly she also helps them if necessary), but she does check it. And on a specific category of adult language course students: somehow, she frequently ends up with a former teacher of some subject in a class, which puts her just a tad on edge because she knows they’ve had training in methodology and she hasn’t. But so far the teachers she’s taught have been helpful more than anything else, probably because they can relate to being “on stage.”

Read Interview With Jessie, An Italian Language Teacher: Part 2 to get Jessie’s thoughts on the highs and lows, one cool communicative activity and advice for new teachers.