Sometimes You Feel Like A “Hostess”, Sometimes You Don’t

img_geisha1.jpgMany people think – generally mistakenly – that native speaker EFL teachers just go into classrooms and talk. I generally prefer not to do this; I think students get a lot more out of lessons that are planned and have specific yet still attainable goals, which often include but are not limited to speaking.

However, some students want just that. Themselves, the teacher, and conversation. For three hours a week. About movies and the universe. Like my new student.

I’ll rewind. I learned of this new student a couple of weeks before I started teaching him, and then met with his current teacher a few days before our first lesson. That was when I learned that he sometimes carried a gun to class. But, I learned, it is allowed for entrepreneurs here to get a licence to carry a gun. Anyways, so far, it had always been in its holster during class time. He’d invited the current teacher to the shooting range once.

The main advice was: let him talk; that’s pretty much all he wants to do. He’s advanced. He doesn’t want to read or write or be corrected. Don’t prepare anything. Don’t go into the first lesson asking him about “the universe” but know that that is what he’s interested in, in addition to movies of course. And finally, don’t be offended if he talks over you – you might even want to ask him “Are you done?” before you start speaking.

I’ve now had a few lessons with this man, and he’s okay. I’m not intimidated, but then again I rarely am. I’m impressed that I’m getting paid to sit there and basically nod and ask a few questions…but even at this point, there are moments when it seems (warning: comical analogy ahead) I’m on a bad date with a self-involved guy, except unlike a bad date, I can’t just excuse myself to powder my nose and sneak out the bathroom window.*

*Note to my readers: of course I don’t date my students! I’m using this analogy to highlight the oddness of this situation.