Students come in all shapes, colors and temperaments, like…many things, I suppose. I like most students I work with, some, of course, more than others. Even beyond that though, there are some I think of as Super Students. These are the ones whose presence livens up the atmosphere; the ones who, when you work one to one with them, improve your mood.. Two of my favorites:
He had studied a foreign language – not English – abroad, and had a marvelous story in which he and some friends had started throwing small stones at a herd of baboons…only to be met with the baboons throwing back! I once had a discussion with him on a break about the origin of the word “okay”. He also came up with this: “We can’t use present perfect with an exact time…but we use it with “just” – isn’t that an exact time?” When I said it was a good question which I couldn’t really answer (and don’t tell me otherwise – “just” means “a moment ago” – inconsistency in action!), he said, “Well, that’s English.” (ie not Katie’s inability to give us an answer). He thought about language and took an interest in the “why” but still kept it in perspective.
Her official level was elementary, but she had a much larger passive vocabulary. Prior to giving her this BNE article on Prince William, I asked her what she knew about the break up. “Last time we talked, he doesn’t tell me,” she joked. She got frustrated when she made simple mistakes, which, while I tried to reduce her stress over this, I could sympathize with. We had great conversations about topics that had been on Oprah and other fairly random themes to break up the somewhat monotonous Elementary book exercises. While I know she didn’t progress as fast as she wanted to, she really did come to all the lessons and genuinely made an effort; she was willing to follow what I planned fairly enthusiastically – most students comply, but not everyone really gives it 100%.
It’s hard to put into words exactly what makes these students so great, but they tend to be easily recognizable. Stay tuned for the TEFL Logue’s Top 10 Odd Moments and find out about one Super Student who I refused to let leave my class.