Teaching In Chicago And Japan: A Profile Of Mary

2000rtacity_map.jpgI’m happy to report that Mary, a frequent commenter on the TEFL Logue, took the time to write up a profile of her teaching life. Read on to find out how she got her start and what experience she gained teaching both ESL and literacy in Chicago as well as working for seven months in Japan.

“At age 43, I decided to change careers based on a nine-month ESL class I was given as a volunteer. After two years and lots of sweat, tears and family support, I graduated with an MA in Linguistics, minor in ESL.

For the next nine years, I taught in Chicago and its suburbs, all levels (beginning to pre-college), adults only, ESL and literacy, a total of 30 hours per week (30 hours preparation). I was in class, on the way to class, coming home from class, preparing for class – I was happy,
alive, humbled, grateful.

I taught in Japan at three schools for seven months – kindergarten to pre-high school. Two evenings a week, I taught adults – one class was community sponsored, the second class was comprised of business people wanting to improve their English – just because. This second adult class was on Saturday evenings after six days of working 10-hour days – what motivation!

I had small groups, large classes (25 students), one-on-one and private lessons.

I also taught in workplace environments where students were expected to learn or improve their English. These were the hardest because classes were either before or after a shift. Many students were not motivated. The company had made the decision for them. Learning needs to come from within.

In several of my ESL classes, I worked with volunteers, made sure they were challenged. Some were sooo good, they had their own small groups. We’d discuss their lessons – some prepared their own – others were more comfortable following a lesson plan.

My youngest student in the adult ESL program was 17; the oldest, 91! Really!”

Read Part 2 to see what techniques Mary used and a couple of challenging experiences that stick out in her mind.