Michèle lives in France where she teaches English to private students. In this article, she describes a typical day in her teaching life.
I am French, living near Paris, and I’ve been teaching children and adults English for a long time (private lessons). I started up as a favour to an acquaintance and through word-to-mouth went from 2 school friends of my daughter’s to 20 students. I got caught by the teaching virus and I’m wondering if I could do anything else now. Most parents have become friends so I can infer that teaching English has enabled me to meet people and enlarge my circle of friends.
I usually get up at 7.00 and start my day with a couple of cups of tea - without tea I’m not myself! I have some toast while I am watching the TV news. My week is quite varied. Every day is different. Today , Tuesday, my first student is Pat. She’s 50 and started learning English 3 years ago. She comes twice a week for a ninety-minute lesson. It is mainly a conversation class using a variety of role plays I’ve adjusted according to the level of my students. We use two worksheets, one for the student and the other for me. The student’s worksheet doesn’t have my script but only his or hers written in French. They have to translate the idea into English (not word for word). Before acting the parts, we write the new words and expressions, review some grammar points involved in the conversation and make a list of words according to the topic.
I know that some teachers disapprove of using L1 but this method has turned out to be quite efficient as far as my students are concerned. In addition, we generally have lots of fun acting people in various situations. I am convinced that making the students laugh is the key to success in learning a foreign language.
My second student today is Françoise. She’s a friend of mine and started learning English two years ago in order to communicate with people around the world when she visits new countries. We generally review tenses and make a list of vocabulary about a chosen topic. I usually use a Cambridge First Certificate book I am familiar with for exercises. Comprehension is her weak point so every other Tuesday she listens to conversations taken from the Cambridge First Certificate Papers and answers my questions. I also use Cambridge Young Learners Papers for my younger students.
My third student today is called Jeremy. He’s 20 and in second year at university. He wants to work in industry so fluent speaking is necessary. Lots of young people in France have realized that learning English can improve their chances of getting a better job.
Jeremy has been learning English with me for two years - his level was so low that we started from “scratch”! So we had to do basic grammar, tenses, lists of vocabulary. He’s made a lot of progress thanks to his efforts and we are going to prepare for the TOEIC test.
It’s 6.00 and I have finished my classes. Now I have time to surf the net and prepare my lessons for Wednesday, which is an exhausting day. Each lesson is personalized to the needs of my students, and texts, comprehension questions, and role plays are chosen according to their interests and language ability.
Tuesday usually goes smoothly and I find these three-hour and a half classes quite relaxing. That’s why I’ve chosen it for Another day in the life of…
My husband gets home at about 8.00 pm - when he isn’t stuck in a tailback on the Francilienne motorway! Then we have dinner and spend the rest of the evening talking and watching TV until 11.00 pm. Lights out at 11.30 if we don’t fall asleep while we are watching a film!