At least, I am trying to be one.
I heard that I was lost,that I went to business school for nothing before, that I wasted my time, that it was crazy to go back to college at twenty seven. On the contrary,that’s why I will be a good teacher.
I fell in love with the English language against all odds when I was just a kid (I wanted to attend Yale University when I was 8 because I had read somewhere that they had the most terrific history department in this hemisphere, and back then I wanted to be a history teacher). I taught myself English, two or three hours a day at least, alone in my bedroom, using only books and DVDs (no wonder I can have such a legal jargon, I created my own course using Ally McBeal‘s first three seasons when I was 16).
I loved it. I loved every minute of it. It was not the idea of speaking another language that drove me, but the idea of all the possibilities that I could reach. Teaching a language is not only about teaching grammar, or phonology, or irregular verbs. These are parts of English teaching of course, but teaching a language, any language means teaching a way of life, a way of thinking, another culture, another history. None of my middle school teachers lived in an English spoken country and the courses were dull. There was no life whatsoever. All they knew, they had read it. They never used authentic materials, they used a shitty textbooks which were edited in France, by French people, for French people.
I read a lot, obviously, but I also experiment. How are you suppose teach teenagers or young adults if you don’t know what’s out there? If you don’t know how the job market will be? I watch foreign channels, I read numerous newspaper: we have this tremendous luck to live with Internet. A click, and everything you want to know is appearing on the screen in front of you. As teachers, we must use that luck to create possibilities.
I already teach to be honest: I teach to a seventeen years old girl. At the beginning of the year, she told me that she didn’t like grammar. I didn’t like grammar either when I was her age: I liked watching Buffy. But thanks to that show, I know how to use modals because they were using it every five minutes. That’s the kind of technique I used with her: I used another show, obviously, but even if her accent is not on point, she is not afraid to talk anymore, because she is not afraid of making mistakes. And that means that my main job with her is done.
Every student is different, nobody is learning the same way. Thinking otherwise would be crazy, literally. I have been a student, I know how that works, it’s not esoteric. To be a teacher, you must be yourself a learner.