First Day Nerves

I remember the first few minutes of my first job pretty well. The rest of the lesson? Not at all. Which is a good thing! I don’t remember it because nothing very drastic happened. It was an English lesson. Much like any of the hundreds of lessons I’ve given since. No disasters. No confusion. Just an ordinary English lesson.
My first students were two legal eagles working for an American bank, a division of a famous US car maker. There was I worrying about what would happen, would I have a classroom, would they be friendly, would they understand me, would they let me have a cigarette…..

Every business English class is different. Sometimes you have something to play your cassette tapes with, sometimes you have a whiteboard, and sometimes you just have a couple of chairs. You always have students, and you quickly learn to make the most of what you’ve got!

I did have a nice conference room anyway, with whiteboard et al, and they both smoked like troopers, just like me. First thing we did probably…. a perfect start!

Anyway, despite any apprehensions you might have, the first lesson of a new job is always the easiest lesson you will ever have. You won’t even need to open the book for the first half hour at least. It’s all about saying hello, getting acquainted, a little conversation to let you both know where you stand regarding the ease (or not) of communication. And then you will explain what you are going to do. Here is the book. Here is what it covers, and how it works….

Before you know it you’ve only got 20 mins of the 90 minute class left. Just long enough for another coffee and a start on the first reading passage!

Depending upon the level of your student, conversation may well make up the bulk of your lessons. If they are low level students (or just plain boring!) then you will spend more time using the book, as a lengthy conversation might prove difficult and tedious. An intermediate or advanced student however should be reasonably capable of maintaining a decent conversation. So chat you do! Sometimes I feel it is cheating, and I should be doing the book, but to be honest there is great value in conversational classes. Some students may insist that that is all they want.

I still have the class at the US bank, near Perisur – a nice area in the south of the city, and much of the last year has been taken up with conversation. And they have very noticeably improved. No more do I have to deliberately speak slowly. Natural conversations all the way, so it must work! The proof is in the pudding they say, and my class can only be described as an extra rich chocolate gateau!


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