Thoughts on Teaching English as a Second Language

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching English as a Second language part- and full-time for the past 8 years to business people, college students, and adult immigrants. I’ve taught both online and at traditional schools. Teaching provides excellent lessons about professionalism, sales, and brand management.

Teaching forces you to face problems head on. When you have a problem with a student, you don’t have the option of closing your door. You need to manage that student as you manage your class. You also learn how to smile at your students after arguments with management or other non-classroom issues.

Visibility is another issue. When you are absent, your absence is noted. No “mental health” days, no playing hooky, no early start to the weekend. You can get a substitute, but if this happens too often, the substitute becomes the permanent teacher. This is a good thing; it just takes time to realize that when you teach, you are always in the spotlight.

Teaching is great preparation for sales and vice versa. Certainly you become accustomed to speaking in public and improvising when necessary. However, every time you step into a classroom, you are selling both yourself and the subject that you teach. It is selling in the “pay-as-you-go” format. You can be good one today, but if tomorrow’s class is not seen as good by a student, management will hear about it. Students, like everyone else, love to complain.

You learn how to adjust your selling/teaching approach to fit the needs of your customers/students. You also learn that you will not make every sale. Some students, no matter what you do, will fail and some will drop out. I never like to see anyone fail (I don’t fail them, they fail themselves) and I hate to see students, especially immigrants, quit trying to learn English, but that is part of life. You learn and accept this.

Branding is an important aspect of teaching and for your professional identity. Your personality is part of this (are you the strict teacher? funny teacher? etc.) and it also includes your teaching methods.

All three qualities, professionalism, sales, and branding are important. If you are not professional and accountable, you will have problems being a good teacher or being good at anything. As a teacher, you need to be able to sell yourself and your abilities; you are on display every day. Branding defines your professional image. People place trust in the product brands that they buy. The same is true for teachers. Your students won’t learn if they don’t trust you.

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About acohen843

I am a writer and ESL teacher who enjoys the challenge of starting businesses. Currently, I am a JuicePlus distributor (www.acohentakesjuiceplus.com) who is using this business opportunity as the foundation of a social entrepreneurship project.
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