18 January 2013

Diary of an ALT: Private Students

When I arrived here acquiring private students did not exactly feature in my plans for the year. I didn't actually go looking for them, they found me. In the case of my two junior high students I work with their mother and was telling her how I had only taught adults and teenagers in Ireland. "Oh really?" was the reply, "Because I've been looking for a private tutor for my two teenage daughters..." Cue hint filled silence. I agreed to teach them the ways of the force English several times a month.

My third private student is one of my elementary school students. Her mother inquired as to what day I would be teaching at that particular school for the first time and waited by the entrance for me to walk by on the way to the staff room during classes. As I was heading back I heard a "Hello! Over here. I've been waiting for you..." Not quite the words I was expecting to hear from a total stranger lurking outside my place of work. As it turned out she wanted me to tutor her daughter and handed me a list of details about the classes. Thus my trio of private students was completed and my epic tale begun.*

Private students can be so rewarding in a way that other classes aren't. For a start I see them more often than the 45 minutes a month I have with my regular classes. You get to know them, know their strengths and weakness and feel a warm sense of pride when you know you are personally responsible for their improvement. Creating a class for just one or two kids brings with it its own set of difficulties but I've found that you should never underestimate the value of stickers and sweets. They can make the most mediocre games seem magical.

Aside from that smug sense of satisfaction gained when parents of private students tell you all about how much better their child is doing thanks to you is the fact that not only do you get to know the student you get to know the family. I've been given Christmas presents and cards, New Year's presents, toys and invited to lunches on several occasions; something which makes me happier than I can describe (the feeling of inclusion that is not the goodies, I'm not that materialistic). I've gotten to know their parents and siblings and it's a wonderful gooey feeling knowing that not only do they like you as a tutor but *gasp* also as a human.

My smug face. See how photogenic I am?

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I love having private students. They are such fantastic, intelligent, young ladies who all excel at and enjoy English. Getting to know them and their families has been really great and I'm glad they have become part of my adventure in Japan.

*Disclaimer: This tale is not actually epic at all unless of course you are one of those people who is really, really easily impressed.

1 comment

  1. That beautiful and solemn grin of 'the smug face' comes from one's within.


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Maira Gall