Being an English Teacher: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Anna Lahner - Original Siberia - Profesora de inglés en Barcelon

Being an English Teacher: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. We are not omniscient. Anyone who says he knows everything, is either a fool or a d…

  2. We have to keep in mind way too many things, and at times it gets difficult.

  3. Knowing something does not equal being able to transmit it.


I may be new to you and to the whole Oxinity community, but I’m not new to the teaching, I have 6 years of teaching experience, and during this period of time I’ve seen quite a lot of different cases of students and other teachers. I’ve learned from it, and I’ve come to draw several conclusions about this field. Some of them I will share with you here.

I bet many teachers reading this will feel related. As for the students, I hope it will help you to see things from another perspective and may at least be interesting to you.


The Good

There’s a widespread opinion that it’s good for us, teachers, if the student doesn’t progress fast enough, because this is the way to earn more money. WRONG! Seeing your students’ progress is  one of the most satisfying feelings. We are always glad to see you getting better, and if there’s no progress, we often feel like it’s our fault. Seeing the progress is the best part of our job, and guess what? We are constantly learning with you. And we also learn FROM you. This may sound absurd to you, but when you become proficient in something, it gets difficult to see some simple little things, and as we all know, the Devil’s in the details. You, from your perspective, see these things, and you ask us questions… That make us think things over, in a way that we would never do on our own. Because it has become so obvious to us that we don’t give it any importance, and this may do us a disservice. A newbie’s point of view if a way to pay attention to the details we have long forgotten, and we get that point of view from YOU.


The Bad

Like it or not, we are all humans. Any professional is no exception; these are just humans that know their job, those who dedicated enough hours to what they do. But it is impossible to know everything, and I suggest you to run away screaming from pretty much anyone who says that they’re flawless.

As I said before, we’re also learning with you, we’re constantly learning on the go; sometimes we don’t know or just don’t remember something… And some students get it really wrong, expecting us to be perfect, and not willing to understand that perfection doesn’t exist. Some people also don’t really think of that simple fact: it’s difficult to handle so many people at once. You have your only teacher, but your teacher has a lot of students, and it’s really demanding mentally. At times our social skills suffer. We’re also humans, not some sort of Omniscient and Supreme Beings, remember?


My point here is that no matter how hard you try doing your best, in this field you will always have students who will get upset with you. And you won’t really be able to say what went wrong. From the teachers’ point of view I don’t see any solution but just trying to do your best… As for the students: please, keep in mind that we do our best. If there’s something you don’t like, don’t rush with drawing your conclusions. Remember that working with people is not that easy as it may seem, and we have to deal with a lot of people.

Maybe you’ve worked in retail or customer service at some point of your life? Do you remember how it felt?


The Ugly

Remember what I said before, about all that human interaction jazz? Well, just like in pretty much any human interaction, sometimes things get really complicated, and it can really get on one’s nerves.

Sometimes it’s just too much to handle, because, as I said before, this job is very demanding mentally.

And the last, but not the least: there are a lot of wannabes, the ones pretending to be teachers, but actually being really mediocre, to say the least. Or those whose only goal in teaching is petting their own Ego. For the good teachers, they ruin the market and create us a bad reputation. For the students, they do everything to make you lose your money and your faith in your abilities and other teachers.

And there are some people who just don’t get this simple thing: there’s a big difference between knowing something and being able to transmit it. I’ve seen many professional linguists and translators who were really good at their field, but their attempts of teaching others were plain bad. They know their thing, they really do. But they don’t know how to make others learn it.


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