Frustrations of Teaching


Recently I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with work. For anyone reading this for the first time, I teach kids from the ages of 2 to 18 in after-school English classes. The classes are held in a small private school. Two classrooms, two foreign conversation teachers, a Japanese grammar teacher, a Filipina helper and a Japanese office lady. The owner/”director” of the school makes an occasional appearance for a few minutes.


There are some problems.


First, there are just too many kids in each class. Some classes have fourteen 4-6 year olds. Now, in comparison to regular school class sizes, this is tiny, but for me, it’s too many. Mostly because I just don’t have the language skills to control them. I mean, if one of the kids says something horrible to another, and then gets pummelled, the pummeller gets in trouble and the pummellee gets an apology. It’s just not right. I spend so much of my time breaking up fights and trying to get the kids to concentrate that it’s exhausting. 


The second major problem is mixed levels in the same class. One class has a couple of kindergartners in with a bunch of 8-year-olds that range from smart to dolt and one sharp as a tack 10-year-old. The 10-year-old is bored out of his mind, the kindergartners don’t learn a thing and the 8-year-olds don’t learn much because whenever they don’t know the answer, they look to the older kid and he whispers the answer. It’s all kind of pointless. 


Lastly, the level that’s being expected is too high. The crunch came when I was trying to teach the kids the phrase “any”. As in, “is there any soda/are there any sandwiches”. We were playing go fish. The kids had to use the phrase “Do you have any fives”. They’re playing in teams, three 10-year-olds to a team. It’s the girls’ team’s turn. One says “Do you have any….. go?” Go is Japanese for five. Seriously. I’m trying to teach the particulars of some/any and they can’t count to ten. After having gone to classes at this school for seven years. Their parents have spent over million yen on classes at this school over the past seven years or so. Go convert that into your own currency and marvel. I’m spending my days drilling verbs like repair, shovel, type and revise when the kids’ grasp of be, do and go are shaky at best. 


Ugh. Sometimes I miss my desk job.



2 Responses

  1. I feel for you. I really do. You are certainly not alone.
    My best advice is to treat each day as if it were your last. Have fun.
    You won’t be here forever.. Japan, or this planet.

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