Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | July 21, 2010

Teaching satisfaction

We, as teachers, are often able to assess our students’ progress but unfortunately, they find it difficult to see…
Sometimes, they are lucky enough to be in a situation where they are “forced” to realise they have made a lot of progress.
One example of that is what happened recently to one of my students. As she was walking on her way to her office, some young girls called her and asked her her way… in English of course!
She realised that before we started the lessons together, she would never have been able to help the girl properly (she said she would have showed her with a map or with signs but with barely any word) and that now she was able to give directions and help this girl out! She said she felt very proud and satisfied!
I have to admit I was really happy to hear that and I did feel some satisfaction!
One of the main reasons why it is sometimes difficult for our students to realize how much they have progressed is that unfortunately they don’t get many opportunities to use the language outside the class, sometimes even at work…
How about your students? Do they sometimes go through similar situations?
And you, how do you get some satisfaction from your job?

Your ideas now!




  1. Once again I know exactly what you mean. I find it so difficult when I see that unconvinced look in my students’ eyes when I tell them that I feel they really have got better. It’s like they saying : sure you SAYthat but I don’t feel any difference. So when one of them comes to see me telling a story often very similar to yours, oh my god what a relief. And yes I do feel a certain pride. Is that wrong? I taught French in England for a few months and I came back full of confidence about my teaching skills. Everyone came to say how they really enjoyed the course. But in France the compliments are quite rare. I’m always looking at my students to see signs of boredom or satisfaction or that they don’t undeerstand what I’m saying. I find this exercise very tiring. But what satidfaction when they tell you they’ve progressed!

  2. I’ve got to say that often I don’t get students making progress. It’s strange, they tend to use the word progress, rather than improvement.

    In fact, I’m virtually sure they’ve developed their vocabulary every time but that doesn’t equate to progress i.e. going a step further in the language.

    My hope is that over time, I will have put them on a trajectory so that at least some of them will realize in 2 or 3 years time that actually they have made that progress they were looking for.

    But I think that because learning language is after all a natural process, it’s pretty much impossible to alter that and speed that up.

    We were talking about this with Eric (of the Lyon English network) this evening. He was saying that it also depends on the amount of work that students put it and I was saying about how much they surround themselves with English on a day-to-day basis.

    If I ever find a way of making incredible progress in a language in a short space of time, I’ll let you know! and you have to promise to do the same too!

    I try to get them to visualise things in English (table, chair, door…) to get them to try to think in English.

    I actually only really started thinking about everything in French in France after about 7 years. So how can we expect our students to “think” in English after only, say, 20 hours.

    For me, it’s a natural, long-term thing, just like you would learn a language as a baby in a first language, you have to give the time for the second-language.


  3. What you’ve just said is terribly true. Thinking about it I realize that what I call progress is actually more a type of evolving. Yes that’s more what I try to achieve. Get them to evolve. I always say at the begenning of a course – I can’t promise you you’ll improve but I can promise you one thing; I will show you that learning a language is fun and that making mistakes is not the end of the world.

    Another thing I say, and it is a bit what you’ve just said Paul, is that it takes us about 15 years to master our own language and we expect to learn a foreign one in 20 hours…

  4. I was thinking today about a story from one of my (ex)-students.

    His English is actually very good. But at one time, it wasn’t. He moved to San Francisco and his English was pretty poor but he ended up selling stuff door-to-door in shops in the town.

    He had his work cut out because to start with it was a nightmare for him but gradually, over time, he got better and better at English and now he’s speaking with a full on Californian accent and vocabulary to go with it.

    So I wonder sometimes if a student needs to go through a hard-time to get what they want and if the exercises that we give them in-class don’t need to be exercises where there is something at stake if they get it wrong. I’m always looking for more pair-work activities where communication is essential.

    But even that is not going to get them talking with a Californian accent, perhaps the only thing that will work is going to the country to learn, if you go to an English-speaking place where your only alternative is to speak English to communicate, then I’d postulate that everyone will make progress. The people I’ve spoken to who haven’t made progress have been with other people of their own nationality and just ended up speaking their language. My experience in France was that I forced myself to be in a position where I HAD TO speak French and it worked.


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