So what can you do when you get the ESL blues? Well, for starters, try to think about the positive aspects of your job. I know that’s not the easiest thing right now, when you’re feeling like throwing in the towel, but with a little, or perhaps a lot, of effort, you can really take stock of your true feelings. And seriously consider finding new and exciting ways to teach, if just to get away from the same old boring routine.
Make a List
Grab a piece of rubbish paper or a notebook and draw a line down the middle of the sheet. Label one column ‘good,’ and the other ‘bad.’ Now start filling up that ‘bad’ column with all of the things that tick you off, and that you’ve come to hate since your anti-ESL attitude began. If you teach ESL regularly, this shouldn’t be a problem. “Students screaming in your ear, constant use of Chinese in the classroom, and just a general disregard for you and what it is you’re trying to do,” are some that come to my mind.
When you’ve hit a dry spell and can’t think of any more ideas, and if you still have room on your paper, begin filling in the ‘good’ column. Chances are this will be a bit tough right now, but I think you can manage. “I laugh a lot, I smile a lot, and some kids actually seem to be getting better” are three at the top of my list.
Now try to expand it further. Can you change anything in the ‘bad’ list slightly to make it go into the ‘good’ list? Is there something that’s bothering you today that is really quite inconsequential when you get down to it? Most likely you can get yourself feeling a bit better just by making the list, and you might even find that there are many things about teaching ESL that don’t really make you that angry at all.
Lose the Boring
Still feeling glum? Well, ditch your lessons. The next time you have to teach a full weekend, or a set of evening classes, toss the book, or maybe just don’t bring it to class. Try some games and activities that you like. If you are having fun, your students probably will be as well. And trust me: your students hate the book just as much as you do. You hate it right? Good.
Use that hatred as a creative fuel to come up with some easy and simple games that will waste a lot of time, get the kids having fun, and maintain your sanity for another week. If you can do that, you just might be able to defeat those ESL blues, at least for the time being.