Teaching English as a Second Language: Improving People’s Lives

The most fulfilling part of teaching English as a second language is helping students and watching them develop their language skills and improve their career and life prospects. Read on to see how I helped a teenager from Chile called Juana.

I moved to Chile to teach English and got a position as a high school English teacher spending the majority of my day with 14-18-year olds. It was difficult at first since I wasn’t too much older than them, which meant I had to work twice as hard to earn their respect to be their adult role model. However, once I overcame this obstacle, I really helped people by teaching English as a second language.

I met Juana when she was a shy, insecure girl who sat in the back of the class. She didn’t have the confidence to ask questions, nor give an opinion when asked. She was mostly known as the organizer of the class because she was the most responsible. People always asked her what the homework was, when it was due, when the tests were, etc. But, beyond that, they didn’t speak to her much. And this was all in Spanish, her native language, so imagine the difficulties that surfaced in English class! At first, Juana never spoke to me out of fear that I wouldn’t understand her English and I would be upset or make fun of her for it.

How I Helped Juana by Teaching her English as a Second Language

I would prepare Juana for questions I might ask her in future classes, so she could be prepared, I sent her extra practice worksheets to help improve her grammar, and I would read with her in class when time allowed to help her ensure she understood the content. These small gestures slowly allowed Juana to trust me as not only a teacher, but an adult that would support her no matter what. She started sitting in the front of the class, raising her hand first out of anyone to ask when she didn’t understand, and asking me to edit any work before turning it in. Juana’s face started to light up each time she entered my room because she started to grasp the idea that English was a strength of hers that would allow her to achieve her goals.

How Teaching English as a Second Language Helped Juana

Juana is now preparing to graduate high school in one year. Before, she never thought about moving out of her parents’ house or going to a university more than 30 minutes away from home. But now, I’m helping her with university applications for schools in the United States! Doors have opened for her and her opportunities around the globe are limitless. It was so satisfying helping to improve someone’s life by teaching them English as a Second language.

Based on an article written by Brianna Lea