I teach in a private university, so the students come from wealthy, very privileged backgrounds for the most part. They don’t want to be in their English classes, and usually don’t pay attention to anything other than their iPhones. I never thought that coming to teach in a university, the biggest problem I’d face would be dealing with how to control the classroom, prevent rampant cheating and motivate students to want to learn. But such is my daily battle. It amuses me to watch a classroom of 25 privileged children in a problem solving situation like putting chairs in rows or to watch some of them outside, perplexed about how to walk through a revolving door that isn’t moving. It’s so confusing!
I wouldn’t say that I am passionate about teaching ESL. I like languages and language play, though, and I also like being able to play a role as a teacher – it’s theatre. The students often sap all motivation and enjoyment out of this, though, and teaching them can be quite miserable and dreadful. Alas, I do what I can to make the hours somewhat enjoyable.
Staffroom banter is probably what I enjoy most about the job. Among the native teachers on staff, we’re all fairly young, intelligent, and have a sarcastic sense of humor, which usually results in taking the piss out of each other day in and day out. When one teacher had had enough of the difficult life of teaching with us and abruptly quit, we awaited a new teacher, but were concerned that he or she would not be “as sarcastic and cynical” as the rest of us, to quote one lunchroom discussion.
One of the ways that I’ve found to amuse myself and hopefully inspire a desire to learn with the students is to invite them to participate in the banter. To show them that if they learn English, they can participate in my sarcastic jokes too! It usually doesn’t work, but it still amuses me, so I guess it serves its purpose. For example, below is a worksheet which I have made to learn next week’s vocabulary words for their reading and writing about diseases. See if your vocabulary skills are on par with my Intermediate students! (Mr. Rees went to Konya with me.)
THE BEST VOCABULARY WORKSHEET EVER!!!!!
A. Complete the sentences with the vocabulary words from Reading 1:
approximately (adv) cover (v) develop (v) epidemic (n) extremely (adv)
infect (v) related to (v) severe (adj) symptom (n) virus (n)
1. Doing your work in class is _____________________ getting a good grade on your portfolios.
2. A dangerous ____________ made Mr. Rees very ill this week.
3. Don’t go near Mr. Rees! Because he is so ill, he may ___________ you.
4. Mr. Rees has a _____________headache and is very angry with his students and Mr. Howard today.
5. A _____________ of Mr. Rees’s illness is that he is less handsome than Mr. Howard.
6. It was a terrible _______________! Almost everyone in school was ill, but not Mr. Howard.
7. Mr. Rees may be handsome, but Mr. Howard is ______________ handsome.
8. Mr. Rees should ____________ his face because he is not handsome.
9. As Mr. Howard grows older, he will ____________ to be an even more handsome man.
10. There are _______________ fifty teachers, but Mr. Howard is the most handsome.
B. Complete the sentences with the vocabulary words from Reading 2:
area (n) confusion (n) damage (n) explore (v) global (adj) ignore (v)
outbreak (n) react to (v) reset (v) virtual (adj)
1.Mr. Howard hopes that there won’t be an ____________ of a disease in his class.
2. Mr. Howard thinks that his students should live in the real world, not the ___________ world.
3. Mr. Howard is so handsome that he has ___________ importance.
4. Mr. Rees is so mean that he causes ____________ wherever he goes.
5. The ___________ near Mr. Rees’s desk is not tidy because he is a very messy man.
6. Mr. Rees likes to ___________ the streets near Tarlabaşi at night, but Mr. Howard does not.
7. Mr. Howard __________________ insults quickly and with great vengeance!
8. Mr. Howard wants to ______________ your brains to make you smarter.
9. The students didn’t know the words. There was _______________ about the worksheet.
10. Mr. Howard’s students _____________ his jokes.
Now I’m not sure if this will actually spark any amusement from my students, or if they will just respond with “Teacher, teacher, very boring.” At least it’s amusing me, though, which is more important. Mr. Rees already has his own version of the handout with slight changes to it.