Teacher or Clown?

A student recently asked me, "Why do some teachers speak to me fake?"

Of course, I quickly corrected her question to, "Why do some teachers fakely speak to me?"

Then I asked her what she meant. She told me that some online English teachers act to "jolly" and treat her like a small child. This particular student is a business professional, about 40 years-old, and very fluent in English. Her reason for lessons is so she does not lose her speaking ability, as she has no one in her daily life to speak with in English, and to brush up on advanced grammatical topics.

I told her I understood. See, when I first was looking to teach online, I went for the first company I saw. Not mentioning any official names here, I'm sure you all know to whom I am referring. Anyway, these particular companies, and many more, want online teachers to "act" more than "teach". My student was so happy that I was, well, normal. I spoke to her comfortably and without any overzealous compliments or hand gestures. Oh, and I didn't get the job with that particular company mentioned above. They told me I wasn't "animated" enough.

It's true, that English teaching online can turn into a bit of a circus. I understand that with young learners, one needs to be more entertaining to keep their attention. I currently teach children from a well-established Chinese online company as well. A different company. A company that wants real teachers. I have discussions with the classes about literature and various grammatical topics. Yes, especially for the younger students, I do play educational games. However, I never go bonkers with the compliments, the extreme smiling, or the hand gestures. And especially with my adult students here, I would never act like that.

My point is this: Adult students want a teacher. Not a clown. Not an actor. They feel patronized when teachers overpraise and treat them like small children. This is a real teaching program, with real students, and real teachers. Not a circus for parents to feel comfortable that their 4-year-old is having a good time while learning English. Basically, those sites simply do not produce the same results as a site that focused on real teaching, and real learning. So teachers, please teach! You don't have to act!

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