Thank a Teacher Day came and went during the month of May, and as an English Teacher in China I hear “Thank you!” a lot from my adult students. Most of the teachers here working for EF in China teach English to children and teenagers, but some of us also teach English to adult Chinese students. There are many differences between teaching English to children and adults, and these differences will make it obvious why adult students who say “thank you” are so amazing. Don't get me wrong, any student who says “thank you” is a real treasure, but having adult students say these words is extra special in my opinion for a few reasons.
For some background, if you teach kids and teens with EF then you will have the same kids or teens at the same times on the same days, week after week. However, if you teach adults with EF then your teaching schedule will be much more variable, with a larger mix of class types ranging from one-on-one to 25 student workshops. This variability extends to the students you see in each class as well, because adult students get to choose which classes and at what times they attend. Adult students at EF also get a lot of information about their classes beforehand, like the name of the teacher, the class topic, and some online practice materials. Adult students often make deliberate choices about their learning and the classes they attend, which is part of the reason I like working with adults so much. Unfortunately, the freedom adult students have to choose their classes also means you as teacher may only see some students once during your time at EF. For example, you could have a great class with a fun group of students, but there is no guarantee you will ever have a class with those same students again! In fact, you may never see them again (in class)!
Now of course there is also a fairly high statistical probability that you have the same student more than once. Having a student in two different classes is a common coincidence in an EF adult school. But when you see a student in three, four, five, etc. classes then you really know said adult student likes you. Overtime you get to know these regular students, and eventually they will confess to you that they are making deliberate choices to attend your classes. You will get to know these students and their lives. You will know their strengths and weaknesses. You will become friends, and you will hear them say “thank you” more than once. Something you do in class, something about your style, something in your teaching method works for these students. They come back just to have a class with and learn English from YOU. Teaching isn't work in these classes, it's fun, like introducing something new and interesting to a friend.
As an English teacher with adult students, I love my regular students. By now I have been at EF long enough and taught my regular students long enough to have pretty good rapport with all of them. This is incredibly valuable for teaching, because regular contact lets me assess their progress and identify weaknesses more easily. It's also valuable because a friendly face in a class can really make your day. But the best past is probably the gifts students will give you! On Thank a Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Day, Chinese students love to give their teachers fruit, and sweet little goodies. Often, you will also receive food that is unique to a student's hometown or province. Each time you get one of these gifts the student will usually say “thank you teacher”, and your heart will swell. When you teach children, you will also get gifts and hear “thank you teacher”, but with adults you know that relationship is built on choice.