What I’ve learnt about teaching ESL in New York

 | Teaching House Nomads Blog

What is it like being an English teacher in New York? Meet Alex, a talented teacher and one of Teaching House’s CELTA graduates. Alex has lived and worked in a variety of countries, gaining life skills and experience. Now he uses his knowledge and worldly insight in practice teaching English to teenagers and adults at OHC English New York. We had the chance to chat to him about his experience and what he has learnt since becoming a teacher at OHC English.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a 29-year-old New Yorker and I have always had a passion for people. I consider it one of my strongest attributes to be a people person. I have worked in a lot of different industries since graduating from SUNY New Paltz in 2016. Since then I have been to a lot of different places and most recently was living in Lebanon before moving back to NYC to get my CELTA. 

What did you love most about studying with us? 

The CELTA at Teaching House was one of my most intensive experiences while also being one of the most rewarding. The connections I made with my colleagues are connections I will have for life. The help I received from my teachers Missy and Peter was support I have never ever had in my education before. While teaching English was never something I really even considered 5 years ago, I am glad I did.

Tell us about your role at OHC English in NYC?

During my time teaching, I found myself working with French teenagers. For a first-time teacher in this field, this was a bit of a learning curve for me. It took a couple of days before I really found myself in a groove. After we had established a rapport, the class was seamless. I was able to come into class every day and hear the highs and lows of their daily experiences in New York. I utilised that as my lead-in to our lesson for the day. I then create a game related to our lesson for the second half of class. That way we could all leave class smiling and in a good mood for the day ahead.

What do you enjoy about teaching English at OHC? Are there any special stories you have?

I really enjoyed the culture of the school, it had an energy of let's teach. I also really got to know the students. I formed dynamics with the students that left me feeling just as much like a friend as a teacher to these students. This created an environment that made it enjoyable to come to work. I will miss my time at OHC when my work with them is done.

What about the challenging parts of your job? How do you overcome these?

My first challenge was having over 20 french teenagers disengaged in a lesson on my first couple of days. There were so many dynamics going on in the room. Whether it was interpersonal between the students or as a teacher just trying to get through my lesson plan. Some days were simply just the worst. There were times I would want to give up. 

Eventually, I would have a few students that started to engage more, this created almost a snowball effect of more students engaging. Then by the end of my time with them, they were so engaged and active in my classroom that it was like night and day.

Is there any advice you can give fellow teachers like yourself?

"This too shall pass” - This is something that is overused but I feel has a lot of truths in life and in the classroom. Whether you are having the best class in the world and you feel entirely fulfilled, it will pass, and especially if you have a class that just feels like you are pulling teeth, this too shall pass. This is advice that I live with and I think other teachers could really resonate with.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given so far?

To stick with it, put in the effort. Your students can tell if you are invested. When you are invested they are invested and vice versa. Whether you are working with young learners, adolescents, or adults they will struggle at one time or another. Don't get frustrated but think creatively for a way to make them excited to start learning again.

Interested in becoming a teacher at one of our OHC English campuses? Head to our applications page to find out more. 

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