Preferring Beginners

It is often said that as teachers progress in their careers they prefer teaching beginners to more advanced students. When you are a novice teacher you desire to teach advanced classes because you figure if you fuck something up you can probably talk your way out of the problem . But as you progress as a teacher you get increasingly more comfortable with lower and lower level students, until finally you reach the point where you can teach a class to a student who has never spoken your language in their life. But what you are often told is that more seasoned teachers often prefer teaching beginners. One wonders why that is. The excuse you hear is that it is really only at this level where you see any kind of actual progress with your students. At other levels you just kinda watch the students flounder around and not make any kind of real progress (which frankly I think  is a problem of methodology).

Well, at the center I work at I have been given more and more beginner classes. It wasn’t a choice; I can handle them, the students like me, and I don’t complain about it. On top of this I am one of the more competent teachers, and so they administration feels like they can trust me with the task. At first I was bothered by; ‘beginner classes are boring!’ I thought ‘and you can’t have any real conversations in them’. And these points are absolutely true. In beginner classes all you do is repeat the same words getting the students to try to pronounce them correctly, then insert those words into a very basic sentence and see if they can talk about something in a very limited capacity. And the topics are generally boring, such as talking about what you do in your free time (“I like watching movies. Let’s watch a movie at 5 o’clock”). If only you could talk about something more interesting.

Then you do a more advanced class, a horror which will need its own post. But it doesn’t go well. Maybe it’s just a China thing (could be!) but you come to a horrible realization;

You don’t want to have a real conversation with these students. They have nothing you are interested in hearing even if they could express it. And you have no desire to listen to them stammer through an attempt to explain themselves.

And then it dawns on you. Beginner classes are easy, they are less stressful, and you prepare the material once and never have to worry about it again. Why do seasoned teachers prefer teaching beginners? Because we are lazy.

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