E Is For ESL

E is for English as a Second Language (ESL). This is my 12th year teaching ESL to adult immigrants and I love it. I never anticipated teaching English would be so much fun. My friend at church suggested I think about teaching ESL. “Boring,” I thought, “there are already too many teachers in my family. On my dad’s side of the family: my dad, my aunt, and my grandma were teachers.” Also, my cousin currently teaches. I have fond memories though, of going with my dad to his high school English and journalism classes. My dad also taught adult ESL.

Teaching ESL to adults is the perfect “Mom Job” (and perhaps “Dad Job” too). I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings: 9:30am to 12:30pm and am home a few hours before my kiddos. I also give classes on Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30pm to 9:30pm, while my husband holds down the fort.

When my first daughter was born, I wanted to be home with her. I hadn’t anticipated that. I didn’t want to miss any part of her growing up: first smiles, first words, first “Mommy and Me” dance classes… Also, childcare is expensive. So, for a while, I wrote for Johns Hopkins University and edited and wrote parts of books and monographs for a professor at the University of Maryland. Writing is another ideal “Mom Job”. I wrote, while my daughter napped, or played with our Mother’s Helper.  Writing is lovely, but I can’t seem to figure out yet, how to make it a continuous and stable job.

When my daughter was about two, I was excited to find a possibility to teach on a regular basis, during evening hours, when she was asleep. I thought, teaching English to immigrants might be something I could do, since I have experience working overseas.  Coming from a family of teachers helped boost my confidence about the idea too.

In 2006 I was hired by Prince George’s Community College. At first, I worked across the street at Eleanor Roosevelt Hight School, Monday and Wednesday evenings. Through the years I have worked between 6 to 32 hours a week depending on what was happening at home. I taught 2 classes: morning and evening classes and did teacher observations and worked on the data and registration teams for a total of about 32 hours, when Hailey was in about first grade. Her sister hadn’t arrived yet, so I had a good amount of time on my hands. I currently work about 20 hours, between my level 5 class, my level 3 class and some data entry.

I enjoy my students so much. They are a very diverse group: from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and other places. I recall, 3 years ago, one of my students, who was about to have a baby said, “Teacher. I went to the doctor and he asked me if my feet were swollen. I understood him! My husband didn’t understand, he said, ‘what does swollen mean?’ I explained to him.” This made me feel very happy. I am also pleased when I get to introduce my girls and sometimes even my hubbie, to my students at our end of the semester ESL parties. My students bring delicious dishes from their countries. Our family favorite is Pupusas, from El Salvador. I am grateful for the joy ESL teaching has brought me and my family.

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