As an English teacher, your students are your customers, and they come in all different shapes and sizes.
You might have a group of 40 five-year-old kids who need to be taught their ABCs, you might have four 75-year-olds who just want to hear you talk, and you might even have a boardroom of salary men that are just sitting patiently through this mandatory English class so they can get home.
Since this range of potential students can be so vast, the range of your teaching style and strategy should be equally vast, to keep your customers satisfied. Remember, the more satisfied they are, the longer they will keep requesting (and paying for) your services.
The easiest way to gauge your effectiveness of meeting the needs of your customers is the amount of fun you observe happening during your classes.
Of course, different customers show how they are having fun in very different ways.
Younger students are easier to read. Their excitement will be a great indicator of how much fun they’re having in your class. As long as they’re not out of control, a high-energy classroom ensures that your customers (or the people that choose who gets paid to teach them) will keep hiring you as their teacher.
With older students, it’s a bit of a different story. Fun is not something every adult easily shows in Japan (or anywhere, really). To gauge fun with older students, what you’re really looking for is engagement.
Are they asking questions? Are they taking notes? Are they coming to your class a few minutes early? Staying a few minutes late? There are all things that indicate you’ve got some engaged customers.
It’s important to note that just showing up to your class every week doesn’t mean they are engaged. Engagement means active participation.
If your classes are already fun and engaged, great. If they’re not, you’re going to want to change your ways a bit to try to increase their investment.
The easiest way to do this is to be more engaged yourself. It might be the 40th time you’ve explained what a gerund is, but that doesn’t matter to your customers. This is the first time they’ve ever heard about this insane concept. (A verb that’s a noun? Get outta town.)To them, this is probably confusing and interesting. It will require your best effort to help your students understand this concept. And ultimately if you want to keep your customers happy (and develop the kind of reputation that generates referrals and positive reviews), it behooves you to meet that need.
Another easy way to increase fun is to use relatable examples. Instead of that boring iStock picture you use in all of your examples for what an “ear” is, why not use a picture of you when you were in Elementary school with a big arrow pointing to your ear? Maybe a picture of the school’s principal or secretary? Look for ways to inject more engaging examples whenever possible, and your customers will repay you with more engagement.
Another often-overlooked way to add more fun into your classrooms is with your own demeanor. While younger students will require a bit more genki from you, your tired salary man classes might enjoy a more laid back teacher who engages them with videos or fun debate questions, for example. Our biggest mood-making tool in the classroom is ourselves, and if you aren’t using that tool effectively, your customers won’t be as engaged as they could be.
English teaching is ultimately about sharing information. Nowadays when information can be shared in so many different ways, it’s even more important for you to share the information of English in the way that best fits each student to make them feel that they are getting their money and time’s worth. Everything you’re teaching is only a Google search away, after all. Gauge their needs, their engagement, and how well you’re helping them reach their goals, and you’ll have much happier customers. And much happier customers means a much happier bank account for you.