There are four things that are most important to me in teaching. First, I have to have fun and enjoy what I am doing. If I am not enjoying myself then something is wrong. Second, I try to enable the students to enjoy the class. The first contributes to the second because if the students see that I am enjoying myself then I think they are likely to have a positive attitude, and hopefully enjoy it. Third, I try to make my lessons functional, meaning that the students should have a realistic chance of accomplishing the lessons’ goals in the allotted time. Fourth, the content of the lessons should be efficacious, meaning that the language ought to be realistic everyday language that they really can use when meeting English-speaking foreigners, or traveling in an English-speaking country, or listening to English-language music or watching English-language movies - things that they might really do in their real lives. After that I think about the four language elements: listening; speaking; reading; writing.
My lessons start with the student as the center of conversation and then grow out in concentric circles from that base. Students should be able and encouraged to talk about themselves since they are their own best topic. They are experts on their lives, their school and their country, which makes these the best conversation lessons. I try to avoid arcane figures of speech and keep the target language simple, direct, streamlined. In addition, my presentation style is calculated to be slow, repetitive and easy for students to listen to and absorb. A native English speaker hearing me might think that I have a speech impediment when actually I am deliberately using a calculated style.
I don’t like to relinquish control of the class. I want to be in control, directing the students. Some think the ideal classroom is one where the students are in control of their environment and their learning, setting their own goals and pace, and this is what is called a student centered education. But I feel my Japanese students are not ready for that because the knowledge and language gaps are such that they cannot lead themselves into English. I have to draw them in using my personality and my tailored materials.
Human relations are important to me. Once I meet students - new students especially - we have a relationship. I know that my students have expectations: that I will always be in class at the appointed time; that I will be happy and energetic; that the lesson will be fun and easy. I do not want to disappoint them. I want them to be happy they are studying English.