I asked "Jim" (my motivated student) what he wanted to know about English or learn about English. He seemed unsure about how to say what he wanted or maybe my question was too broad, or maybe the possible answers are too broad and difficult to articulate given that I'm the one teaching him what I know about my native tongue and the place I grew up. I'll give him some time to come back with an answer. I'd love to get more input from my students about the things they want from my class, I can see how hard they work to understand me whenever they pull out their books and turn to the index or the dictionary. At first I forbid myself from using Chinese, but now that I understand the level that they are at, I understand that what few bilingual instructions I can give are actually very much appreciated and I have more students speaking to me now that they've heard my bad Chinese. I still limit my Chinese a lot and I hope to use less in the classroom as time goes on, especially since it's always so thrilling to hear them speak a little more. Here, teachers go up a grade along with the students they teach. I sometimes think that I wouldn't mind staying if it meant I could follow them for another year, continue answering their questions, andlet them see what their capable of with each activity. I've built my lesson plans this month primarily to ensure my students would be able to understand most of the song "This is Halloween" because there are few things I want more than to say "Look, you say you are not very good, but you understood a song in English!"
They are worth every late night, hours of marker fumes and scouring books for grammar and vocabulary that are new and provide new challenges but are not impossible to achieve. I really hope I can get a solid collection of Playaway devices set up in a secure space so that my students always have the option of not only reading, but hearing English spoken by someone other than myself. I'd give them the world if I could, but I am a limited human being and they are middle schoolers with many other things to learn still.