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To Be a Good Teacher, 'You Have to Forget About All Your Problems'

AA: I'm Avi Arditti, and this week on WORDMASTER: an update on an Iranian listener. Rosanne Skirble and I spoke to her by phone early in 2005.

RS: "Well, what do you like about studying English? What is it, is it a ... "

ATEFEH: "Oh, no, actually I love the language. I love studying anything in English, actually any program on TV that is in English I watch it and I love it."

AA: At that time, Atefeh was studying English literature at a university in Iran. Now, she tells us, she is studying for a master's degree in teaching English as a foreign language.

ATEFEH: "I really enjoyed studying literature and literary works and different things like that. But, you know, as a matter of fact, when you think about working after studying, you will see that the only thing you're going to do after studying literature is just teaching, right? That's why -- because I was teaching also at that time I had an interview with you, so I just thought it might be a good idea to know how teaching English is.
That's why I chose T.E.F.L."

AA: "Well, very good. So how do you enjoy teaching English as a foreign language?"

ATEFEH: "I really enjoy teaching because I like it and I like students. I like teaching them how to speak. And I really enjoy seeing them learn and improve. I've been teaching for five years now, and I've got good experience from my classes and I try to be creative by doing different stuff."

AA: "How old are your students?"

ATEFEH: "Most of them are adults, maybe older than me. I'm just twenty-three, but most of them are more than twenty-five."

AA: "What kind of school do you teach in?"

ATEFEH: "Well, I teach in institutes and also university, and they're a bit different because people who come to institutes are highly motivated because they come 'with their own legs,' as they say, as we say, and they're quite interested. They like their classes and they try to be active. But the students at university, because they have to pass some courses, they might not be interested enough most of the time."

AA: "Well, you say in your e-mail to us that recently you've been trying to be a creative teacher, to stimulate students --"

ATEFEH: "Yeah, exactly!"

AA: " -- and motivate them. So tell me about that, what are you doing to be creative and to stimulate your students to learn English?"

ATEFEH: "Well, most of the time I try to make them motivated by just making the class more fun and interesting. Like, in every term they memorize a song and that's quite fun, because at the beginning, every session we sing that and that's enjoyable. They like it very much. And sometimes I put some meetings online. We meet online in Yahoo and then we have a conference in Messenger."

AA: "And then you ... "

ATEFEH: "OK, we choose a topic beforehand and we talk about the topic, we give our ideas, different things, and I just lead the class and correct them."

AA: "What would be like a typical topic that you suggest?"

ATEFEH: "For example, one of them was friendship. Most of the students liked it. We choose it together and everybody agrees upon that, and then we talk about it. It's fun for them because it's extra activity. It's not included in the class activity, you see. This is outside, and they like it."

AA: "So now I remember when we talked to you back in two thousand five you had a -- "

ATEFEH: "Yes."

AA: " -- I think a sheet of paper on your wall, maybe, where you told us how -- "

ATEFEH: "Yes!"

AA: " -- and you even sent us a picture of how, every time you would learn a new word in English, you
would write it on this sheet on your wall. Do you still have that?"

ATEFEH: "Oh, no. I should say that I have just removed the paper from my wall, but I have kept it and I have it now. And sometimes I just look at it to see if there is a new word for me to learn. But you know, because I have become very busy, there is no time for me to do that."

AA: "What do you find is the hardest part of being a teacher?"

ATEFEH: "Well, the hardest part for most of the people -- of course, it's not for me, it's not difficult for me, I have gotten used to it -- but the hardest part is that a teacher has to forget everything in his life, in his or her life, OK, before going to a class."

AA: "Why do you say -- what do you mean by that?"

ATEFEH: "You see, if you are sad, if you have a lot of ups and downs in your life, when you enter a class, you have to be a teacher full of energy, very happy. You have to forget about all your problems. If you just take your problems to the class, you won't be a good teacher."

AA: Atefeh is an English teacher in Iran and a global member of the TESOL association. And that's WORDMASTER for this week. I'm Avi Arditti.