971 Classroom Ups and Downs

Tom and Jess both talk about what they like and dislike about teaching.


Tom: We're both English teachers. Is there anything you hate about teaching English?

Jess: There's actually not much that I hate about teaching English but there is one thing which drives me balmy, and annoys me more than anything else and that's correcting the same mistake over, and over, and over again, and it seems that every country in which I've worked, every nationality in English learners have one mistake that they always make over and over again. In Hungary, when you say how are you to a Hungarian student, they'll reply in English, I'm feeling myself well, which is a direct translation from Hungarian but sounds rather strange and a little bit rude in English, and I must have corrected that mistake millions of times while I was there. The same students again and again and again and again, so the repetition of making the same correction really gets my goat. How about you? What do you hate about teaching?

Tom: I really wouldn't say I hate something about teaching, but I definitely think there are things that waste my time when I'm teaching. After every lesson, I very carefully right up a lesson plan, bring all those materials together, put it in a little plastic wallet and store it away in a folder, and I know full well I will never open that folder to read about that lesson again. I kind of approach every lesson as fresh and new and try and come up with something different and every time I'm writing them all up, doing all this paperwork and I really don't need to. I need to get in control of myself and stop doing that. You told me what you most dislike about teaching, but I'm sure you love this job. What are some things you like about English teaching?

Jess: I think the thing I like the most about teaching is what I call the "Ah-hah" moment when you're studying a language point with a class or a student and you can almost see physically the moment they understand, they moment they're able to make sense of the language of they can do the task that you've asked them to do, and you can almost see a light bulb go off above their head, "Ah-hah! Now I understand." and I love that. I love the surge of confidence that gives the students and also makes me feel really good that I helped them to reach that point. What do you love about teaching Tom?

Tom: The thing I really love is right at the end of the course, when the students come up to you after a long time of haranguing about homework and about being late and about correction and drilling and the students come up and say, "Teacher, we're all going to dinner at the end of the course. Do you want to come with us?" and that must makes me smile. Now, I know I saying this to you Jess, but I know there's a lot of people out there listening to this. It really makes my heart warm to go and have some social time with the students at the end of a long course.

Jess: So the thing you like most about teaching is when the teaching is finished?

Tom: Oh, you've got me on that one, yes.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson

drives me balmy


That's one thing which drives me balmy.

Something or someone that drives us balmy makes us crazy. Notice the samples:

  1. It drives the neighbors balmy when she practices her violin.
  2. When we forget elementary grammar, it drives our teacher balmy.

over, and over, and over again


He made the same mistake over, and over, and over again.

When we do something over, and over, and over again it means we repeat it many times. Here are two samples:

  1. He came to class late, over, and over, and over again so the teacher failed him.
  2. I practiced the song over, and over, and over again until it was perfect.

direct translation


It's a direct translation from Hungarian.

'Direct translation' means to translate from one language to another without changing the word order. Notice the following:

  1. Direct translation often results in poor grammar and unclear meaning.
  2. Her writing errors were mostly a result of direct translation problems.

get my goat


That really gets my goat.

Something that gets our goat makes us a little angry. Here are two samples:

  1. As a teacher, it really gets my goat when students cheat on exams.
  2. It gets my goat when people use their cell phones in the theater.

I know full well


I know full well I will never open that folder.

The phrase 'I know full well' means we know something already. Note the samples.

  1. I know full well I won't finish my research paper on time.
  2. The teacher knew full well that Natalie had copied the information from the internet.

surge of confidence


I love the surge of confidence.

When we have a surge of confidence, it means that we suddenly have stronger confidence.  Notice the following:

  1. Getting the quiz right gave here a surge of confidence in her listening skills.
  2. The teacher's support gave him a surge of confidence.

you've got me

Oh, you've got me on that one.

The phrase 'you've got me on that one' means the same as 'I don't know'. We often use this phrase when after careful thought, we can't answer a question. Notice the following:

  1. Who was the US president after Lincoln? Hmm…you've got me on that one.
  2. What team won the 1998 world cup? Oh, you've got me on that one.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
drives him • over again • direct translation • get my goat • full well • surge • got me
  1. You've .  I have no idea how old she is.
  2. It is really hard to give a of this phrase.
  3. I know you are just trying to , so I am going to ignore you.
  4. It balmy when I listen to my girlie music in the car.
  5. I don't know why he would bring me a tuna sandwich when he knows that I don't like fish.
  6. After I got the answer correct I felt a of confidence rush through me.
  7. It is more frustrating because he makes the same mistake over and .