When we first met in September, BiBi was an entry-level English language learner and I was a new English as a New Language teacher. BiBi, a 5th-grader, was reluctant to learn, to speak a word of English or even to go over the English alphabet. She wanted to hold on to her home language. I totally understand this. Why should a child be stripped of her identity just because she is in another country?
Antonio was a genuine, square-one beginner when I met him in my English as a New Language class in September. He was on time, seated up straight in the front row, smiling. He had been in this country for just weeks and he was clearly ready to learn. But was I ready to teach him?
As a first-year teacher, any concerns I had about teaching students so close to my age faded during a recent discussion about "The Great Gatsby" in my 11th-grade English class.