Just thought I'd catch up with the experience of this week, now that the young French student has packed his bag and got himself back to Paris on Eurostar. The week went amazingly well! It was probably mostly down to the fact he's such a nice young chap. Well brought up, polite, keen to learn, intelligent, interesting, and seemingly very appreciative of my teaching (also the nice flat and good old fluffy cat!).
I was convinced it would all turn out to be a very claustrophobic time. In fact, I don't know if I've ever spent so much time, and communicated so intensively, with anyone one-to-one over a five day period. When with our own children, husband or partner, we work out ways of sealing ourselves off from too much communication, don't we? Lots of down time, when the odd grunt, groan, or sign language suffices. But in this case, from 8.30am breakfast at the table, through four hours teaching in the morning, followed by lunch at the table, two more hours teaching... and at least once or twice, dinner (at the table) as well. Phew! Like any self-respecting young man, he went out on three evenings - either just to roam London, catch something to eat and enjoy the pub atmosphere. Or, one evening he visited family friends and enjoyed speaking English with them -rather than lapsing back into French, which is all their first language.
For the first time, I felt I'd really been able to help someone with my teaching and my own breadth of experience. We talked a lot about his job, problems at work, special vocabulary connected with that type of industry. We looked into writing emails (not easy when English is your first language, in the sense that you have to be careful not to offend anyone). Writing formal documents. Giving presentations and chairing meetings. It was Fun.
Now I'm getting into this English teaching game and hope it continues as well as this first effort. However, I can see that if the student were not so amenable, capable of creating his own space and allowing me some freedom. If, indeed, the student was a needy person, then the over-proximity could be a real challenge. In future, I'm only going to host students when hubby is here. Then, he can do the cooking! I mean who other than a woman would take on such an onerous multi-tasking role: shopping, cooking, cleaning, preparing classes, teaching, maybe taking the student out on trips, talking together at meal times......? I'm quite exhausted. But I just hope it's true that I've discovered a new role in life - being able to host someone in the comfort of my home and help create a truly rewarding experience for them too.