ESL Teacher (with Holly Taylor)

If you don’t have to speak it you won’t. It’s so awkward to speak in your second language when you’re learning. You feel you’re not able to express yourself, you don’t have a sense of humor, your personality goes away.

Most of us have the luxury of being able to speak our primary language every minute of every day.  If we choose to speak in a language other than our native tongue, it’s usually that, a choice.  We may learn to say things like “Where is the restroom?” or “Nice to meet you”, but rarely are these phrases necessary.  They’re usually learned to make conversations on vacation more easy, not with any real sense of urgency.  However, children all over the world are immigrating to countries where they simply do not know the language.  For economic or other reasons kids and teens find themselves in a new land, with no ability to speak the language.  In these instances they MUST learn the language, and there is a very real sense of urgency.  Today’s guest is an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Phoenix, AZ.  Holly teaches teens that are brand new to America, with no prior experience in speaking English.  She’ll tell us about what it is like to try and teach students like this and how the classroom dynamics play out.

I would like to tell the student to sit down…and I have to be kind of rude and direct because I don’t have the luxury of being elaborate with [the English] language to be kind and respectful.
He came late and the look on his face [was afraid]. He walks up to me, he has his schedule in his hand and just says “I don’t speak English”. And I’m like “well, you’re in the perfect place!”, and I tell him in Spanish, “please, just sit, relax, watch, observe, and just get a feel for what it’s like to be in this classroom.”

Interview Contents

2:15 - What is an ESL class?
4:00 - Who are the kids in these classes?
8:40 - Trying to teach the kids what they need.
14:15 - The testing problem.
18:00 - The relationship with the students.
22:15 - Can you speak Spanish with your kids or is it English only?
28:00 - The impact of the election on Holly’s classroom.
31:15 - Challenges in an ESL classroom that aren’t present in other classrooms.
37:15 - Teaching the kids cultural norms.
41:15 - Flexibility with lesson plans.
44:20 - The biggest change and most unexpected thing when starting ESL.
46:00 - Advice.


No Links Today



Michelle & Jim Wortner

Janelle Swanson

Jimmy Seymour


Blake Fletcher

Livin it up!