Last week Inari-san said one of my students speaks English very well. I told him that his English is okay, and Matsutani-san said I’m severe. I thought about whether this is true, and I decided that I guess it is. But there is a very good reason.

The student is one of my old students, which means that he has had more experience and time using English. I know his strengths and weaknesses more than the students who I’ve only met this year so I have expectations because I believe he can be even better and until he does I shouldn’t be satisfied with what he can do now.

It’s very different from the students I’ve had since March this year. They have basically only had 16 lessons so when Inari-san said that one of my new student’s English is bad, I told him I don’t think so. She only just started taking my lessons in March.

Perhaps she has never taken conversation lesson before and to expect her to sound great and speak wonderfully with the very little experience she has had is very unrealistic. Of course I want all my students to become really good at speaking and maybe to even have good grades in school as a result of taking my lessons, but I think, basically and especially at the beginning, my job is not to judge and give scores.

My lessons are opportunities for students to explore English without getting scared of making mistakes, realize that making mistakes is fine and a part of the learning process, and eventually learn to like English as a language and a tool rather than simply a subject they have to pass in school.