ESL Teacher Interview
-- Marco Melancon --
Where are you from?
I was born I New Orleans. I moved to San Francisco to finish college and
lived there for 10 years.
Where do you teach ESL?
Now in Japan. Komagane city, Nagano prefecture
Tell us about other places you've taught.
I've taught in Tokyo and another small city in Nagano. Before coming here I
taught in the Czech Republic. I've also taught for a short time In New Orleans
and San Francisco (SF was just practice after my certification before going to
How long have you been teaching ESL?
How did you get started?
I was living and playing (sometimes working in San Francisco) I was a
bartender, a DJ, house painter etc.. and was really bored with my life choices
at that time.
I also always loved to meet people from all over the world and would spend
time talking and helping there English. So my hobby was actually teaching
English to Foreigners. Also I wanted to travel abroad and work. So I decide to
get certified for ESL/EFL teaching.
What for you are the perks of being an ESL teacher?
Of course meeting interesting people from around the world and learning about
their culture. Also giving them insight on my culture. New Orleans has a rich
and wonderful history that many people are unfamiliar with. I also enjoy
explaining how many Americans are very different than the image they see on the
How do you plan your lessons?
That is a difficult question. For children I try to keep it fun and active. I
teach them something new each week and review what we've learned as much as
possible. (Now my classes are mostly once a week so reviewing what we learned is
important for them to remember it.)
For Adults I really work hard on basic Communication activities. In Japan,
where I've taught the most, students have student English for 6 years in Jr. and
Sr. high school. But they studied mostly grammar and can read and write a
little. But have little confidence in speaking English.
So my lesson preparations try to address that concern. Of course the grammar
is being reviewed in the process, but I focus more on conversation and
What advice would you like to share with those teaching ESL?
When you walk into the classroom be prepared. Have fun. Talk clearly and be
careful to use vocabulary appropriate to the level you are teaching. Many new
teachers speak to a lower level class as they would hanging out with their
friends and they loose the students quickly.
What are some of your other interests and how do they play into your
I love music, movies, cooking and eating. So from time to time we use songs
or recipes. Also I'll bring in English newspapers and magazines. It's best to
not be over dependent on one thing.
What is the most important thing to you about being and ESL
The students. Respecting their thoughts and culture. I am there to teach
English and try not to be too critical of problems I see with their politics
What do you like the most about being an ESL teacher?
The students and the chance to live and work in another country. Also the
kindness of the people I meet.
What do you like the least?
Teaching on days when you are not feeling so good. You have to give 100% and
some days that is a challenge.
What impact has teaching ESL had on your life overall?
Well for me it has given me a second chance to do something meaningful with
my life. It has put me in day to day contact with other cultures. And by doing
so helped me appreciate my culture more. And it has been a fairly decent living
here in Japan.