Language center

English Instruction



stack prepare upcoming
bored go over otherwise
rush local complain
fill in match (2) multiple-choice
blank grateful nevertheless
hectic end up substitute
former private here and there
suggest register needless to day
dismiss frozen nonetheless
sign up desperate heart skipped a beat
notion voice speechless
access commute shake/shook
offer academic concerned
awesome real-time demonstrate
stifled choppy articulate


The Phone Call

My phone rang. It was the director of the language center. “You have a new group this evening,” she said. “It’s going to be a business class at a telecommunications company.”

So I put on my trousers, shirt and tie, and took the bus to the center.

Textbooks and Workbooks

When I got there, the director gave me a stack of business English textbooks and workbooks for the students and myself.

I went into the teachers’ room to prepare for the upcoming lesson. I went over texts about hedge funds, a listening tract with two people negotiating and business idioms.

Printing and Photocopying

At about 4:15, I went to a photocopy shop and made print outs and photocopies of my own activities. I have to — otherwise the students will get bored and complain.

From there, I took the bus across town, through rush-hour traffic, to the company building.

Bad English

Although the students here had studied pre-intermetidate and intermediate general English with a local teacher, their communicative skills were still weak.

When that class finished, I hurried back to the language center to give a Cambridge exam-preparation class starting at 6:45 pm.

Exam Preparation

This involved mostly multiple-choice, matching, and filling-in-the-blank exercises. Fortunately I had made preparations earlier in the morning.

After that, I had a TEOFL class. When that finished at 9:30 pm, I locked the school building and went back to my apartment.

Company Classes

At this point of the year, I had ten in-company classes, in different sections of the city, using five different textbooks and workbooks. I had only two classes a week at the language center itself.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .


Then summer came. Many students took a vacation. The number of classes went down.

Though some teachers also took a summer break, most continued to work. However, there weren’t enough lessons for everyone.

Since I didn’t have a contract, I ended up substituting for other teachers here and there.

The Private Student

Wanting more work, I contacted a former, private student whom I had taught, and asked if he would like to continue having lessons.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, “but I’m taking online lessons now…”

My heart skipped a beat. I stood there speechless…frozen…

“Why don’t you register to teach online,” he suggested, and gave me their web address.

“But…but…that’s not REAL teaching,” I told him.
“Are you kidding? Online lessons are FUN!”

And as my savings dwindled, I decided to sign up for the program.

Teaching Online

In the first live class, my voice shook; I had never really used Skype before.

But after a few sessions, I got used to it.

Soon I was getting more lessons and students (and making more money!).

No Boss

What’s more, I didn’t have to wear a suit. I didn’t need to commute to the language center, different companies and schools.

And best of all — NO boss!

I could work when I wanted, with whom I wanted, as much or as little as a wanted and wherever I wanted (as long as there was internet access!).

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

The Offer

When September came, I received a phone call from the director of the language center. She offered me an in-company class.

“Oh thanks; but no thanks,” I replied to her. “You see, I’m teaching ONLINE now.”
“But…but…but…that’s not REAL teaching and learning,” she replied. “The only true teaching and learning is face-to-face…in person…in a classroom…with textbooks by professors from Oxford and Cambridge…”

Booming Business

Truth be told, I had even begun having lessons with students who had attended the language center.

By the middle of the academic year, I was earning three times as much as I had in the language center. All from my laptop — on my kitchen table!

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

The Middle of the Academic Year

Then one evening, at the start of a lesson, one of my long-time students told me that this would be the last class we would be having.

I casually asked him why (I wasn’t really concerned — after all, I had lots of students).


“Oh didn’t you hear?,” he replied. “Skype has come up with a program that makes real-time automatic translations between speakers of different languages! Isn’t that fantastic? It’s truly awesome!”

He then sent me a video link that demonstrated how it functioned.

“Wh…wh…what?!? that’s…that’s…impossible! That can’t be!” I said. “No, no, no…I mean…the voice sounds robotic, choppy and stifled. It’s not articulate, flowing or genuine. And besides, it messed up on the idioms, metaphors and figures of speech…”


*     *     *     *     *     *     *


1. The writer had a regular 9 to 5 job. Is this correct or wrong?

2. He went to a photocopy shop. Why did he go to a photocopy shop?

3. It was easy to teach the company students. True or false? Was it difficult to teach the exam-preparation classes? Why were they difficult?

4. The writer had a hectic schedule. Yes or no? Why did he have a hectic schedule?

5. What happened in the summer? Was business busy or slow?

6. How did he feel when his former student said he was taking online lessons? What happened?

7. Teaching online was much better than teaching in a classroom. Is this correct or wrong?

8. What happened when the director called the teacher? Describe her reaction.

9. Describe the reaction of the teacher when his student told him it would be their last lesson.

10. What is the moral or lesson of the story? What will happen in the future?

A. Computers, the internet and high-technology changed the way you work. Yes or no?

B. Have computers, the internet and high-technology disrupted or changed your lifestyle?

C. Are you quick to adapt to new technology?

D. Has new technology disrupted or destroyed old lifestyles?

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