For a lot of corporate or one-to-one language teachers there is a particular situation which has been the subject of conversation in many informal meetings or happy hours: The teacher as shrink.
It is extremely common for us to spend some class time listening to the student’s personal problems or dilemmas. Of course, we all sign confidentiality agreements and never share these with anyone.Nevertheless, the fact that we eventually become the student’s confidante is something that still haunts us. In our campfire gatherings some theories are put forward:
Are teachers so likable and inspire so much trust that students disclose some of their own drama to us?
Is it the fact that we are a neutral party in the student’s life, considering that we are neither work colleagues nor family, university or school mates; and especially, we are not their husband nor wife?
Another argument is because we see our students on a regular basis, and eventually become their friends, the door then opens for a bit of a tête-à-tête during class.
Overall the theory I agree the most with (not that the others are not as worthy) is the one that since a foreign language is spoken in class the student feels they are using some sort of encrypted code which allows them to take weight off their shoulders by sharing part of their ‘exclusives’ with us.
If you’re one of our students don’t fret. Your stories are safe.
What happens in class stays in class!