“Can’t Help But Compare”
/ By: Smilling Montecillo /

Seven-thirty is the rush hour for all people, may it be a worker, a student, an ordinary person or a businessman. People just walk and cross the busy streets here and there. With large footsteps they walk with long necks as they watch and wait for jeepneys.
The grinding halts of jeepneys can be heard as they race to compete for the passengers. And in the midst of the fumes and the traffic, though in a hurry, all have their own story to tell. And I’ve got mine today.
I was riding a jeepney when two ladies busy chatting with each other caught my attention. Oooops! It was not my intention to overhear their conversation:
Lady 1: “Do you have a new student today?”
Lady 2: “Yeah, I have two one-on-one classes. One Japanese and a Korean.”
And so I thought, “Ah, these ladies are ESL teachers.” With a secret glance, I looked at their uniform. “Mhhmmm… with a white shirt with a school logo, and black trousers. Heads up!”, I said to myself. “My uniform is better: shades of blue and brown that are professionally designed. Whoever wears this surely looks chic and classy. Not to mention the shiny black shoes”.
Lady 1: “I only received little money this month because I only have few students.”
Lady 2: “Same here! Because it’s not peak season.”
I smiled. “My salary? Well, it’s bigger! And it’s fixed! Peak season or not! Plus perfect attendance incentives! And ladies, we only have five-day classes with eight-hour work, and we can enjoy the holidays as everyone wishes. Come on, ladies, change school,” my mind screamed. With a triumphant smile I continued listening to them.
Lady 2: “Do you have the Advanced Grammar Book?
Lady 1: “No, I don’t have it. Why? Are you going to use it?”
Lady 2: “Yes, my student requested to have another class again. He really wants to improve his English as soon as possible. But I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what book to use!”
Lady 1: “You should…”
I suddenly recalled all our books. We have speaking, grammar, listening, reading, vocabulary, pronunciation and many more books with corresponding levels and degree of difficulty. See? It’s easier to use our books because each book has designated skills to develop and to be assessed, not to mention the CEFR system of measuring language proficiency to determine what exactly a language student needs to learn in order to achieve a certain level or proficiency and competence. So, these ladies continue working in their school.
Lady 1: “Ah…yes…yes, if we meet at the lobby, they are just like nothing to me.”
Lady 2: “I agree. There’s no bond between students and teachers.”
“Wait, wait! Are they talking about relationships between a student and a teacher? Well, our school is very strict. Intimate relationships between a student and a teacher are strictly prohibited. It’s a No-No, to maintain the dignity and professionalism of the teacher. However, the school provides the “Buddy System” wherein teachers assist students in changing their schedules, subjects and classes and other concerns. Because of this, students and teachers create a very close professional bond with each other! Ladies, you should have come to our school!
“Oh! Who’s going to get off at Philinter?” the driver asked. With a BIG smile carved on my face, I said “Me!” I’m so inspired to work today. Wait! Have I paid my jeepney fare?