After three weeks of teaching ESL writing and grammar at the community college, I've noticed more differences between my current and past students. Of course, some of the differences can be attributed to the location.
Overall, my current students are more motivated. That's not to say that my students in China weren't--I had some amazing students there who were more motivated than any student I've ever encountered. But, there are fewer unmotivated students here in New Jersey (I also only have 45 students instead of 300, so the percentage might be similar).
To go along with the motivation, my current students are much more talkative in class. Aside from my time at the language mill in Shenzhen, I never had students who actively participated in class--including the few highly-motivated students I taught at the graduate school. On the first day of class, I was shocked by students volunteering to read in class. And, the willingness to answer questions without me looking through the class list to call on specific students makes my life easier. Of course, this also leads to numerous questions from students, some of which are difficult to answer.
The best part of teaching at the community college is that all of my students are at about the same level. Again, aside from my time at the language mill, all my classes in China had mixed levels in the same class--I've had students who were nearly fluent in English mixed with students who couldn't speak a complete sentence.
This has made me realize that if I go back to teach in China (or any other country), I want to teach English and literature majors at the university level. It would definitely be more enjoyable.