Teacher Mary Lou Price sits on grass and smiles at the camera

Teacher Feature: Mary Lou Price

  • Mar 9, 2019

In addition to comprehensive programs that include social and cultural immersion activities, what sets English Language Center at The University of Texas Austin apart from other English as a Second Language programs is our exceptional faculty. In this faculty profile, we highlight Mary Lou Price, one of our longest serving and most treasured instructors.

How did you become an English Language Center teacher at UT-Austin?

I came to Austin to do my Ph.D. in French.  After I finished my Ph.D., I decided I was tired of teaching French.  After working at a publisher and a state agency, I was craving contact with languages and other cultures and decided to try English Language Center for a year to see if I liked it. I was enormously lucky and immediately found a job teaching here, and I’ve never gotten tired of teaching English Language Center.

What is your best teaching memory?

I have many, many best memories.  Almost all of them involve times that the class and I laughed together.  One of my favorite moments happened several years ago in a beginning class.  One of the students found a cricket in the classroom and picked it up. I was afraid he was going to kill it and started yelling, “Don’t kill it!  Don’t kill it!  Then another student started yelling, “Teacher, what is “don’t kill it?” and we all started laughing. One of the students laughed so hard that he and his chair went over backward, which made us all laugh even harder! 

What has teaching taught you? What did you learn over the years that you didn’t know when you started teaching?

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that I will never be a perfect teacher.  When a semester starts, my students are all hoping to become perfect speakers of English, and I am hoping to become a perfect English teacher, and I’ve realized that we are all expecting too much of ourselves.  

What are some things you wish more people understood about learning a language?

I wish that more people understood that learning a language takes a lot of practice, much more practice than they imagine. If they understood that, I think they would be less upset with themselves about not progressing faster and would spend more time practicing. 

What has motivated you the most over the years?

What motivates me the most is meeting and helping students.  Every semester I have the opportunity to meet a new group of strangers who will soon be an important part of my life and whose needs and problems will occupy my mind in class, before class, after class, when I go to bed, when I wake up, and sometimes in the middle of the night.  

What do you like most about teaching?

I really enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to present material in an active way and in a way that will help students to learn. I also love learning about the students, about their lives and their ideas. No two students are alike, and this is what makes teaching such a rich experience.

What do you like least about teaching?

The hardest aspect of teaching is that I know that most of my students will move on and I won’t know where they ended up and how things worked out for them.