TEFL : More to it than I thought...
I’m actually struggling a little bit on my TEFL. I’m stuck on Checkpoint Three, it’s very long winded and the whilst I know what I would do if I was planning and structuring a lesson - putting them into a words is a little bit more difficult that’s for sure. I’ve got it all worked out in my head! It’s just presenting it in words!
Either way, I am really enjoying learning all this stuff! Hell I was never too fond of school back in the day as I was forced to learn but the tables definitely turn when you actually want to learn!
I have bought a new laptop for my travels also. I love new gadgets, so shiny and new! My old laptop was seriously falling apart so it needed replacing. Besides I will need a laptop to do my work reports and lesson plans on whilst I’m working in Bangkok. Now I will have a decent piece of machine to do it on.
I had another weekend in Manchester with my parents this weekend just gone. It was nice and chilled again. I also got my hair cut into a more professional hair style so I look more professional for working. Here, have a picture of my new haircut:
Teaching in Spain
I´ve been sick and/or out on the town a bit with friends as well as too lazy to walk to the library to get internet access to post. My bad.
Soundtrack for the weekend was this chick. That is all I´m going to say about that.
Anyway, today I taught in the science class and it went rather well. I started thinking about what made a class “good” or “bad” to me. Before I get into that, here´s a rundown of how my classes are organized:
This is not my actual class. I posted it cause it is supposed to be a classroom in Bahrain and I´m looking at the kid with the Mike Vick jersey on.
I teach in the bilingual program at my school, so these students have signed up to learn a portion of their subjects in English. I teach in the 1st and 2nd of ESO (educacion secundaria obligatoria) which is equivalent to like 6th and 7th grade in the US, 11-13 year old students. I teach an almost equal split of hours in 1st and 2nd of ESO. I attend science, english, math and art (only with 1st). So that´s two classes of science, two of English, two of math and 1 Art class per week. Each teacher organizes the class differently and has me doing different things.
For both math classes, I just come in an read the worksheets the teacher has already prepared so that the students can hear my pronunciation of the words etc. The students then re-read the word problems aloud, translate, then solve the problems. Class runs smoothly cause the math teacher is no joke and he keeps the kids in line. It is very funny when he is fussing at them, but he definitely helps them learn a lot.Some days I come in for 30 minutes, others for the full hour.
In both English classes, I have a more advisory role and I can design my own activities for the kids to do. I also attend these classes twice a week each.
In the older English class, I pull one student at a time to speak to me in the back of the classroom about whatever topic they are studying that week in class. For example, they were studying “describing people” so I asked them to describe what they were wearing on one day, and on another I had them describe their best friend (their personality). I have also started assigning them homework to help me “Get to know Spain” because, why should I do all that research and work to find things out when I have an army of hyper preteens who need something to do? It works out better for the whole world. So last week I assigned them each a city to research the history, things to do, how to get there, what it is famous for etc and they had to present it to me in English. I learned quite a bit about Spanish cities that way. This week, they are telling me about their favorite music, the main rule being that they must talk about someone who is from Spain or who sings in Spanish. They also must ask their parents about their favorite music. That way, I figure I can get a good range of different music types in case the kiddies only listen to rubbish (do you know how upset I´d be if they all put Pitbull?!) which will shortly go onto my mp3 so I can work out to some Spanish tunes.
In the 1st of ESO Spanish class, once a week I take small groups (10) at a time and play a game, have them present something to me or do some English exercises with me. The other week, we played “Concentration” using our English vocabulary for foods. They really enjoyed that although they couldn`t concentrate on the beat and remember to say a type of food in English at the same time to save their lives. I think I will include this in the repertoire to get them to practice vocabulary words. It is easier to do the breakout groups because otherwise the volume in the classroom gets too loud. This week, I had them do “factual worksheets” about animals that I assigned, then the group had to get up and present it to me in English. That went fairly well too.
Finally, Science. The teacher gave me a list of topics that I could design lessons around, and these topics directly relate to what they are doing in the book. He also thought I could infuse some American culture in there when I talked about each topic. For example: Natural Parks, Ecosystems, Recycling are some of the topics I can cover. In the beginning, I did a lot of `fill in the blank`worksheets where I read a text and they have a worksheet with the same text with some words missing. The problem with those is that it is very passive and I think they get bored with it very quickly, especially if there are many words they don´t understand in the text. I think it is a good activity for them to practice listening comprehension though.
Today was a good class in science today (usually is though). I prepared a worksheet with questions, fill in the blank, true/false, and `bubbles` for producers/consumers/decomposers. I had the links for 3 short videos on youtube that would help them complete the worksheets. I even told them a story about how my brother and I used to hunt for slugs to salt them when we were very young- they found that disgusting and cruel (which it is) but also interesting and I am sure they will remember the word `slug`from now on.
So, I think I have prepared a good class when the troublemakers or the “I-dont-want-to-be-here” or the “I`m-to-afraid-to-speak-in-English” students are engaged and participating. Today I had like three of those students raising their hands and answering questions about slugs, snails, decomposers, types of producers and consumers, ecosystems and all sorts of science stuff. These are kids who never raise their hands.
She´s not paying attention AT ALL.
There are two little girls in the 1st of ESO class who I think go into a panic when I call on them or come near them to speak. They are very smart girls who study a lot and know many of the answers (in Spanish), they are just too nervous to speak their English. When either of those two are participating, I believe I am doing a good job.
If the shy girls raise their hand AND smile while answering, I`m doing a bang-up job!
“If English is indeed the first truly international language, it is also a subject of controversy. English has been recently described as both an “alchemy” (Kachru, 1986) and a “Trojan horse” (Cooke, 1988). For Kachru, “knowing English is like possessing the fabled Aladdin’s lamp, which permits one to open, as it were, the linguistic gates of international business, technology, science, and travel. In short, English provides linguistic power” (p. 1). For Cooke, on the other hand, English is a language of “cultural intrusion. . . in a very real way, English is the property of elites, expressing the interests of the dominant classes” (p. 59). This debate is important for teachers of English internationally: If we are implicated in producing and perpetuating inequalities in the communities in which we teach, we are accountable for our actions. Clearly, as Judd (1983, 1987) and Walters (1989) argue, teachers of English should be aware that teaching is a political act. Judd argues that the teaching of English as a second or foreign language can (and should) raise moral dilemmas for teachers. Are we contributing to the demise of certain languages or linguistic communities? Does the teaching of ESL or EFL serve to entrench the power of an elite, privileged group of people who may have little interest in the welfare of the majority of the people in the country? Do teachers of ESL sometimes participate in a process that “nurtures illusion” (Judd, 1983, p. 271)? Cooke (1988) is less tentative than Judd in his conclusions: Faced with the doubts that seem to me to characterize English as a world language, I would argue that as teachers of EFL we need to be very aware of the potential dangers of English, and take them into account in preparation and teaching. (p. 60)”—Bronwyn Norton Peirce, Toward a Pedagogy of Possibiliy in the Teaching of English Internationally
someone just told me that with the adviser i have, i can volunteer in an ESL classroom as my capstone (something i have to do to graduate). I hope i can do that, because that sounds absolutely PERFECT for me. Especially since i want to do TEFL after i graduate.
keep in mind, graduation is a little over a year and a half away.
bummer, i know.
5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Teaching Abroad
If you have the opportunity to teach during your year abroad, it’s something I would definitely recommend. I’ve been lucky enough to both study and teach abroad, and both are very different experiences. Here are some reasons why, if you have the option, you should consider teaching abroad.
There are programs which support it
I am doing this through the British Council Comenius Program, I get paid to be out here and it’s plenty to help with living costs. If you do the ELA (English Language Assistant) program, you’re also entitled to the ERASMUS grant, so you’re essentially getting more money than if you were studying which means more money for travelling!
One thing that stressed me out about France was passing exams at the end of term, which meant that my last few weeks were spent inside studying. When you’re assisting like I am, you turn up to classes, do some prep work for more classes (which shouldn’t be much if you’re just assisting) and the rest of your time you can do what you want.
"Wait...Mexico...you mean NEW Mexico right?"
Probably my most common response when I tell people I’m moving south of the border.
In this blog my aim is to give you as candid an account I can of my preparation and eventual move to Mexico. So I guess to start out I will answer some of the most common questions I’ve been getting about this whole adventure!
#1) Why Mexico?
Why not Mexico! Mexico has such rich history that is living and breathing in every city, big or small. It has mountains, deserts, forests, oceans….it has a people that embrace old traditions in a very modern and developed society. (Yes my American friends, I called Mexico modern. It has vast cities with skyscrapers….even 4G cellphone service!)
All of the people I’ve had the pleasure to get to know that call Mexico home have been warm, accepting, and inviting. Things I feel like America has lost a grip of in the last few decades. (At least in New England)
Another reason for my move is that of physics. An object of motion, stays in motion…and having spent almost my entire life in the 603….I’m not moving anywhere. The travel bug bit me hard when I went on a missions trip to Costa Rica in 2004. Ever since then I’ve known that I needed to see every inch of this beautiful place we call earth. This wanderlust only increased when I spent a month in Guatemala building houses. I saw such a rich depth in the people of Central America and I knew that a return to this part of the continent was mandatory. Unavoidable. Like the force of a small sun, all of the factors in my past experiences and present circumstances, combined together to pull me back south! But this time I wanted a new adventure. And the choice was clear. Mexico.
#2)Is it safe?
Mexico, like any country has it’s problems. Most of the crime in Mexico is drug related, and segregated along the northern border, where the drugs are trafficked over to America. Since I’m not planning on getting involved in any work outside the classroom…classrooms not located in this part of the country, I feel comfortable in my decision to go.
#3) What will you do?
I will be spending four weeks getting my TEFL certificate in Guadalajara, Mexico. During this time I’ll be living with a family in the city and commuting to my school which is located in the beautiful colonial district of the town. The TEFL certificate is open to anyone to take. Once you have this certification you can teach English as a second language anywhere in the world!! Mongolia to Morocco the world is your oyster! The particular program I’m signed up with has guaranteed job placement, so after completion I’ll be trying to find a school a little farther north. Most teaching contracts are for a year so I’ll at least be down in Mexico that long.
#4) When will you go?
I’m currently waiting to hear back from a missions trip opportunity this summer. If I get into the program I’ll be traveling to (hopefully) Peru for the summer, delaying my move till August 26th. If I don’t get into the missions trip I’ll be leaving June 6th. Of this year, yes. In the meantime I’m taking night courses in Spanish and rallying all the things I’m going to need to get sorted out come summer!
Using my EFL skills already...
I just had my first experience of using my EFL skills to try and explain to someone who didn’t speak any English that Neung’s bar isn’t opening today…
I’m currently staying in Neung’s apartment at the back of his bar cause our house in Bang Yai is flooded and Neung is not here and one of his workers who is Burmese just turned up expecting to work tonight and he doesn’t speak English at all. Only Burmese and a very tiny bit of Thai. In the end I had to use my EFL skills and explain to him that the bar was closed. I think he got it… I hope so anyways!