How did This TEFL Course Improve My Personal Teaching Experience?
Having been professionally teaching for a year now, this course provided me with a lot of new information, which I can incorporate in my teachings of the English language. I am not able to narrow down to a specific unit within this course because every unit had some information which I was not familiar with prior; however, I would have to say the units that stood out to me the most were: theories, methods, and techniques, managing classes, and teaching special groups. I currently teach students ranging from ages 4-12, and these three units, in particular, helped me to better understand the different levels of students, how to teach each level accordingly, the ESA lesson plans and the different styles, how to give students feedback and what techniques to use when correcting any mistakes, how to best manage the class dependent on the rapport between teacher and student, and among many other things that I did not quite have a clear outline to before this course.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Maribel V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Rapport Building Principles
As I was taking the course, I was able to apply some of my newfound knowledge throughout my lessons. I adjusted how I established rapport with the students, given the ideas provided by the unit, by making introductions more personable and utilizing icebreakers. I also created a better atmosphere for the students in which they can ask me questions, which in turn helped with managing the class better throughout the lesson. I increased my use of gestures and provided more positive feedback when mistakes were made. The best technique that came forth was asking other students to help the student with words or sentences, and the students really enjoyed taking part in putting sentences or finding the right word together. I incorporated board-work when the students are paired to help each other but are still having difficulty; this later allows the class to work together as a whole to find the correct answer. Student talking time has increased immensely with my new approach given the information I have learned throughout this course, and I can see the eagerness from more of my students when they are given the chance to speak freely in learning the English language.
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Due to teaching younger students, many of my learners fall within the absolute beginner, false beginner, or young beginner categories. I would say that this has been one of the more challenging areas of my teaching career because when in a class where all of these types of beginners are a part of a 30-minute time-framed lesson, it becomes quite difficult to cater to all of the students’ needs. Bearing in mind what their motivation might be and how much English they have been exposed to before the lesson, I try to gather data during the introductory phase in which I get to know a little about them and vice versa. I work on a lot of visual activities, choral repetitions, and pair-work throughout these type of lessons to ensure all the students are understanding and retaining the content; I tend to ask them questions about what they see, and, dependent on the purpose of the lesson that day, I ask them to use it in a sentence. This will usually entice a stronger student to help if the weaker student is having difficulty; I tend to acknowledge the strong student and ask them to wait and allow the weaker student to try with me before he or she asks for help. In turn, I’ve come to realize that the weaker students have appreciated me in doing this because they don’t feel the pressure from the class since we are doing it together before other students are called upon for help.
Individual Teaching Approach
Very seldom do I have individual students, but it is definitely a fun experience when I am scheduled one. I appreciate the relationship established with individual lessons. Though, as referenced in unit 19, many teachers comment on the loss of classroom dynamics, I tend to see it as quite a positive challenge. Getting to understand an individuals’ needs and being a partner in learning the language can be quite fun, and it can provide the teacher with practice with regards to many different teaching techniques as applicable or possible with one student. Many of the activities provided in the unit gave me a good overview to incorporate into my individual lessons. I now tend to ask the student what they learned during the lesson and what they liked about the lesson. This type of feedback, if time permits, helps me gather data as to what type of activities would help students develop better understanding and retention of the English language, and what type of activities they might enjoy more throughout their lessons.
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Being able to teach while taking this course was very fruitful in my development as a teacher, for it has challenged my teaching style and improved it in ways that I don’t believe I would have been able to do on my own. The information and recommendations from each unit are very useful in that they provided me with a broader understanding of my students and allotted me with ideas to incorporate in my lessons and make a more fun and engaging lesson plan for my students. My teaching experience has now evolved from being the new teacher to a teacher that has options to best cater to my students who are learning English as a second or foreign language and make that experience a memorable one.
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