How Personal Language Learning Experience Helps in Teaching
According to my experience, there are two stages when learning a foreign language. I am a Mandarin native speaker. Learning English is my foreign language experience. The first stage of my English learning experience was in my childhood. Learning English is an obligation in primary school, secondary school and high school. In my opinion, in this obligatory education, our learning curve is limited. The second stage of my English learning process was as an international student in England. It was a tremendous improvement in my English learning path. I would say it is like the ESA lesson but it lasts longer than one lesson!
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nina S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The first stage of my foreign language experience was the foundations of my English. I would say that this first stage of my learning process was quite difficult to be highly motivated. Normally, children in primary school are curious about everything, including me. I was also exploring different interests in this world. It is like the Engage Phase of ESA lesson. During the first section, it starts to make me know a bit of English, understand it is a different language from my language and see the difference between them. In the class, the teaching style was more casual, and I got more interests with it because in this stage it was not about teaching but more about our engagement with the English language.
By the time I grew up, the ESA lesson is coming to the Study Phase. It probably happened between late primary school until high school. In the study phase, we have been drilling by lots of grammatical knowledge and vocabulary. However, the experience in this section was not too enjoyable. Every country has a different system of education. We focus on results instead of the process. The results for the study phase are to present what we learned to the exam. Teachers at school are teaching receptive skills and productive skills 50% of the time. We learned reading and writing but we clearly had a lack of practicing in listening and speaking due to the majority of exams being in reading. At least we gained enough knowledge to complete the exams.
After the Study Phase section, I jumped into the Activate Phase section – being an international student in England. As I mentioned earlier, I was able to complete the exams with my 50% English skills, but I found it is hard to explain myself as I wanted in here. So, in this environment of English speakers, I had no another solution to force myself speaking English and show what I learned through my English learning experience and put it into practice. Due to the fact that I was an international student and lived in a foreign country, I had a strong motivation to make myself a part of English society. That is the reason why I improved tremendously my foreign language learning experience.
Through this experience, I understood that being a foreign student was not always easy. I probably would not agree that a good teacher makes you a good student. I will give a statement – the right teacher makes a good student. Inspiration is one of the elements to open the learning path of the students. Not only to inspire their interests but also to help them engage in the language. A teacher might follow the ESA lesson guide in the class every time, but they also need to encourage students to find a connection with the language. When I was a student myself, my biggest fear was to not have a connection with my teacher. The motivation can be encouraged, the vocabulary can be learned, and the grammatical problems can be solved. However, without the connection between students and teachers, it would be difficult to make that happen in the class. Now that I am a teacher and I stand in front of students, I remember having been through their position. It gives me more empathy resulting in a better understanding of my students.
Do you want to teach English abroad?
Finally, I have been lucky to have this experience and learning English abroad. However, without the English basics learned in my home country, I would not have been able to build up my language foundations, neither to improve myself in any way. Demonstrating my foreign language learning experience into the teaching skills will be venerable for my teaching career.
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