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My Favorite Teaching Approach

My Favorite Teaching Approach | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I think to best address this question you need to know why I took this course. I am a USA certified teacher who arrived in China almost 6 years ago after a teacher in the Florida school system for 13 years. I was an ESE (Exceptional Student Education) certified, Middle School Math and Science teacher. When I first arrived, I assumed all the foreign teachers I worked with were also certified teachers.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jennifer K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

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My Story

I quickly discovered this was not true and began to experience working with TEFL/TESOL teachers. There was a distinct lack of understanding in many of these teachers as to the true role of a teacher in the classroom and of the different methodologies of value in these situations. To be clear the role of most foreign teachers doesn’t require the same stringent knowledge and understanding of the teacher’s role as in a “normal classroom. The position of most Foreign Teachers is either in a training center, Kindergarten, or another learning environment. Those who do teach in schools have schedules reflecting more of expanded tutoring set up, rather than a true classroom.

We don’t see our students every day, often only once a week. We mostly have upwards of 600 plus students and move from classroom to classroom having nowhere to establish a “learning center” as it were in our own space. Now as the Director of Foreign Teachers at my current school I am tasked with taking TEFL certified people with little to now experience and having them become teachers in my school. I have struggled with translating my Educational Certification and now 19 years’ experience into understandable bites for them to use and learn from. So, I took the course to learn what they are taught and to try to use their language to understand what I hope from them.

The course has been enlightening, to say the least, and I hope will make me a better manager. I have already begun to use some of the terminologies in reviewing my teachers in their monthly observation/review sessions.

Also Read: My Amazing Personal Teaching Experience

My Favorite Approach

My favorite part is the ESA basic lesson plan combined with the idea of a goal in mind with the lesson plan being the map to achieving that goal. The Engage, Study, Activate model is simple and yet highly effective for beginner teachers. As they become more experienced, I believe expanding that into the Boomerang of Patchwork will be an easy step for them. I have always suggested they start the lesson with what I call a warm-up, but now I can address this in the language they have hopefully already learned from their course. I love the reinforcement of not making grammar (or other unnecessary) corrections during this stage.

In our position, we need to encourage the students to interact with us, use what English they know and have fun doing it. I have often used Tongue Twisters or unique pictures for this activity. I have PowerPoints that define the words in the tongue twister so that it goes from just random sounds to a fun vocabulary lesson without any pressure or testing. For the unique pictures, I simply ask “what do you see?”, and continue to ask (and hint) until all points are covered, then together we make sentences describing the picture. While you state the Engage activity does not need to be relevant to the lesson (though all your samples show it as a portion of the lesson) I encourage the teachers to just have fun with the students based on the demographics of our students. They are generally rich students who are not highly motivated but will work for teachers they like. A fun opener that gets them talking is a great start to our lesson.

Also Read: Tips for Teaching Different Types of English Learning Groups

What I Recommend to New Teachers?

For the Study/Activate sections, you in general show another model that I encourage our newest teachers to follow: the modeling strategy “I do” “We do”, “You do”. Most show another “guided engagement” activity for the Study section, were we elicit some desired responses (towards the teaching goal), then we demonstrate how those responses work with the lesson we want to teach.

The next part of the Study activity often revolves around practicing the desired knowledge, working with the students to reinforce the understanding of the desired goals. And finally, the Activate sections allows the students to show us what they have learned. This basic format is wonderfully adaptable to almost any lesson. I discuss with my teachers, what do you want the students to do at the end? The Activate, then how can we get them there? What do we have to show them?..., what do we have to teach them?..., the Study. How do we interest them?.... The Engage.

Once they have this model down and can successfully create lesson plans that work with the students, to move on to Boomerang or Patchwork ESA lessons will be much easier as the end goals and methodology to get there are already well understood.

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There are other sections that I felt gave me some valuable lessons. But, the ESA model of lesson planning is the one that I feel was and is most valuable and will use the most in helping to train my TEFL certified teachers to become better teachers at my school.

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