What is the best thing I have learned from my TEFL/TESOL course
The best thing I have learned from my TEFL course is the ESA method. I discovered this method in Lesson 2 of our course which, for me, is one of the best and useful lessons in the whole course.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Horacio A.
In my previous experience, I had learned most of the methodologies explained in Lesson 2, but I had never had the chance to know about this method before. ESA stands for Engage-Study-Activate, the three stages or phases of this method. This method was introduced in 1998 by Jeremy Harmer. It is the most dynamic and creative method, suitable to any level. It is an eclectic method, because it combines the best of previous methodologies used in language pedagogy.
To make this method more productive, you must use the three versions of this method: the "Straight-Arrow" version of ESA, the "Boomerang" sequence: E, A, S, E and the "Patchwork" sequence of a lesson: EAASASEA, etc.
Why is this variation important?
Because if we insist on using only the original version (ESA), the activities could become very predictable for the students, and the method could become boring and tiring for them after using it for a while. The variation indicated above, will keep this methodology more dynamic, interesting, fresh and exciting in front of the students.
The Engage Phase
The three stages of this methodology are equally important, however, teachers have freedom to put a marked emphasis in any of these stages. We all know how important the role of the Engage Stage is because that stage marks the emphasis, or the effort to involve all the students in their language learning experience. Teachers must plan to keep all the students motivated and excited about all activities they are going to participate in this stage, as well in the next two stages (Study and Activate), including the multiple variations teachers can make of this method.
The emphasis is to warm up the students and keep them involved, and prepare them to participate actively in the coming activities planned ahead of time, asking thought-provoking questions to find out how much the students already know about the language they are learning, and what they need to learn. To provoke these conversations the teacher can use: realia, pictures, games, music, interesting photos, etc.
The Study Phase
In the Study Stage of this method, is where we can include some of our traditional ways of teaching we were accustomed to before. The emphasis is placed in the language structures we are introducing our students, keeping in mind that we must elicit, whenever possible, the examples of these grammar structures from the students. One important thing to keep in mind is that teachers should encourage the students talking time by eliciting and prompting examples from the students. In this case, teachers feel free to use any resource they have learned to achieve this purpose: using prompts, worksheets, gap filling exercises, etc. as well as, drilling exercises (orally or individually) to practice the pronunciation of the new grammar structures introduced to the students. Another idea is to practice spelling using: hangman, crosswords, word search, etc. A final idea in this section is to allow students to correct themselves, or using student-student corrections, rather than you are correcting them directly.
The Activate Phase
The Activate Stage is one of the most exciting, because we will see the students fully involved as if they were native speakers of the second language (L2) they are learning. Even when the teacher participation is reduced to a minimum, the success of this stage will depend from how well the teacher has prepared, ahead of time, all the activities planned to be carried out in this stage: the role plays, the survey forms, mill-drill exercises, story building, role play cards; and the different ways the students should be organized: in pairs, small groups, moving these groups around, and preparing them for a final feedback of these activities. During the pre-preparation of these activities, as well as during the performance of the students, teachers should keep in mind that the emphasis of this stage is fluency, where the students should be freely involved in a natural way as if they were talking in their first language (L1).
ESA for the win!
Finally, the most rewarding experience for the teacher is to see all his/her students participating fluently and naturally in all these activities planned with the minimum effort, energy or intervention of the teacher; while the students are involved in these presentations, the teacher has the option to participate with them as a member of any of these groups organized. One important thing the teacher can do during this stage, is to be a good observer, and to take notes of any weakness or mistakes of the students, without interrupting the flow of these activities, with the purpose of planning next activities and worksheets for another Study Stage.
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