Fulltime TEFL Language

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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:

C.G. South Korea said:
Cultural sensitivity in the classroom Teachers of English as a Second Language have the responsibility of being academically qualified and prepared to teach language learners about the various components of English; however, they also have the responsibility of being culturally sensitive towards the values and perspectives maintained by their students. In order for education to be effective, teachers must create a rapport with their students. Respect and trust between the teacher and his or her students is as invaluable to ensuring educational success as good teaching methodologies. In fact, one might argue that if a teacher is not aware of and sensitive towards the cultural values present within a given society, then the students? actual capability to learn from the teacher is severely precluded. As Stephen J. Hall (2003) notes, ?A useful starting point to applying cultural awareness to language learning is to recognize that we carry our own cultural values to any learning? (p. 252). For instance, I lived in America for 30 years prior to moving to my current location, which is Daegu, South korea. The 30 years that were spent in America indelibly shaped my perspectives, of what I view as right, wrong, humorous, polite, etc. While some of these might be shared with my students who are native to Daegu, I must be aware that they might not share the same cultural values that I have. What does it mean, however, to be ?sensitive? to the cultural makeup present within the classroom? The paragraph above notes that that cultural values might differ; however, it is important that teachers know how values transition into pragmatic behaviors. In an attempt to succinctly describe what ?culture? is, Ismail Cakir (2006) writes that, ?It [e.g., culture] is the ?glue? that binds a group of people together? It governs our behavior in groups, makes us sensitive to matters of status, and helps us to know what others expect of us and what will happen if we do not live up to those expectations? (p. 155). Being sensitive to another culture, then, requires us to understand the link between what a people value and how that translates into various behaviors. As teachers of the English language, it behooves us to understand that language is fundamentally a product and sustainer of culture. Hence, when we teach English, we are exposing our students to a new cultural component for their lives. Given that 1.) language is an essential element to a culture and 2.) exposure to a new language inherently means exposure to a new culture, we should not be surprised when students misuse or do not fully understand how to use English. Cakir (2006) makes a keen insight when he writes, ?students learning a foreign language have to assimilate many new categorizations and codifications if they are to understand and speak the language as its native speakers do? (p. 156). Furthermore, being culturally sensitive does not merely translate into respecting differences of thinking and/or behaving. Rather, teachers should seek to both understand and utilize the different components in the students? culture when teaching them English. For instance, my musical cultural background consists of jazz, bluegrass, and folk music. However, the majority of my students find such musical genres as boring; their interests are geared towards the up-tempo styles of K-pop and American hip-hop. Rather than trying to impose my own cultural norms onto the students, I should utilize their cultural norms as a means of teaching English. Furthermore, doing so communicates to the students that I understand their values, that I respect their values, and that I do not want to force my own values on to them. Hall (2003) reminds us that, ?It is in questioning and accepting difference that one builds understanding. Through understanding the complexity of cross cultural communication, there is hope beyond the ignorance which plagues much international decision making? (p. 255). Being aware of differences in culture?both what the teacher brings to the classroom as well as what the students bring?is one of the most important factors in creating a genuine, respectful, and trusting relationship with your students. Building such a relationship enables the students to find the teacher approachable and personable, and it will eliminate many miscommunication obstacles that prevent students from learning. And, if we are a source for preventing our students from learning, then we are doing the precise opposite of what we had set out to do?enabling students to learn to their greatest capacities. References: Cakir, Ismail. (2006). ?Developing culture awareness in foreign language teaching.? Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education. Vol. 7, no. 3. pp. 155-161. Hall, Stephen J. (2003). ?Look, question and learn: a cultured view of spoken English learning.? The English Teacher. Vol. 6, no. 3. pp. 251-258.

 

 

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