Carlos Sousa





My teaching approach

My future as a teacher.

 

When i think of my future as a teacher is inevitable to think of my own experience as a student. My interest in each different subjects through the years with different teachers, changed all the time, in consequence of many factors such as the environment that surrounded me, my age, the level, the school system and the teacher it self.

 

I’ve had good and bad experiences and i’ve learned with both of them. I still keep in mind the good ones as role models, they were very useful in my life in different moments. To this  TEFL course interview i was asked this same question, how i see me as a teacher, and i replied that i remember my teachers as good examples i want to follow. I frequently find myself thinking in a particular portuguese teacher, Mrs Isabel Gata China remembering her passion, her dedication and care to us students. After doing this course i can distinguish some roles that Mrs Isabel Gata China had in the classes, she was definitely a guide and a playmaker mainly, she always knew where we were and how to take us to the next level, using very intelligent ways to guide us trough the class, organizing everything in the way that no one would be left out, and get to the goal as a group. I can also say that the role of agony hunt was present as we always saw her as a shoulder that we could ‘’cry on’’, expressing our feelings and fears without being judged. By that time i asked myself many times why i didn't like portuguese classes before i met her. If it was great. Well, i did like my teacher and i felt her passion and vocation on teaching which for me is very important when we are in a learning process. As the learning process is affected by students attitude and personality factors, it is in the hand of the teacher to notice and help to handle this obstacles. In my case, this teacher always had time to give us a word in the end of the class, in the break, taking care of us. She is extremely intelligent and dedicated in the way she gives her classes and deals with different students in class. Definitely she is a role model for me.

 

When i see me as a teacher, i’m very close to her method. But with my experience in previous jobs as team leader where i had to pass my knowledge and had to guide a team to a specific goal keeping them motivated, my role is pretty close to the psychologist too, also having other roles coming naturally depending on the situations. In the end teachers must have a little bit of every role, and with experience it will be used in the right moment in a spontaneous way, it will be a natural thing if you care for your work and people that you work with.

 

People are changing everyday, during the day, i have to be able to adapt my teaching methods at every moment, depending on how the students are reacting, their age, number of people in class… In order to be able to control the students its very important the distribution of the class and my position in it. So i can be close to them and not seem like a  figure of authority that just give orders like old methods. A teacher needs to understand the students in order to interpret their reactions so the class can be adapted and the goals achieved, using the right method in every situation. Always being well prepared for every class in advance.

 

About students levels, usually the schools have students levels distributed in advance and if i need to evaluate them by myself i would start with a direct question to the student like: ‘’ Did you have english classes before?’’; ’’What is your level?’’. From these initial 5/10 minutes of conversation, i would build my report about the student level and be able to determinate the level. I should pay attention to their grammar and vocabulary usage, pronunciation and fluency. I could always use some activities to determinate the same.

 

We know that children learn by repetition, observing the environment around them and repeating what they ear, that is how we learn L1 before we can read or write. Preparing a class for young learners, i would focus in the Total Physical Response and suggestopedia methods, that i think are more intuitive for learners. These methods will be motivating for  young students, they will learn a second language as they learn the first, what its intuitive. They will observe and perform actions learning at the same time, it is a fun way to engage students. With a slower pace, using art, drawing, painting, games, story telling will be a must have in class. Keeping clear and simple instructions combining with arts, knowing my students, we will have an great atmosphere, keeping the young students busy and engaged, expressing themselves while they learn a L2. Using art in class i think its a good way to know our environment and spot any possible obstacle in the learning process.

Even tough i don’t think i should stick to one method and should always be able to adapt to every day situations.

 

With teenagers and adults a few things will be adapted, its a totally different crowd but in the end the essence is the same. Having a good environment, a proper class distribution to get students attention, using art and games, we would all enjoy it right? I should always be aware of the students needs, why are they learning english, which are their previous experiences, which habits that include listening/reading english, if they will study at home, their interests, etc., according to every age/class. The teenagers and adults may require more attention to these details as methods and approaches tend to be more specific to the different environments that surround them and the different goals to achieve. Probably the methods like the Berlitz, suggestopedia, communicative and oxbridge will be more present, and the use of the silent way method at the end of each class so they can express freely.

Depending on the level and purpose the methods can be combined in the same class in a progressive way in order to achieve our goals.

 

In general, in a beginner level i would include more structure and vocabulary activities, and progressively include more topic activities when students are more confident with the L2, like in the Oxbridge method based on the Triangular Projection Model. Again, one only approach or method won’t be successful by itself. I should be able to see the big picture and adapt when needed.

A higher level will be more challenging to teach but equally fun and rewarding. This students are more independent, i can be more creative and explore more approaches. Here the TTT is lower comparing with beginners and the pace will be faster, as they tend to be more confident. In higher levels we probably find more students that want to learn for specific propose, intensive or for specific categories, for example to improve grammar, vocabulary, writing, etc.

 

The activities will include pairs and group work, where students can explore and express themselves more in a freely way while i will be focusing on their mistakes/errors, correcting them depending on the context, on the moment or taking notes to correct later.

For these activities i would use games, art, cards, stories, debates, dialogues, etc. The board itself i think i would use it more in higher levels were there is more balance between receptive and productive skills, where the students have a bigger need to be more accurate writing and reading. The L1 could be included in some specific situation as when translating to L1 to check students understanding, asking for the equivalent in L1, accept ing the answers in L1 and reformulate them into english. The usage of L1 in class can benefit the students in the way of keeping them motivated, to encourage to participate more when the vocabulary is low.

 

Preparing my classes, no matter the level/age, its extremely important so i have my syllabus structured with clear objectives in order to achieve our goals. The syllabus must include the learning goals, objectives per level, the content distribution per session and distribution of classes within a period of time. I imagine that most schools have already a structured syllabus, usually textbooks teachers must follow, but this can be an error, as there are many factors affecting the teaching process and one book can’t have all the answers for a successful teaching. I must be sure that the book is adapted correctly in order to perform a good and successful work using it as a guide. I should always use my creativity to bring different material to classes so it is engaging to the students. A syllabus can be compared, in my opinion, to a subway map where we can know the direction we are going to, the time that we will take, the previous and following stations as a guide. As it happens with the subways, the classes sometimes have delays, which can be boring and have other obstacles, that the teachers should be prepared to overcome.

 

I could give an example of each syllabus, but it would depend on many situations like the school system, students, age, country, level, type of courses, etc.

The same for the lesson planning, but in general, like the name suggests, a teacher should have the class planned and well prepared. When preparing a class i would think of engaging material/activities, to allow students to have time to practice and use the language in other contexts. Every activity should contain a time frame, starting with QQ and introductions so students know that they are in a English class, going through activities to activate the TL, the CCQ and finally the wrap up which is also very important so the students have the feeling of closure and clear idea of what they have learned in the class.

For me, a well planned and prepared lesson will be my tools for teaching a specific subject successfully. I should have enough material to teach a whole class, to avoid boring moments adapting it according to the class pace. For example in case students do not respond to the activities, i’ll be able to change it in a active way continuing the learning process.

 

Now to wrap up, i think i will be a intuitive teacher learning everyday with myself, my colleagues, my students and everything that surrounds me. Using all my abilities in class, my creativity specially with younger students. I know that I'm able to understand the needs of other people and how to engage in something as important as learning english.

Carlos Sousa



Barcelona, Beijing, seoul, Bangkok

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