Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones TEFL certificate Rachel Jones TEFL certificate


PROFILE


I absolutely love learning and I think everyone else can love it too! In my opinion, the only reason most people do not like to study is because they have never been taught in an engaging enough way. Therefore, I actively try to create personalised activities for students by breaking down the barriers that the normal student/teacher relationship involves. I see myself as a resource and a guide rather than an authority figure and in this way, students feel more comfortable making mistakes and they learn from those mistakes. I have been told by other teachers that my biggest strength when teaching is my ability to build a good rapport with students quickly and I am immensely proud of this. I prefer the Direct Method approach because when teaching I like to create a communicative atmosphere in my class which encourages students to speak. I think that constant exposure to the target language in class is the best way to get students to think in that language and to progress quicker. However, I also like using the specialised tools from the Silent Way Method, such as the sound-colour chart, the Fidel chart and Cuisenaire rods. I think that these tools are the most effective way to teach pronunciation, spelling and grammar in a highly visual way that reduces teacher talking time.


PROJECTS


I am fully competent in all Microsoft Office programs and can type 70wpm. I am also able to speak Spanish at an intermediate level. I enjoy singing very much and have been classically trained. I am part of a Gospel Choir at my university and love rehearsing with them on a weekly basis. We usually tour the country and have performed at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I try to bring this part of myself into my classes by creating rhymes or short songs which help students to remember difficult grammar points or pronunciation differences between nouns and verbs.


I have recently graduated from the OxbridgeTEFL 4 week in-person course. During this I studied the different methodologies regarding teaching languages and I also had the opportunity to both teach many classes, putting elements of those methodologies into practice, and to observe approaches that other teachers took in their classes. I prepared the lesson plan and material for the classes I taught during this course to a high standard which made sure that the classes all ran smoothly. In addition to this experience, I have also spent many years in the United Kingdom preparing students for their GCSE English and Mathematics exams. It is always challenging getting teenagers excited about learning, especially outside of the school environment. However, I found that my enthusiastic and personalised approach meant that I was able to build such a good rapport with my students that they began to take a real interest in what I had to say. After managing to engage them, through carefully crafted activities, I saw significant improvement in both their behaviour in lessons with me, and in their performance. Furthermore, I also have some more recent experience working with teenagers and adults with SEN (Special Educational Needs) as part of my role as Student Studies Support Officer at Royal Holloway University of London. In this role I support dyslexic and severely disabled students to study and have to employ a range of interesting methods and techniques which make every class an exciting challenge. For example, I have a severely dyslexic student with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). When I am helping this student to study I have to use yellow paper with blue ink (as this makes it easier for him to read the words we write down) and I choose to implement a variety of activities from the Total Physical Response method to help him to remember key words or concepts from his course material.



I have also worked as an Academic Facilitator for the London School of Marketing which is an educational establishment in Victoria (London) that offers both professional and academic courses in business and marketing. Whilst here I worked in education from an administrative perspective. I dealt with all student communications, booked rooms for classes, engaged with current lecturers, interviewed potential lecturers, dealt with coursework submissions, invigilated exams, and a variety of other administrative duties.


I have attained 5 A, and 5 A* grades at GCSE (General Certificate of Higher Education) in secondary school. I then achieved 2 B, 1 A, and 2 A* grades at A Level. Also, I am currently and undergraduate at Royal Holloway University of London studying English Literature.

My teaching approach

My approach to teaching English as a foreign language

There is nothing quite as wonderful as watching that ‘lightbulb’ moment in your students’ eyes when they suddenly understand something new. My personal motivation for teaching is to facilitate these special moments in my students because, as a student myself, I understand how important these are for personal development, and building confidence.  My objective is to guide my students to communicate fluently in English with as much accuracy as possible. I see my role as a teacher in three ways: as a guide, a needs analyst and a conversationalist. I feel that it is my duty to impart knowledge in a way that allows students to take responsibility for their own learning, and to adapt my lessons according to their needs.

Approach

My approach is guided by the constructivist educational psychology theory that states contextualisation, elicitation of prior knowledge, and creation of strong associations are key to retaining knowledge. Therefore, I have chosen a communicative and participatory approach which involves using content in class that I know will interest my students. This approach fosters a class atmosphere that facilitates learning as a means of students expressing their interests. In this scenario, communication becomes a means to an end rather than an explicit task. This is similar to the way that a small child learns to communicate in their mother tongue to get their daily needs satisfied. An objective in all of my lessons is to guide communication and interaction both with and between students so that speaking in the target becomes increasingly naturally to them. Considering this, I strive to have the target language be the only language spoken in class. However, if there is a serious misunderstanding which cannot be resolved using the target language, then I would allow a minimal amount of the mother tongue in order to prevent confusion or the internalisation of errors. I would choose a structure-based syllabus as this offers a natural progression plan for students as they need increasingly complex structures to express their ideas as their vocabulary expands. However, I would use content-based and function-based activities to deliver this syllabus to make it more engaging.

Methodology

My methodology involves a combination of elements from three main methodologies. I mostly prefer the Direct Method for its oral and communicative focus, and its appreciation of the need to teach the language in context. I agree with its principle that using authentic material is important in increasing students’ exposure to the ‘real’ target language as opposed to limiting them to set phrases and responses, like in the Callan method. I adapt authentic material for intermediate students so that they are exposed to comprehensible input but in a more natural way than textbooks offer. I believe that grammar should be taught deductively as in the Grammar Translation Method. Grammar and vocabulary are the most important micro skills as these are the building blocks with which students are able to create meaningful sentences. Therefore, explicitly teaching structural points and then following these will examples, concept check questions, and finally a task in which students can create original output is the best method for teaching grammar. Using this procedure saves time on potentially confidence-shaking error correction. I also borrow elements of the Silent Way Method in teaching grammar, pronunciation, and spelling. Whilst I disagree with the repetitive and rigid approach that this method takes when exercised in full, I believe that the highly visual sound-colour charts, Fidel charts and cuiesinaire rods, are great ways of simply explaining very technical concepts in an engaging way, especially for visual intelligences. When teaching vocabulary, as per the Direct Method, I choose to introduce new target language in semantic fields, and encourage contextualisation through examples and realia. I give students the opportunity to negotiate the meaning of new vocabulary before defining it for them. I do this through using visual stimuli to suggest meaning, using the vocabulary in context, and trying to elicit prior knowledge. I consider speaking and listening to be the most important macro skills because these are used the most in daily life. Therefore, I encourage continuous use of the target language in classes, and a focus on communicative activities such as role-plays, and discussions. However, I also feel that some work is still required on reading and writing, especially for students learning for specific purposes such as in certain ESP classes like business English and English for academic purposes. Therefore, I would dedicate a small portion of each class to either a reading or writing exercise.

Consideration of Students

I encourage my students to take an active role in class as communicators and self-managers. I choose highly communicative activities that require students to produce and not simply imitate, such as debate activities. Furthermore, I foster a reflective environment in which students use progress diaries to record what they learn in each class, what they did well, and what they feel they would like to improve upon. This self-assessment activity gets students to better understand their strengths and weakness in order to progress faster. When correcting errors I try to limit TTT to encourage self-correction. I do this through using gestures or drawing visuals. To correct mistakes I use humour or I ask students to repeat what they said so they can notice their mistakes. When correcting serious errors I either repeat the sentence emphasising their mistake or I explicitly explain the mistake. Wherever possible I think self-correction is the best and most productive resolution as this has the least detrimental effect on students’ confidence and motivation.

Affective factors can have an enormous impact on students’ performance. Therefore, I try to limit environmental distractions by teaching in a quiet a place and by separating students who often distract or irritate each other. I try to motivate my students by being positive, enthusiastic, and using functional activities so that they feel they are learning for a purpose. When dealing with different personalities I always try to encourage shy students by building their confidence through asking questions that I know they know the answer to and using positive, but not patronising, reinforcement for participation. When there are dominant members in a group I take advantage of this by having that student model answers for weaker students. I also limit their talking time by asking other students for their opinion on what the dominant student has said.

Assessment

According to my methodology, formative assessment should take priority. I think that continuous assessment should be conducted in two main ways; self-assessment, and assessment by the teacher. Firstly, as mentioned above, I ask that all of my students complete a ‘student study diary’. I strongly believe this encourages students to be autonomous learners and keeps them focused. It also builds their confidence as they realise what they have achieved. Secondly, each lesson I ask a few students to prepare a short (3-5 minute) presentation for the start of the next class. This task involves the student actively seeking out exposure to the target language by looking for authentic material which relates to the areas covered in the lesson that day and describing the content to the class. I think this increases their intrinsic motivation to study as they can enjoy the culture of English-speaking countries. I assess the quality of the student’s delivery of their presentation, both fluency and accuracy, and then give the student feedback. I also fill out anecdotal notes during or after class so that I keep track of the students’ progress and make necessary adaptations to the syllabus if students need more or less work on certain issues. I chose these two methods to assess learning outcomes because they are consistent with my instructional practices. Furthermore, I think they provide a better overall picture of a student’s abilities than summative assessments. However, if I was preparing a student to sit a language proficiency exam then I would adapt my lesson plan to include some specific work on exam practice. This is because some exams are made harder by their format rather than the language skills required.

Adaptations

My overall approach can be applied to all levels and age groups providing that some slight adaptations are made. For children, I would choose shorter activities and make them more physical, and musical. This would make the class more dynamic so that I could retain the students’ attention better. For teenagers, I would ensure that all content is as up-to-date as possible because teenagers are generally much more interested in talking about ‘the latest thing’ as they do in their mother tongue outside of class as part of their social activities. For adults, I would plan more function-based activities as they are more likely to be learning for a functional purpose, like to work abroad in hospitality.  When adapting for different levels the main differences would be that I would teach grammar inductively to beginners and pre-intermediates, due to their limited vocabulary, and deductively to more advanced students. I would also make more extensive use of graded language and adapted materials in beginner and pre-intermediate classes than I would in more advanced classes. 

To exemplify how all of the elements I have mentioned above can be integrated, please see the below lesson plan for a sixty minute class for 6 intermediate adults working in tourism.

Topic: Space travel

Learning outcome: Students will be able to use the future simple tense accurately to describe a holiday in space.

Time (minutes)

Activity

5

Icebreakers

  • Whilst selected students are preparing to deliver their presentations ask the other students:
  • What did you do last week?
  • Who did you spend last Saturday with?
  • What was the number one song last week?

15

Review of previous lesson – Student Presentations

  • 2 students present and receive feedback/asked questions by peers.
  • Presentations based on authentic material using the past simple.

10

Structure activity – future simple.

  • Use a question to gauge and elicit prior knowledge, eg ‘Where will be the next top destination be for holidays?’
  • Explicitly explain the structure giving examples and using the cuisenaire rods.
  • Ask students to create their own sentences using the structure and the rods to substitute vocabulary.
  • Ask each student a question that requires production of the structure, eg. Where will you go on holiday next year?

10

Vocab activity –  Space travel

TL: Rocket ship, planets, space, to travel, aliens, dangerous, expensive, technological advancement

  • Students are shown images to relate to the words and have to guess the definition of the words. If they cannot guess then offer an explicit definition.
  • Students have to use the words in example sentences.
  • Students have to ask each other what they think it would be like to travel to space.

15

Topic activity

  • Introduce an authentic news article, about Virgin Rocket ships offering holidays to Mars, which has been shortened, and has had the language graded to the level of comprehensible input.
  • Students take it in turns to read a sentence or two each.
  • Brief discussion of the text and a chance for clarification of terms.
  • Students have to get into two teams and plan a pitch to sell a holiday in space to a family looking for something a little different.
  • Teams have five minutes to prepare and two minutes each to present.
  • The best pitch wins!

5

Wrap up.

  • Brief concept check questions.
  • Students fill in their progress diaries.
  • Presentations assigned.

 

In conclusion, I believe that emphasis on explicit and visual teaching of grammatical structures is the best way to provide a strong foundation from which students can build their ability to produce meaningful, and increasingly complex communication. Conversation, and participation are the prioritised goals of each lesson with structure acting as a support system for students to order their ideas, and convey meaning effectively. 



Anywhere via web classes. London for in-person classes.

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