Essay for Teaching Skills Module, Oxbridge TEFL course Turku, 26 July 20, 2015
TEACHING ENGLISH IN TERO WAY
Studying English is a project that should be effective and enjoyable to the students. I am a child of the times when studying and teaching were really schematic PROCESSES and every class WAS followed through with the same, exhausting pattern. It was collective stupidity. All the enjoyment of learning was gone and student part was to read and remember. Most frustrating and ineffective way indeed. Joy of learning was gone as well as enthusiastic teachers. I have seen this and my objective is to destroy this nonsense and give my students what they deserve and sensous prosess of learning this lovely language. This is my method and my objective is to change the thinking about studying – revolutionary.
I have already some experience of teaching English to Spaniards. I gave lessons, both for the classes and one-to-one in the city of Valencia. In my former life I worked as an international representative for a big association. I have done lots of teaching in any possible subtances, but not never in languge classes. I am also experienced journalist, so a language and especially fluency is very essential to me. Accuracy comes second, but naturally as a professional writer it is absolutely important in published articles. But as a teacher I want my students to enjoy and LEARN.
The big words in my methods are acquisition and communication. The questions I heard often in my youth were: do you know the Enlish grammar? Have you studied the vocabulary? etc. So the teachers were interested in how much work and study have I done on my own at home! That kind of approach leads only a dead end and only some students learn and stay motivated. The right question is: Do you speak English? Very “rewarding” indeed. The speaking is the key word. The communicative approach must be the leading principal in the teaching classes. I studied 6 years of Swedish without knowing or studying how to speak. That is not the way. Aquiring the new language is different process as learning (lists of words, grammatical nuances). We cannot really communicate in English without aquiring the language. So we have skill to use the language without any fear or shyness. That is teachers duty number one to encourage. If the teacher is lazy and without motivation and enthusiasm, the classes will be the old style without passion and the joy of learning this great language. Speaking English should be the aim of every single class, in every single activity.
So how to make the students communicative, not just language analyzers? As I stated before, speaking second language is a method I will follow in my classes. If one can speak out a word or a sentence, he propably can write it too. A structure of every class will be the same, but communicative. I must aim to help the learners to develop communicative competence. From the absolute beginners to advanced classes the communcation in the classroom is the most meaningful part of the session. In other words the classes are communication from the beginning to the end.Teacher’s part is to plan the classes in the way that the acquisition is working trough all the leaners. Remember always that the studying is usually hard and time-consuming process, learning entails easiness.
How to handle the class inside the Tero way of teaching. Your attitude in the beginning is the essential for the athmosphere in the class and your personal contact with the students. The first appearance takes place and affects most, maybe far into the future. Some routines that I follow and have noticed to be functional. Your physical appereance and habitus. This depends a lots of the group of students or the client of one-to-one class. Look clean and wear nice clothes. Suit is usually too much and makes a distant appearance. You are not to supposed to be any kind of autorative leader, but an easy to approach person. Clean but cool. The objective is that the students feel that you are king one of them and easy to speak to. It is important, because we are aiming now to the communicative atmosphere that is light and without anxiety. You must start always with smile and making the eye contact. Students must have sensation, that you are interested and respected in them as individuals and you are important to him. The most introvert needs a lots of couragement to communicate, extrovert students cannot dominate the class, though they are important as well. But consider the sitting order that the silent ones cannot hide in the corner behind the class. Be a special friend with them!
The many roles of the teachers in the class is a big part of Tero-way classes. First you are the leader and the inspirator. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal. You must be a one guy with others. That’s how it works and you create communicative ambience with all your lovely teaching group. You have many roles that you can face, more if you have confidental relationship with the students. For me the most important roles are a guide and organiser. I must lead an courage. Playmaker is such a good expression, one of my favorites. The teacher understands that his role is of enormous importance, but his talk has to be descrete.Even tought the teacher guides, it is the srtudents that have to “score the coals” in class. Psuchologist is one role that teacher must have on all the time to guide the goup through the intuition. Converstionalist is the maybe most important role for me as an Oxbridge teacher but as well a teacher of my own style. Always have a good topic to conversate and everything else is arranged on the side. Love is what you need!
There are many models about the structure of the single class. And the Oxbridge method is usable and a frame with right direction. Allways pay attention if there is a special thing or activity the class loves to do, use it frequently. They will enjoy the class and you will get along better when you are loved. The issues for the classes are also important. With interesting issue e.g. current happening in politics or in the Royal family are usually good. Issues that raises always conversation like nuclear power or the uneployment and corruption are good for adults. Then we have classes that consists of young learners. Then the issues must be naturally totally different and be interesting to them. Like young popstars, relationships between boys and girls and so on. Every different classes need to be prepared in their own terms. This needs some orientation and work from the teacher. It is important to sense the atmosphere in new class. Most important is to find out the level of the students, so you can start the effective communication in the stundentgroup from the first session. And you must transmit the positive and useful elements to your students. As teachers we will always try to project the best of us to our students.
The macic word for an English teacher is a preparation. The good preparation was the procedure that helped me trough my classes when I started my teaching action in Valencia 2009. I used the preparation to cover my lack of experience. I had usually very good and rewarding relationship wit my one-to-one clients. I just first interviewd them first to know what do they need and of course I folloved their requests. Almost oll of my cliens were very happy to my methods and they told me that they really learned while they enjoyed the sessions. I also had bigger classes and I really uset time on the preparation. It was time-consuming and hard to me. I prepared every lession separately. But now I know I was in right track in my profession and my planning. The lession planning is always the most important concrete thing the teaher must do. An very important if you use Oxbridge method. Unprepared teacher is unmotivated and show bad example to his students. That’s unforgiveable. And arrogant behavior. Not for a passionate teacher, not for learning. Don’t let your lovely students down.
Using texbooks as a trunk of the class. I have tried this on my own. I ordered the Cambridge material; textbooks, practice books and teachers books. I planned my one-to-one lessions in the beginning using these books methods. I am not recommending this to anyone. I had good connection with my students and I actively noticed their needs and tried first to proceed according to these books. Then I of course created my own material and my own style practices. So those books were so exhaustinly detailed and has planned with the thought that everyone follow them letter by letter and assumed that all have done and learnet that the book orders. No, I did not follow the book. I created my own practises so I was in trouble. I must give up the (expensive) pile of books and create my own tests and practices. And it worked! I carried out kind of Oxbridge style teaching before being aware of it.
Hardest students and managing with them. I agree that the mos challenging group is the absolute beginners. Ans especially the adult learners. Because the most important in my method is to communicate and learn to express yourself by speaking, the shyest students, if we talking about opening mouth are beginners. Big guestion is how to engourage students to speak. Oxbridge offers many gags and trick how we can staart free communication. Of course we are talking here again the attitude of the teacher. Our duty is to create the best circumtances to all students to take part. There are usually te extroverts that doesn’t feel any shame to say something. It is good as long as the quiet students are shy because of dominant students. Then teacher can for exemple cting out dialogues and make it easier and encourage to all take part. Then the student might find the topic unitresting. So your job as a teacher is to renew the issues to interesting ones.
Each one of your students is important. The more introvert the more important. You need to just love your profession and be enthusiastic. Shine!