From a young age I have always been the over enthusiastic, brave, unique character who talks too much, too loud or even too quickly. Since then I have grown into a people person and a clear communicator and I have learned to slow down. With that I have used my enthusiasm and communicative skills working in a range of professional environments, mostly working in Fashion wholesale responsible for the behind the scenes operations. In this industry I worked closely with and had dealings with people from all over the world, from a range of different cultures with many different languages spoken. My curiosity and want to learn more about the world outside of Australia had begun, I had a full steam ahead desire to travel and to experience living in, learning about and really becoming a part of a foreign culture.
I have now backpacked through Europe, parts of Asia and Mexico, of all the places I have visited, Spain has won my heart by far. After living with a family working as their Au Pair and teaching their family and children English, I absorbed the fact that people can learn very differently. This including myself, as I was beginning to learn Spanish. From there I really wanted to know more about how to teach people and to know more about the different ways that people learn.
There are numerous theory’s, methodologies and different approaches on how to teach and on how people learn or acquire a second language. During my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher training course, tied with my observations and experiences in co-teaching in this styled approach, it has really opened my eyes, I have found awareness and now formed my own ideas and approaches to teaching English as a second language.
Theory’s such as Behaviorism introduced in the 1950’s, which assumed human and animal learning behaviour were the same and therefore students were discouraged and immediate correction after a mistake was made and rewarded with a treat after correct outcomes. We’ve come a long way since then and are continuing to grow and learn, ourselves as teachers. I believe theories such as Constructivism which in my understanding is highlighting a student’s prior knowledge, skills and experiences and helping them to construct knowledge for themselves and teaching them to be in control of their own learning is a great theory and in my point of view this is nearby in attempting to mirror “First Language Acquisition.” The title is quite self-explanatory. To acquire something is to buy, obtain, learn or develop something and “first language” is the first language that you speak/ learn or acquire! First language acquisition is where a child learns their native language naturally in their home environment from birth.
Children who grow up in an English speaking environment will acquire only English.
children who grow up in an environment in which both German and English are spoken and heard equally they will acquire both German and English as their first languages. Acquisition occurs passively and unconsciously through hidden learning. In other words, children do not need explicit instruction to learn their first languages but rather seem to just "pick up" the language in the same way they learn to roll over, crawl, and walk. Language acquisition in children just seems to happen.
My goal as a teacher is to be motivated and to be a motivator. I want to ensure the students are primarily going to have an enjoyable, engaging and memorable experience whilst I am teaching and sharing my English knowledge. I think that sharing your knowledge with others in this world is one of the most significant things a person can do in their lives. Having said that, a students’ needs and their goals for wanting to learn English is extremely important and this is essentially going to be one of the reasons they will turn up to class, therefore I need them to in return share with me their goals. As a teacher I need to be aware of the different needs and reasons a student may have as ultimately this is my key to truly knowing what motivates and drives each student. Being conscious of their motivations will significantly help me in my role as their teacher in order to aid their self-confidence and keep their motivational levels at their peak.
I want help my students to learn English as a second language, not just because it’s an international language spoken in over 53 countries and they may require this as a form of business communication, to pass exams, build self-confidence or simply to fulfil their travel interests, I want them to essentially learn about my culture too.
I think this creates added interest, understanding for students to see into some of our English expressions and can also create a new teacher student dynamic which is really important for a teacher and a student’s mutual goal.
Albert Einstein said “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. A students’ motivations and learning needs can greatly vary from student to student, this can also be very different based on a students’ L2 (second language) level and the age of a student. The way I teach will also vary on these deciding factors.
An adult L2 beginner may require more patience from the teacher and the student using types of simplified yet engaging materials such pictures, videos, games, repetition, basic functions, the use of the present simple tense in small talk and vocabulary organised in a syllabus designed for a course of approximately 25 lessons, before the student will move up a level. Whereas for other L2 adult students with intermediate levels and above, tougher engaging activities with the encouragement of increased student talk time, along with the structure, topics and vocabulary growing in difficulty. Materials to be used such as coverage of current news topics, introduction of other time tenses, interesting idioms and their uses, and convenient conversations useful for everyday life.
In a class full of children, the classroom dynamic will change as motivations for some children may be because they want to learn off their own accord whereas others are simply there because their parents have perhaps required them to be. Therefore, motivational levels tend to have more diversity. This is my job as a teacher to keep the children interacting with the use of more engaging materials designed for their age group using more scenarios relating to them and their current pop culture, more games, pictures, videos, role playing likeable activities.
I like to focus on students speaking skills, and creating a positive environment where they can feel confident and comfortable to talk and make mistakes and keep making mistakes and not be embarrassed about trying. Correction on pronunciation and correct sentence forms are key areas I give importance to and specific encouragement on useful language tools that will apply to the everyday lives of my students. I’d implement this with the use of a structured syllabus that I would use as a measuring and guiding tool to visit my objectives and the students’ objectives. A Syllabus is important to track students’ progression of their goals and to ensure that I as a teacher cover all areas required.
For a higher leveled L2 students class I would prepare some activities based on current news topics of today. with this I would begin by asking students some questions relating to the news topic, using the target language that I want to introduce or to ensure the use of throughout the lesson. I may then begin a narrating activity where students read the article and can recount in their understanding what the article is about. From here I would create a kind of game or role play for students to be engaged, on the topic of the article, using target language and funnily enough learning the structure and English grammar without even knowing it. Finally, after the completion of one activity I will conclude with wrap up questions to have the students reiterate to myself that they have understanding of the target language and their correct uses.
A syllabus and an English class is nothing without preparation and lesson planning. As a teacher I am required to be prepared and familiarized to all different types of learners such as, visual, logical, aural, verbal and physical learners, with this I need to learn to accommodate to all varieties. For example, I will adapt to visual learners by using pictures and encouraging the student to perhaps read and draw. For the aural learner the use of videos and audio clips and encouragement of watching particular television shows, films, radio stations and pod cast types of materials. As it is my role to keep students engaged, I am required to prepare for every class individually. Each class will be designed in a custom made type of approach. I’d like to think students can still have fun whilst learning.
However, I will not pretend to know everything, I am continually learning about teaching and the individuals learning styles, which I will continue to do so in a open minded manner along with further experience and will collaborating with the Oxinity community. Working in this collaboration will not only provide support to me as a teacher but to each of my students as experience is knowledge and knowledge is power and two heads are better than one.