07 January 2015 / by Radmila Gurkova

From Russia with love! Dina Tkach on English language teaching.

My name is Dina Tkach, I’m 25 and I’m from Kaliningrad, Russia. I have a Degree in Linguistics and my profession is translator/interpreter. I also studied English Philology in Bilbao at the University of Deusto as an Erasmus student so my second language is Spanish. I have experience in teaching both Spanish and English and I like my job very much. Sometimes I participate in different projects as an interpreter, for example I worked for FIVB when the volleyball teams came to my city for competitions. I like trying new opportunities in life that broaden my mind and give me professional and emotional experience.

OxbridgeTEFL: What is English language teaching about according to Dina Tkach?

Dina Tkach: English language teaching is an educational and at the same time communicative process when a student has an opportunity to speak, listen, learn new vocabulary and grammar structures. Through different engaging tasks a student enriches his/her vocabulary, understands the meaning of grammar structures and then learns to implement them in a speech. Thus, a well structured lesson can contribute greatly to a student’s success.

OxTEFL: Is ESL education in Spain sick or in good health? How different is it from Russian educational system?

D.T.: English language teaching education is aimed at developing good communicative skills through specially elaborated program. And this program appeals to me very much.

In Russia teachers are usually guided by textbooks that include 4 main spheres: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Grammar. The effectiveness of this method depends on a teacher’s creativity: a textbook can be a good source of tasks and ideas or a boring book that has a very small effect.

I still like some textbooks, like Speak Out that provides interesting topics, questions, BBC videos, listening tasks but manage them in a manner that will adapt to each of my student.

For example sometimes I can ask to retell the text or not only to translate what have been said in an audio but also repeat the phrase. For Russian people Listening is very important because we have few opportunities to hear the native speech. As a grammar exercise I ask the student not only to fill in gaps but to translate the sentence from Russian to English as a whole. These tasks also help to activate vocabulary as in practice it often happens that a student understands everything well but can say very little or incorrectly.

I borrowed such exercises from my university experience because we were asked to retell, for example, O. Henri stories close to the original and learn by heart a lot of different texts and, despite it was time consuming and difficult it contributed to a fast progress.

The main thing is to find a good balance between different types of exercises and try to stick to the student’s needs.

In general I may say that in Russia we tend to implement new communicative methodologies, buy Cambridge/Oxford edition manuals for schools and language centers, but still many soviet books and techniques are in use.

There is still people’s need to start to speak as fast as possible but there hasn’t been offered anything similar to an Oxbridge Tefl method, which could be very interesting to try to implement (now I can only refer to my city Kaliningrad)

OxTEFL: What is the English teacher's biggest challenge in the classroom? How would you overcome it?

D.T.: The teacher’s biggest challenge is to try to analyze each student’s level, fill in gaps in knowledge, find an individual approach, and create harmony in a class.

In this case knowledge tests may help, analyzing and covering common mistakes, creating activities when each student can participate. Some teacher’s personal feedback may be received through homework.

OxTEFL: What would your solution be to improving English language education in Spain? How should we teach English?

D.T.: I think it should be easier to teach English in Spain than in Russia because many things are similar: alphabet, words, grammar analogues, use of tenses. Using cognates in speech, giving parallels between both languages, showing the same contexts of usage of words and structures or just comparing them may be beneficial. Special attention should be paid to pronunciation and some crucial theoretical aspects of the English pronunciation.

OxTEFL: What do teachers need to give the best of themselves as professionals?

D.T.: Preparation for a lesson, linguistic knowledge, professional development that includes reading special literature, participating in workshops, taking courses for teachers; for non-native teachers- passing exams for IELTS or TOEFL, and an ability to establish good rapport with the students. These are necessary constituents of the teacher’s good job.

OxTEFL: A memorable moment from your ESL experience?

D.T. I liked my teaching practice at OxbridgeTEFL's course at the different enterprises because I didn’t have this opportunity in Russia. It was very interesting and enjoyable.

OxTEFL: Your advice to new teachers or those considering becoming such.

D.T.: First of all analyze how much you are interested in languages, in teaching them, your personal teaching skills, previous experience, your motivation and the reason why you want to take the TEFL course and become a teacher. How do you see your future as an English teacher? For those who doubt answering these questions may be useful.

For new teachers I will advice to go ahead and enrich their knowledge through various resources that offer us Internet, reference books and sharing your experience with each other.

OxTEFL: Best of luck in your ESL career and happy 2015!



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