This gives me a chance to review the previous year and start preparing for the next. I have often thought about what sort of things I can do to make my teaching experience better while having a bit of a break during the summer, to relax away from work, whilst also keeping my hand in.
This is what I have come up with...
1. Think about things you want to change (Preparation, planning and action).
Previously, I didn’t think it mattered what the nationality of the students were, I thought that the environment and perhaps the student-teacher relationship would be the key issues. However, I am not widely traveled, certainly not outside of Europe so I have no worldly experiences to draw upon, unlike some of the others on the course.
With students who are preparing for presentations, job interviews or even exams, a great way to motivate them and get them thinking about using the English language effectively, is to encourage them to generate their own content to bring to class. Over a number of lessons, I would usually work towards the student preparing and delivering a presentation, which they would then video at home and upload. I have found that this method works well, even with those students who were timid or hesitant to speak English in the beginning.
I have been giving Skype based lessons for nearly a year now, when previously I hadn't even considered it to be a valid form of teaching. I couldn't quite understand how it would have been possible to teach effectively in a remote way. It really did seem to go against everything I had been taught as a teacher.
I wasn't sure that teaching was right for me.
Many years later, I still believe that I made the correct decision not to become a full-time teacher straight out of university. Instead my path took me into the world of business where I experienced diverse roles and responsibilities in a range of working environments. Although I didn't know it at the time, this actually gave me the management skills and business know-how on which to base my future career as a teacher. Without this solid grounding, I doubt that I would be anywhere near as successful as I am.
Helping a student to advance in their language learning activities normally depends upon how confident they are in actually using the skills that they are learning. Children at school and college tend to build their own self esteem and confidence levels through academic achievements, which most will take with them into the workplace. As we get older however, learning new skills such as languages becomes harder to achieve and this can knock an older, or adult student’s confidence.
I subscribe to the school that if you are not interested then you won’t be engaged, and if you are not engaged then you don’t learn. So I try to find things that are fun for my students to listen to, and because if it’s fun, it’s also interesting and will be engaging, so that students will learn and also remember! However, my preference is for a ‘visually’ assisted listening activity. Yes, we all have to listen to things without the use of something to look at too, but in reality these days that’s only on the radio, some music or the telephone.
I have used this activity with both groups and single students. Most English exams touch on the basic skills of English, such as description, instruction, narration, hypothesis and opinion. To help ‘train’ the students for this, a photograph is a great starting point. For this activity, I usually have a number of different pictures all of a similar theme handy for step two.
The students need to go through the following 4 steps:
2. Compare and contrast
4. Give opinion
Working freelance or as self employed I can pick and choose what to do and when to do it, which helps to keep my work interesting and motivated to continue. I am motivated by the fact that the work I am doing has purpose, rather than merely being a ‘cog’ in a large company where day-to-day life can be extremely dull. However, there are occasions when my motivation just goes out of the window, and I am left in a slump despairing at the day ahead of me.
In particular I have a number of teens who are always difficult when it comes to homework, so I recently turned them into ‘fleet street hacks’ for some fun writing exercises.