Teach English in Liulin Zhen - Hanzhong Shi

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Today I will be discussing teaching EFL in a kindergarten class. The main 3 points I will be talking about are Vietnam/the culture, school support and parents assistance. Just to give you some background, my name is Melanie Wallace and I am from Toledo, Ohio USA. I have over 10 years in the classroom experience. First starting as a substitute teacher in Nevada and then deciding to move abroad in 2013 to Vietnam. Vietnam is where I experienced my first EFL experience of teaching kindergarten. The first big difference in the school compared to the US was the culture and practices of the Vietnamese people. What I quickly learned was that in general the people were very friendly and driven by education. For example, most of the children in my class went to a class before regular school (8-4) then an afterschool program and the parents were still expecting a full load of homework in the evening. I bring that up so you can have an understanding of the pressure on these very young students. So once the children were in the classroom for our class, I observed the stress and the constant pushing of themselves to master English. So right away, I focused on not only learning but having fun so the children can be children and it would naturally flow. Some of the activities were to sing the alphabet, have matching color games and relay races with colors/numbers/toys. So you are probably wondering how did they understand me and what was the level of English when I entered the room. My first day, I came into the room and the children were already seated. A local teacher assistance was introducing me to the children and she was there to translate and help with class management. As I introduced myself, all I saw were big beautiful eyes looking straight at me and blinking. They knew no English so of course, I was nervous but as the days and weeks moved on the students were absorbing and retaining everything that we went over in class. Mainly because everyday, I had a lesson plan written and knew the direction I was going in. We started with the alphabet songs and we added something new everyday but drilling and constantly going over the material methods that I learned from my training is what did the trick. Again, this was my first experience and text books and extra materials are amazing but the one thing I never asked and thought about until I had my first teacher conference will amaze you. I went into the teacher conference with the translator and immediately noticed that everyone of my parents spoke English well and I didn’t need the translator at all. So my question for every single parent was “Do you speak English in the home” and every single parent said “No”. I was completely taken back. “Why?” All of the parents basically gave me the same answer. “I don’t want to teach my child the wrong thing to say.” I explained to every parent speaking English in the home will help your child more than I can. We can fix their mistakes but they are going to be more relaxed and comfortable at home and that will help the student absorb the material quicker. I required that at least one parent speak English daily and the students as a whole improved 90% because of it. Teaching EFL abroad has been such a rich experience learning new cultures, understanding the value of education in other places and school/parent support. I love teaching and I am constantly learning new things. I also get to travel to many different places on my downtime. I believe this experience will be a wonderful asset for my students once I return back to the states for good.