Teach English in Liquanzhuang Zhen - Qingdao Shi

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As a child, English was not my first language, nor was it my mother's, or my father's. Indeed, both parents were born and raised in what I may now see as a “foreign tongue”, and their exposure to the English language was brought on by the influence of Western pop culture. Initially speaking, my parents were motivated by a desire to put meaning to the TV shows and songs that surrounded their youth in Europe. Alternatively, my mother's father once sent her to the United States as a college student, stressing that if she wanted to expand her opportunities, learning English was non-negotiable. As a result, I, too, was ingrained with the idea that English would improve the quality of my life. Thus, as a five-year-old, English began to take over my mother tongue. Both as an adult, teacher, and coordinator for European exchange programs, I have witnessed the special circumstances that accompany English learning as an adult. With the growing need to acquire efficient English language skills, to reach the level of B2, C1 or ideally C2, the anxiety wrapped around both speaking and being understood perfectly often times paralyzes the curiosity that it takes to engage, study, and activate oneself for the goal of acquiring a new language. As such, non-native English speakers may be faced with the knowledge that because of the globality of the English language, learners will either most likely need, or gain extreme benefits from the acquisition of the English language as a tool to help them reach their personal and career-oriented goals. Because of this, from one perspective, an adult’s willingness to view the English language as a global language is an advantage for both teacher and student. This is primarily due to the topic of “motivation”. Often times, working with young English learners poses a problem around motivation. Teachers of young learners are often faced with questions like, what can we do to motivate the student enough to learn so that they understand their future prospects solely by their ability to speak the English language? While engaging young learners with props and references from their favourite English-speaking television shows and cartoons acts as a great tool for capturing attention, children are less likely to understand the benefits to speaking and understand a global language. Thus, adults who often enter the classroom with a slight understanding of English are easier to motivate based on a proper understanding of the opportunities presented to them through English acquisition skills. Using this motivation to engage with adults is vital for the relationship between student and teacher, as well as student and language. As an individual living and working abroad, I have seen the various instances in which an adult's ability to communicate their wants and needs effectively has dramatically changed their experience globally. Indeed, many adults are motivated by the act of travelling, studying, working or living in an English speaking country to take on the daunting task of language learning. As such, adults may be more willing to see the necessity of their English speaking capabilities and thus may be motivated to begin the process of learning through acts such as enrolling in a language online course or finding a local English learning institute in their area. While the knowledge of English as a global language may, in fact, motivate students with prospects of future careers, travels, grade improvement, and the opportunity to live and study in an English speaking country, communicate with colleagues, or simply out of one’s interest in languages, overcoming the special issues that face adults in the context of learning create a difficult task for both teacher and student. On the end of the teacher, one must understand the very specific needs this particular individual might be entering the classroom with. For example, career prospects may be the guiding reason for this student's engagement and thus, the teacher must take into account the goal of passing a specific general external examination for the sake of one's future. In this particular situation, understanding class differences and language learning as necessity is important for the teacher to be aware of and sensitive towards when making attempts to engage and motivate the English learner. Because of English's status as a global language, adults may enter the classroom feeling anxious and nervous about their learning experience, and this fear of failure may result in the student becoming more reserved and unable to display their skill set. Due to factors such as good and bad learning experiences, nervousness, and self-consciousness, adult English learners might be too afraid to become vulnerable in front of their teacher. Indeed, allowing oneself to make mistakes and risk being misunderstood in the face of an adult is a difficult and daunting task that must never be underestimated. In addition, due to the proximity In age between student and teacher when working with adults, the “blurred roles” may compound the student's existing nervousness and require flexibility in the individual acting as the teacher. More specifically, paying mindful attention to ensure that one's authoritative role need not influence an often already motivated yet insecure learner is vital to keeping adult learners interested and focused on gaining both access to and one's special place in a global language. As such, I have noticed that seeking more information on the adult's desire to learn English can be used as a beneficial tool for student engagement. While young learners may not see the "widening world" that comes with being able to communicate in a hostel, or express yourself accurately to a possible future employer, adults are able to often times bypass their nervousness and fear of being wrong by staying focused on the future possibilities presented to them by their new skill. By stressing the idea that English, as a global language, is not there to “threaten” them but to open doors to greater connection with the world, teachers, by paying special attention to the needs, culture, and past experiences of adult learners will be able to weaken the barrier between adult learner and sometimes daunting yet always rewarding newly acquired skills such as speaking and learning the English language.