Teach English in Fengshui Zhen - Zibo Shi

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For me, the most helpful part of this course was the ESA lesson planning methodology. Had I learned about the Engage, Study, and Activate phases before having taught my co-workers in Laos this year, I likely would have prepared much more effective lessons. As it turned out, my natural inclination when lesson planning did sometimes mimic the ESA structure. For one lesson, I unknowingly employed the Straight Arrow method, first starting in the Engage phase by asking the class if they knew any artists from Western music. They listed Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, and for some reason, The Scorpions, as artists that were popular in Laos. To make this activity more engaging, I could have asked if there were any songs or lyrics by these artists that they particularly enjoyed. I then jumped into a Study exercise by playing The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and handing out a worksheet I’d prepared beforehand with certain lyrics blanked out. The students listened to the song and filled in the blanks. Then, we went over the worksheet by having each student read (or sing, if they were feeling brave) a line with the correct lyric, often stopping so that I could explain the meaning of the word and the context when appropriate. In hindsight, I probably should have first asked the students what they thought a certain phrase or word meant rather than immediately explaining it myself. If they struggled, I could have used prompting to lead them to the correct answer while still allowing them to discover it for themselves. As was stated in the course, this kind of learning is more conducive for retaining the target language. Using vocabulary from the song, we then entered the Activate stage by playing the game, “Bowl of Nouns,” a timed vocabulary game that mixes taboo and charades. This game was actually very effective for helping the students learn the vocabulary, so I don’t think I would have changed anything about this part of the lesson. Many of my other lessons lingered in the Activate stage. I would play game after game with the students, and while this was fun, it didn’t help students to realize their full potential. In China, I hope to find the right mix of straight arrow, boomerang, and patchwork lessons in hopes of delivering the freshest, most engaging lesson plans possible. Another segment of the ITTT TEFL course that I found especially helpful was the part that mentions tips on managing the classroom. There are so many easy mistakes to make when managing a classroom, and I feel that this lesson has prepared me with the tools to avoid them. For example, I had not previously thought about how important it is to use eye contact strategically so that all students feel involved, encouraged to participate, and willing to remain focused. Advice on different types of class groupings and classroom arrangement were also immensely helpful. Previously, I had only considered grouping and arrangement’s potential impact on participation levels, but this course helped me to realize that there are many other factors to consider, such as stress levels, differing personalities, different cultures, noise level, and ability for the teacher to check individual progress. While I’m fond of a circular, Socratic-seminar style seating arrangement, I’m fairly certain that the class size of the college at which I’m teaching won’t allow for that. However, if there is space to do a circles and horseshoes style arrangement, I think I would prefer this in order to make my position as a teacher less dominating. There are many suggestions in this and other units that I will likely implement in my lessons next year. Thank you to the staff at ITTT for providing such a helpful course!