TEFL Fuyang

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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:

F.M. - Canada said:
Cultural sensitivity within an esl classroom is one of the most important priorities to an esl teacher. The beginning of a school year is very stressful and creates much anxiety to mainstream teachers but esl teachers are faced with additional challenges when they are dealing with a multi-cultural and multi-level classroom. The teacher must be sensitive to all of the different cultures as well as to the level of english the students present. It is important that the teacher after receiving the class list, research some of the cultures that she assumes are in her classroom. The key word there is “assume”. The teacher does not know the specific culture for sure not does she know the background and history of the students. Being an esl teacher is sometimes a juggling act. Even if the esl teacher prepares and researches particular areas of a culture, until she meets the student and has knowledge of their background, the teacher is walking into the class blindfolded. It is very important initially that the teacher establishes a zero-tolerance of bullying and prejudices in the classroom. Usually within the first few days the rules of the classroom should be established and the students should be very aware of the rules regarding respecting the different cultures. A student needs to feel SAFE in the classroom. Once the student feels accepted and at ease, then learning can take place. If the student is anxious or scared then the learning can never occur. This is a very important and big factor in my own personal experience teaching esl for the past 9 years. When I first started teaching esl, I wasn’t familiar with the prejudices that some cultures have with others. I did not make respect a priority my first time teaching esl and I ran into a few problems with bullying among the students. Since that experience, I am very strict with each of the students treating each other with respect – always. At first, the students are reluctant to interact with students of other cultures but soon when they realize that they have no other choice, they soon become very good friends. It does take a few weeks to even a month before the students begin to interact but in the interim I make sure there is no bullying or disrespect. I think the teacher has to model respectful behaviour. Besides her actions, the teacher can have a calendar with all of the cultures’ celebrations listed and make sure that she recognizes the celebration on the particular day. Also, I have the students create their countries flag and I pin them up around the map of the world. I usually have each student place a coloured pin on their country on the map and introduce themselves and their country to the rest of the students. The first few months are difficult but if the teacher is consistent with the zero-tolerance rules in the classroom eventually the room is one of peace, acceptance and respect. I also set aside two weeks at the end of the year. The students prepare and present their culture to other students. This includes a lesson outlining their countries’ music, celebrations, dress/clothing, Religion and food. Also, the students prepare cultural dishes famous in their countries and shares them with the other students. This is probably the highlight of the year for most students. By this time, they have grown to be very good friends and they are excited to learn about different cultures. It is so important that the teacher establish this environment of respect at the beginning of the year. I have seen amazing things using this approach. It is interesting. My students (of all different cultures) would rather ‘hang out’ in my classroom together than interact with the mainstream students. An esl classroom is a place of safety, respect, acceptance, compassion, understanding and unconditional love.