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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:
There are certain traits a teacher will desire for her classroom dynamic. The way she achieves a safe, fun, and motivating dynamic will change depending on the cultural background of her students, and whether or not they have the same background. In order to develop the ideal teaching environment, a teacher must first consider the different benefits and drawbacks of either having a multilingual or monolingual group of students. There are many benefits to teaching multilingual classes. A “variety of cultures and ideas” (1) would bring a much wider range of interest for teaching topics. The exposure to different accents would help improve the students' listening skills, and without a common native tongue, the students would be forced to communicate in english. During lessons, the students have the opportunity to “form new friendships with other non-native speakers from different cultures, which helps to promote racial tolerance and multiculturalism.”(2) Most multilingual classes take place in an english
based country, which exposes the students to the english language outside of the classroom, and in real situations. Some difficulties teachers encounter include the inability to focus on individual problems in the classroom, as each student will have different weaknesses that they struggle with. Different cultural attitudes and behaviours have the potential to clash, creating social friction and disruption in the classroom. Since the students have most likely traveled to a foreign country, there are other outside factors which the teacher must bring into consideration. Being in a foreign country will feel like living on another planet until they develop, or improve upon, their basic communication skills. The teacher must understand that the student may feel more vulnerable, alone, and anxious in a multilingual class setting. Students in this situation tend to “avoid interactions with native speakers because of their frustrations or embarrassment at their english
ability.” (3) It is therefore imperative that the teacher is always welcoming, non-judgmental, extremely patient, and moves very slowly through the material. The students will most likely feel overwhelmed with the loss of their own culture, language, and original support group of family and friends back home. The teacher should make an effort to bring a flare of each culture into the classroom to promote interest in each other, and to help each student feel a little more at home in the classroom. In contrast, there are many positive aspects of teaching a monolingual class. Because the students speak the same language, they will most likely have similar difficulties or challenges in the english language. These problems can then be addressed to the whole class in a customized lesson plan. The students would more openly accept one another because their “cultural background is the same or similar” (1), making a positive rapport develop more readily. Most monolingual classes are held in their home country, and so they do not have the same kind of pressures that a student
studying out of country would have. This would greatly contribute to a more relaxed classroom environment, allowing the students to pick up the language easier. Unfortunately, that same relaxed attitude can often drop the motivation in a class to a certain degree, putting more weight on the teacher to manifest the motivation within the lessons. This again, can be more difficult as the students of one cultural background would most likely have similar interests, narrowing the range of topics for the teacher to base lessons off of. The students are much more likely to revert back to their mother tongue in the classroom, and with the teacher as their only source of english, they will get very little, if any, exposure to the language outside of the lessons. The students in a monolingual class typically may not have to adapt to a new culture, but the teacher does. It is highly important that the teacher
researches and makes herself accustomed to the culture of the students' home country. It would help the teacher understand the students' behaviour, avoid social taboos, and greatly assist her in establishing a positive rapport with her students. There may be different factors to consider when teaching multilingual classes versus monolingual classes, but the goal for any teacher should remain the same: to create a safe, fun, motivating, and interesting environment for the students to learn and grow in. References: 1. Unit 19, page 20, tefl online course. 2. Section 3.5, english as a foreign or second language, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/english_as_a_foreign_or_second_language#Social_Challenges_and_Benefits 3. Section 3.4, english as a foreign or second language, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
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