TEFL Maiduguri

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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:

E. R. - U.S.A. said:
Teaching english as a foreign language presents many challenges that set it apart from conventional teaching. Linguistic and cultural differences exist between teacher and student that traditional teachers do not have to overcome, as well as being faced with the considerable structural and resource limitations and obstacles that arise from being in a non-native environment. As a result, teaching style and theory regarding the teaching of english to foreign speakers has evolved to favor methodology that can be applied almost universally to any classroom anywhere in the world. At the basis of all language teaching is grammar-translation, as not only is this is the oldest approach, but it provides the rational basis of all language learning. It however, is a very problematic approach in the tefl environment, as this is where the linguistic barriers between student and teacher become a factor. It necessitates that a considerable amount of learning take place in the student’s native language, resulting in a lack of “natural language input” (1), and tending to teach students “about the language rather than learning the language itself.” (2) Other methodologies where adapted to the purpose or grew out of the unique challenges of teaching english to foreign speakers. Audio-ligualism, which is in theory based on “habit formation through conditioning.” (3) relies on repetition drills,designed to condition the students into specific usage of the language. Presentation, Practice, and Production is a popular methodology because of it’s effectiveness at lower levels. This methodology allows the teacher to present specific languages and scenarios that are then practiced in drilling until students are comfortable enough to begin using the language creatively themselves. Similar in nature is Tasked-Based learning, where students are given a task to complete and obliged to learn the language skills necessary to complete it, Communicative Language Teaching, which “re quire(s) the students to use the language in real life situations” (4), which both attempt to focus on specific usage as a vehicle to treat the specific procedural difficulties in Teaching english Abroad. These special approaches do not stop there, of course. The silent way, Community Language Learning and Suggestopaedia, are all attempts to adapt theories of learning that have emerged in recent years, like Garner’s Multiple Intelligences (5) , to the specific needs of tefl teaching. Each of these attempt to put the student in the more central role, with the teacher as facilitator, so that the student can utilize their own natural learning style. Unfortunately, many of these student centered styles have little recourse if the classroom is not full of highly motivated students. Therefore, teachers must still rely on some theory of formalized, led class, which leads back to the core issues of tefl teaching — effectively bridging the linguistic and cultural gap between teacher and student. As a result, more recent focus has been on training tefl teachers to be more flexible in their approach-- in essence synthesizing some amount of all these approaches in order to adapt to the wide variety of situations the teacher might find themselves in. One of the most effective synthesis methodologies is the Engage, Study, Activate (ESA) approach, as put forward by Jeremy Harmer (6). With this methodology “all the the previously mentioned conditions…. (are) applied and gives the teacher a great deal of flexibility in the classroom.” (7) This allows for a balance between teacher led instruction and motivation and various learning styles, as well as providing the teacher with more tools with which to overcome the cultural and linguistic barriers that exist. Here, the teacher seeks first to engage the students in each lesson by arousing interest and presenting them with language challenges that they find relevant and stimulating. Next they acquire new language skills by ‘studying’. The flexibility here is that the approach to study can be through any activity which effectively connects with the students. Auditory drills, visual demonstrations and grammatical explanations are all encouraged and utilized where. useful. The third Activate module then re-centers the lesson on the students, encouraging them to use the language creatively and naturally through challenges and games. In all cases, the students are provided with opportunities to develop their capacity speak and their confidence in language. The teacher has a wide array of options here as well, in terms of implementation, able to adjust style and methodology to fit the situation. With this approach, teaching style no longer has to be a fixed concept, but rather it can become a more modular, customizable asset. By expanding the teachers repertoire of approaches, he or she is better able to deal with the challenges that face tefl teaching in most any cultural and environmental setting. This means greater sensitivity to the students learning style, to the varieties of intelligences that exist in the classroom and the ability to achieve greater overall results and satisfaction for student and teacher alike. REFERENCES 1. ITTT tefl and tesol Training Materials, author unknown, Unit 3, pages 2-3 copyright 2011 2. ibid. 3. ibid. 4. ibid. 5. The Importance of learning styles in esl/efl, Tatyana Putintseva, online document, The Internet Tesl Journal, Vol. XII, No. 3, March 2006 http://iteslj.org/Articles/Putintseva-LearningStyles.html