I have been pleased in this course to actually learn some of the rules of grammar and to see them spelled out. When I was growing up, grammar basically was not taught in California
schools (or at least not my California
schools). I learned to use (I believe) relatively correct and complex grammar, including some of the trickier tenses, by reading and imitating/emulating the writings of various nineteenth-century novelists, but that was absolutely no thanks to the educational system. It has been nice to see the various tenses and their uses explained systematically.
Various other parts of the course proved to be more interesting than I would have expected, too. Just as one example among others, I found the unit on pronunciation and phonology fascinating.
In general, I enjoyed thinking about the whole processes of communication and education, and how to clarify and improve them both. Many of the lessons that apply
students about effective communication and instruction apply
more generally to other teaching situations and are well worth remembering. As a former college history instructor in los angeles
who often had significant numbers of students who were using english
as a second language—and who struggled to varying degrees with it, and some of whom were not really yet ready for college-level work—I learned a fair amount about classroom management and teaching across language barriers, but this course helped to emphasize or confirm certain points about which I already was aware to some extent in addition to offering numerous helpful suggestions and techniques that, looking back, I realize could have made my teaching more effective.
This course also reminded me that I love teaching and love the study of language, be it in history, literature, philosophy, or wherever. Back when I was a history professor, I got a reputation for writing a lot of comments on students' term papers submitted to fulfill mandatory writing requirements, and some students were probably a little surprised or taken aback that I took grading and evaluating the written assignments so seriously when some other professors apparently didn't. But I did genuinely care about helping them to hone their ability to write effectively, more than the specific factual content of their papers. And I find that I still do. Later, as a member of Toastmasters International, I helped to coach some esl
members regarding the speeches they prepared, and I enjoyed the process of trying to explain various english
language issues to people who found such matters unfamiliar but sincerely wished to improve. So although my life in recent years has veered away from teaching, I feel that I must steer it back in that direction.
What will I do with what I have learned? I don't know for sure, and because my life has been in flux for quite some time, I've learned not to say anything about the future with certainty. But I hope to be able to use my newly developed skills, and I think I probably will. Originally I took this course to prepare to be a college-level english teacher
with the US Peace Corps somewhere in Eastern Europe. The Corps' budget was cut, and my program was cancelled, and because I suspect the same sort of thing will happen again this year, I am no longer pinning any hopes on the Peace Corps. But I am investigating the possibility of doing international volunteer work with non-governmental organizations, and some of the work they do is teaching or tutor
. I also find that, after spending most of my youth as a stick in the mud who was content to stay home and not see the world, I now feel almost compelled to explore other parts of the world. If I could somehow manage to do so while making a living as an english
instructor or tutor
, I'd be delighted. We shall see what the future holds.