TEFL Silver Hill Maryland

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Over the last 10 months, while living both in italy and the U.S, I have been observing not only the differences between the italian language and the english language, but also the differences between teachers and learners in these two countries. In this essay I will present a brief overview of my observations, both of the languages and the relationships, and the anticipated challenges they may present to a tefl teacher. While in rome last winter I made several friends through a website called, conversationexchange.com. I spent many hours helping these new friends improve their english and they helped me fumble my way through learning italian. By and large I noticed that they were very eager learners, very open to correction and very desirous of a greater level of precision in their spoken english. The latter, spoken english, can be particularly challenging for italians. Because italian is a romance language it is syllable-timed, whereas english is stress-timed. italian is also generally pronounced as it as spelled, whereas english spelling is rattled with silent letters and sounds that can be spelled in a variety of different ways. To make matters worse, many of the sounds that occur in english are not present in italian, such as th, h with an aspiration, and er when it is pronounced like grrrr. All of these things make mastering pronunciation especially difficult, and while someone may be able to construct excellent sentences or read a book, their spoken english is at a much lower level. Therefore, a certain amount of my time will certainly be dedicated to assisting specifically with these issues. There are grammatical structures also that can give an italian a run for their money. For example, sentence structure itself is far more flexible in italian. Personal pronouns are often implied by the form of the verb and therefore omitted. It can be difficult to remember that they are always necessary in english. In addition, the meaning of a sentence can change subtly in italian by shifting something to a different place. Personal pronouns may be pushed to the end of a sentence, or adjectives can follow a noun instead of precede it. In short, italian uses syntax to adjust meaning, but we use stress, and therefore altering the meaning of a sentence only using emphasis can be very challenging. Additionally, many of the perfect tenses don't have an equivalent in italian, and as one can imagine, how do you begin to connect time in a different way linguistically when maybe the roadmap for that relationship doesn't exist spatially in one's mind. All that being said, knowing these differences ahead of time is a great advantage. Hopefully I will be able to predict, a little bit, which units will need more time. All of the above is fairly easy to contend with as an instructor, at least in my initial attempts, as many italians are extremely eager learners who like to be corrected and followed closely. This observation brings me to my first cultural difference. In general, Americans are very sensitive to criticism, perhaps overly so. In working with my friends I often found that they were annoyed that I didn't give more correction. Therefore, as a teacher I will have to step out of my comfort zone in this regard. I noticed this not only with learning languages but with teaching Jazzercise, a form of dance aerobics, as well. In America we could never directly approach a Jazzercise student to make corrections, but in italy it's very common. Another cultural difference, sadly, is that italians are generally very curious by nature, and when intrigued they want to know more. Now, this is not to imply that Americans aren't curious, it's just that italians frequently stump me with their questions in regards to history, statistics, sociology and the arts. Many Americans often don't ask the intelligent questions that italians do, and I find that my credibility with them can fall a notch or two if I don't have a sufficient answer. As I can't know all things or ever be fully prepared for this perpetual inquisitiveness, I find that if I can eventually provide an answer, through research or asking the right connection, I can earn back some of the points I previously lost. In summation, while there are hurdles to cross in teaching proper grammar or pronunciation to italians, many of those challenges are met easily via time and patience, as they are very willing to do the work necessary. For me it is differences in regards to culture and education, and how one approaches education, which could provide the greater hurdles to effective tefl instruction.