Saturday, 14 June 2008

Setting the Scene

When I first began to teach, at the age of 15, I was a wreck. I had no idea
on how to control a class and knew that the little 'monsters' were much more adept in tying me in knots, than I was in keeping them in check!

Nevertheless, I found my way, voice and style and can only say that I continue to do so to this day. After many a question, I decided to write a blog about teaching, for I am always happy to share and one of the nicest compliments that I received from a colleague, was just that, that I have no inhibitions or problems in sharing my knowledge and tips, for we are
all working to pass on some kind of message.

I am in love with language, I think that I always was. Even as a child I was an avid reader and would traipse to the local library to grab my quota of books (either 4 or 6) depending on my age and would complete them in a maximum time, of two weeks.

What I was to my shame to discover, that for all my endeavours, imagination and love of a story, my grammar 'sucked!'. I can recall myself sitting in a classroom, even at the very desk that I sat, with a book open in front of me called 'First Aid in English' not getting it! The proverbs would jump out at me and I could memorise them with ease, but what was present simple? that I was unable to fathom!

How in the end I got to the result that you see on this page today, I shall save for another day, but the thought that I am trying to transfer to you here is this.

This problem still persists and continues to this day, whether it be in the west or the east. Children are slipping through the chairs; if this is due to the system or the school, I cannot say, but I am addressing you, the teacher, for we can and should be the ones making the difference and I will attempt to show you my 'tips' and 'methods' of how.

So, the first thing is to set the scene. The classroom is 99% of the time allocated to us and not always under our control, facilities may be uncomfortable, board pens missing. The first thing is not to get
frustrated, keep calm and be both serious and welcoming at the same time.

A Child's Potential

Today, teaching at present in China, I come across different kinds of problems in my classroom and have learned so much about the school system here.

Years ago I remember that a Russian student of mine, told me that when he had gone to school, there was no such thing as a bad student, just a bad teacher.

What I hear here most of the time, is if the teacher in school is good, the children show their love and respect for many years to come. Due to the one child policy, children increase their circle to include friends, relatives, mentors and teachers throughout their years, as they play an important part in their character and personality formation.

Most of us remember either with a smile, grimace or shiver our teachers from the past, that berated, struck, encouraged or taught us in a way that has had some kind of lasting influence on our lives. So it is with pleasure that I whilst I am living here in a country that is many times criticised, there is an undeniable respect for their teachers, especially those that they feel have loved them.

We all know that it is impossible for all pupils/students to be at the top of their class, school year, local authority or state; so imagine in a place such as China, where in a class there are an average of 36 - 45 students,
at least 3 or more classes in the same year per school, a large number of schools in the city and an even larger number in the state, not even speaking of the country.

What an enormous amount of pressure must befall on them, what a burden to carry, for vying for a good place in the academic world comes long before that of the working one.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Where it all began…

Ten years ago, with all the talk of the coming millennium and a promise of increasing tourism, I was at that time working as a Tour Guide. I somehow did not wholeheartedly believe in it and decided to retrain as an EFL teacher. (English as a Foreign Language).

After I had completed my training, I also had a previous teaching certificate in Religious studies and had taught in Primary School, I was now on the lookout for a new ‘teaching’ home. I landed up at Berltz Israel, in Ramat Gan. Berlitz had an older system at that time, but most of the material as today, comes prepared for you.

This was a great advantage for a starting out EFL teacher and over the years I became involved in managing to introduce new courses into the system, such as literacy. Pre-university exams such as TOEFL, IELTS and the Amir Exam. Also how to work on the individual needs of the student, whether it be preparation for interviews, acceptance to work as a flight attendant or passing the required medical proficiency test for Fellowship.

So, I now decided it was time to write of my ‘tips’ of the trade, which I have been asked many a time to share, so here goes, log in again and read on.