Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Some Solid Advice about Teaching ESL Abroad

Don't make these 7 mistakes teaching English Abroad.

I generally agree with most of them, especially the "lifestyle" kind of ones.  But, not focusing on pronunciation?  That is exactly why most schools hire Native Speakers.  And, while you don't have to stress, you really can help students a lot, especially by teaching them the correct way to use their tongue and lips to form the sounds.  And it's easy enough to focus on grammar, and even build a  lesson around it, without overdoing it.  You just have to be sneaky about it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Celta Teaching Practice #4

Is done!  And with a pass, but just barely.  Anyway, 4 down, and 4 more to go.  It's hard not to become a little jaded.  My lesson on prepositions of place was quite fabulous I think, at least that was the feedback from the other trainees.  And the students seemed to love it and get a lot out of it.  After the break, they were still talking about it, and asking me questions and discussing amongst themselves the finer details.  The feedback I got from the trainer was nit-picky crap like:

1. You shouldn't use the recycled paper, use nice white paper for handouts.  My uni uses the recycled paper for lots of stuff and it's kind of the only machine we're allowed to use for more than a very small numbers of copies.  I was copying stuff for my uni classes, so I just did it all at the same time.

2. It was too teacher-centered.  I did do a little talking about stuff for about 5 minutes out of the 40 minute lesson.  Things like, "between" has 3 items, "next to" has 2, and "across from" must have something after it.  I think actually I could have been on a training video or something for what a student-centered lesson on prepositions of place should look like.

3. An information gap activity was "controlled-practice" and not "freer-practice."  I totally disagreed.  The students were asking and giving directions, but they were able to use any of the vocab we talked about (or any other stuff they knew) to describe where the place was to their partner.  To me, this is about as freer practice as prepositions of place can get. 

4. Using "across from" instead of "opposite."  I'm Canadian, not British, so how can I teach the British way?  And most students in Korea want to learn "American-English" anyway.

Ridiculous.  I have no more to say and am moving on.  I can't wait to be done.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Celta and Technology in Teaching

One of the major frustrations I have for the Celta course is that I'm not allowed to use any technology in teaching, even though the center has a fabulous Interactive Whiteboard system that is more fabulous than the computer console I normally use at my Uni.  For example, this week the lesson that I have to teach is "prepositions of place."  I think it's very necessary vocab for students to have, but it also has a high potential to be dead-boring.  Which is why, when I teach it in  my real-life, I'll always get a little video or pictures of a real city or some sort of fun PPT game to make it more exciting.  Sometimes even all 3.  It helps to make the lesson fun and memorable.  And not boring.  But, for this Celta lesson, I feel like I've been put into a box that I don't like.  Kind of like being a boxer with only 1 arm.

And these days, doesn't everyone use technology to teach?  I just assume that any University (or adult-teaching) situation that I walk into will have a computer console, or an Interactive Whiteboard, or at the very least a projector of some sort so I can hook up my own computer or Ipad.  It seems to me that the Celta course is a bit behind the times and although they might have some good rationale behind not getting on-board the technology bandwagon, I don't like it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Celta Teaching Practice #3

Another pass!  Only 5 more to go.  I didn't get an above standard due mostly to laziness on my part.  We're given a textbook to "teach from" but often, it's not really that great and if you follow the activities/practice precisely, it can cause you to fail since it doesn't have all the steps you need for each kind of lesson.  Anyway, the page I was given wasn't that fabulous, so I combined some stuff from the workbook with some stuff from the student book, and made my own freer-practice activity, but as it turns out, I should have just forgotten the book altogether and made my own thing.  Which I knew as I was writing my lesson plan.  But, I didn't want to believe that I really couldn't use anything and that not only did I have to make a 6-page lesson plan, but that I had to re-do an entire textbook page. 

Anyway, it wasn't close to a fail, just not fabulous.  Lesson learned for next time!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Celta Teaching Practice #2

Teaching practice #2 (out of 8) is done!   And another above standard :)  I hope the trend continues.  Anyway, I had to do a reading lesson and found the "Celta way" quite helpful in making an interesting kind of lesson.  Here's what I did:

1. Context.  My article was about waiting in airports, so I introduced the lesson by talking about Incheon and how, although I'm usually impatient I like waiting at Incheon because it's so nice.  Then, the students talked for a couple minutes and thought of 5 things people do in airports while waiting.

2. Pre-Reading Task.  The article was about this guy who stayed in Charles De Gaulle airport for 17 years because he initially had visa/refugee issues but then he liked it so he just stayed.  I gave the students very minimal information (a guy stayed in Paris' airport for 17 years) and asked them to think about some possible reasons why.

3. Skim-Reading Task.  They had a very short time and had to figure out which of their predictions was correct.

4. Main-Reading Task.  They read the article carefully and answered some T/F questions, as well as talked with their partner about 3 good and 3 bad things about this guy's life.

5. Post-Reading Task.  They had to pretend that they could meet the guy in person and come up with some interesting questions they could ask him.  Then, one person pretended to be the guy in the airport and the other one was a newspaper reporter who had to interview him. 

Overall, it went really well and I think I'll definitely use this style of lesson plan for any reading/listening lessons that I do.