Private tutoring, leads to references

20190124_160748 121 board

Private tutoring is an entirely different sort of language teaching altogether. You actually have to plan something to discuss with the student. Quite recently, I’ve found that some of them will demand to have homework. I tend to associate the word, homework with younger students and the rote method of learning. I do agree that repetition has it’s place, but the view that the student wants something to take away from the lesson is, I think is teacher lead, but laudable.

Speaking of one of my soon to be former students, she is about sixty years old. Being from a former Soviet bloc countries, she can be a little on the outgoing side. I would define a difficult student to teach is one that needs a lot of input, as in talking. However, encouraging your student to talk more than you do is a matter of luck, and also I think, experience. Far from being difficult to extract language from her, she has turned out to be very fluent, albeit in German and a multiple of other continental languages such as Russian, Italian amongst others. However, in dialogues with her, I have felt that she is most able to talk about anything. But, in listening to her, it was sort of like an out of focus picture. The gross detail is there while the finer detail is blurry or missing. Having lived in a foreign culture for so long, certainly refines your predictive language ability.

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Meaning, form AND use?

20180903_141713 A snapshot of an ESL classroom

A shot of my recent scrawlings. Being a whiteboard that’s inside of an ESL classroom it is way too small. Put it down to whiteboard management, but, I probably need to get that duster going, but, it’s difficult to prioritize what to rub out and what to keep. Still, the students are good, the course intense enough to challenge my skills as an ESL teacher.

Audio-lingual method, inescapable

20180514_085625Second language teaching in New Zealand is something I’d always thought I could do, and now are doing at the present with an institute in town. My students are genuine first learners or I surmise, “false beginners”. And oddly enough, most of them are Chinese, though I did have one student that was from Columbia.

They’ve had the benefit of English learning but, possibly had not had the chance to speak much, or at all. I feel that some of them have quite high affective filters. But, the biggest thing that’s letting them down is the way that they’re learning, which is through the Audio-lingual method. (Which is “repeat after me!) Being a good CELTA, I have tried to have them learn through more productive methods. Sadly, having them produce anything is to wait a long time to produce. Another thing I’ve seen, and have proved again is that any material that they have in their hands is instantly translated into Chinese, sometimes through translation software. Good if you want speed, bad if you want learning. Thanks Google.

/dʒózəfs dʒǽkət ɪ́z tú lɔ́ŋ/

Still, teaching the chants, pronunciation and rhythms of speech takes me back to when I was teaching Elementary school in Korea. I even taught my current students what a schwa (/ə/) was when pronouncing the reduced form of a vowel. Still, I’ve managed to write fluently using phonemic speech most times, with, few errors.

Easily read

IMG_1233 Warning, ignored

The wonder of collocates

Well qualified, just a decade out of date

Ascending standardsIMG_0001_zps810e16ce ESOL lecturersLooking back at these old situations vacant ads, one might realize that with the current standards, what they ask for is out date. Of course, these are the minimum entry qualifications. Now days, the advertisements I’ve seen the entry standards for jobs like the above are much, much higher. Masters in TESOL or Linguistics plus experience. I would love to apply for this job, and, since I do meet the standards for application but sadly, I’m a decade late.

Starting out: Origins

IMG_0001_zpsc472aa15(EPIK 2002)I started teaching in the raw in South Korea, after a short two week orientation at KNUE in Cheongju, Southern Cheongchung province. I say teaching in the raw, because initially it was painful, and without any TESOL knowledge I knew it was horrible. I can only imagine what the students thought. Still, it took me over 5 years to come even what in my mind what I thought was close to being a good teacher. It may have been the deep countryside I was teaching in, but still had a lot to learn. MY co-teachers would have me teach like they do. Even back then, I knew I had to distance myself as far away from it as possible. Amongst my fellow graduates of the 2002 EPIK programme, there were an eclectic bunch of people.

I’d always thought that the students should be speaking more. This initially wasn’t driven by any sort of theory other than laziness. Who wants to speak for the whole lesson? This principle still holds today, though is now backed by firm communicative theory.  Walsh is one, while Thornbury is another.

Ascending numbers with descending requirements

Much to my disappointment, the ESL game in Korea has gotten harder. Koreans (and possibly the rest of the world too) has seen changes and reacted correspondingly. From an observers standpoint, their response has been entirely reactive, emotional and based on what I think is the wrong idea of ‘authenticity’. Authenticity is of course where the Native speaking English teacher comes into the frame, but their person specification stating anyone from North America, is female and a new graduate. That’s a very specific demographic and screams of commercialism of the worst kind. This is what has been touted as ‘McESL’. Glitzy, desirable but with entirely with no substance or containing no academic value at all. My thoughts? The market is saturated, and the businessmen with little or no interest in education can perpetuate their line of McESL. This is certainly not confined to just Korea. Most of North-eastern Asia does this employment practice.

Up-to date

Minimum standards have gone up, but, in light of ‘professional development’ anyone who is serious in a career in ESL should actually keep up. By this I mean professional development. The act of making yourself more eligible for jobs  by gaining qualifications and experience. Very rarely will an employer provide chances for furthering education. As I’ve learnt, professional development or, ‘P.D’ is something you have to do yourself. They can take on the form of on-line courses, attending seminars and webinars. All of which have their advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, webinars are the best since you’re in the comfort of your own home.

So, for the answer is there, develop within the profession. Spend money on yourself.

Brown book, lesson plans just fall out

Lessonplan book.jpgI’ve always kept a book for my lesson plans, in the thought that I if I ever had the chance to repeat the lesson, I could. There are some ESL teachers that can do without written notes, and some that need them. I, sadly are the ones that need notes. I’ve only ever repeated a lesson plan once. Or maybe twice. This was an old book, and there is another book that followed it. The brown book wasn’t used up, it was just getting a bit, plump. Too many photocopies of handouts. Now days my material is in electronic form, with many gigabytes of data used up in this effort.

When I put it out to stud with the other books and recycled it, it was a hefty and over-stuffed with handouts. The page corners were stained brown from water when my bag got wet. Valuable, and I cite it as a point in time when my teaching was at a certain stage. That is, without CELTA training but, trying to teach within a system that was definitely teacher centered.

Sub-title task, resulted in nothing sub-par

Cowboypics_zps7a2377d5.jpgI tried a communicative writing task last week, with some results. The students were given a strip of pictures and, they were asked “write the sub-titles” for the strip. I explained it as a movie that was missing it’s sub-titles. The results, were varied, if not entertaining. But, it did get them speaking, as a way of feeding back on their work, they read aloud their neighbours work. After a week of the same strip (though different classes) the results are consistent at both levels. The more able classes produced good output, with some of it often being funny. While the lower level classes and students produced… lesser works. Okay, I wasn’t expecting a Shakespeare sonnet, but given free writing practice, my students never failed to amuse.Snippets_zps234aa95e.jpg