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.

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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.

Maximising STT, failure within earshot

IMG_20120217_155054While I was in Shenyang, I got to spend a lot of time in one of the local Starbucks. To paint the scene, the first thing you hit after you’ve gone through the revolving doors is the counter. You’re greeted (in Chinese of course) by the staff. I stroll up to the counter and order my usual hot chocolate, grande’ size. The shop is normally crowded but I’m usually able to find a seat. Coffee shops tend to be places where all sorts of people meet. Not uncommon that I’ve seen foreigners congregate here for whatever reasons. I’ve seen a bible club run, meetings occur (locals and foreigners alike) and of course the 1 to 1 English lesson. I have to say that this guy was talking way too much. When I took my CELTA training, the specific teaching footnote was to maximise student talk time (STT). They are afterall, there to practise their English, not to sit and hear someone preach. Having to sit in close proximity to the ‘1 to 1’ couple, was annoying. CELTA, I think, had turned me into a stern critic of English teaching. This way or nothing. To be fair, the student did look on the shy side, or heaven forbid was seeking advice, but there’s always room for improvement, on both sides of the fence.

CELTA, CELTA, open sesame!

CELTA in the background

It came as a bit of a surprise when I applied for a job, two in fact, that the same day I’d get a reply.

CELTA was a month long course in English teaching. If it were any longer I’d had lost more hair worrying over it. Every time I’d combed my hand through my hair I’d gotten a strand of hair coming away. Maybe it was  just natural attrition.

Months in preparing for the course, a month in relative purgatory or, “study jail”.

So many ups and downs over my progress on a day-to-day basis, I thought I’d was passing one day, the next day I thought I was failing.

I have been to boot camp, and I have survived. One of the tutors said that doors would open once I’d gotten CELTA. I never realized it’d be that soon.

CELTA, CELTA, black and blue

Potentially a book of pain. But definitely a source of discomfort and constant hard work.

Burger to go, extra cheese

Grammar to me is the basis of English teaching. Technically I’m employed as speaking teacher, but holistically I see myself as a highly paid consultant. In this consultancy, I converse with the workers onsite, addressing what to teach and how to deliver the lesson. Grammar in this case fades into the background and is suppliemented by random conversation points.

It always shits me that these converstation points have no substance at all. As drummed into me and the rest of the recruits at CELTA, “no task without a goal, no result without feedback”. There are other caveats but thats beside the point. I wish there were points to the lessons, but the drive for my lessons as perviewed by the KET is to stimulate interest in learning, English in this case. Enter EBS, the national education broadcast. Short vignettes of about 5 minutes long, the voice actors putting on this horrible faux voice, that all Koreans (and possibly Japanese) think are so cute. I did everything to stop from vomitting, not from the voice acting, but from the lack of substance.

The video posted here, is very moderate and is devoid of all cheese. Native speakers speaking naturally. While I would have posted an example with one with cheese I couldn’t find one.

Phonetic alphabet, dyslexic associations


When I learnt that the KET was teaching the phonetic alphabet, I asked her if I could sit in on the class. Much to the bemusement of some students. Hehe, the teacher has become a student. Learning the phoneic alphabet is a combination of frustration in trying to associate the symbols with the sounds.

Trying to read it is the hardest part, and it’s the closest experience akin to dyslexia I can get. Why am I putting myself through all of this? I’m doing it to prepare for my CELTA course that’s coming up in six months. That too, is also going to be frustrating, but in learning it now, it’ll be less I have to ‘take in’, giving me more time to produce when the course starts.

The rather colourful flash cards were post cards cut in half. Cutting the actual letter out from the sheet and then matching it on the reverse with the answer took me 3 hours or so. No mistakes here.