I have been very fortunate to experience different areas of teaching ESL.
In Indonesia, I had conversation classes where I picked the topics and lead the discussion and I also taught grammar classes where I either followed a textbook or made up my own lessons.
In Turkey, I followed a specific curriculum, but was given the leisure to make up my own lessons.
Here in Japan, I teach an international course where me and the other ALT both, follow a textbook while being given the leeway to teach the lessons as we please, and also make up our own lessons. I also teach at another school one day a week where I have nothing to do with the lessons and am really there just to aid the teacher.
It’s these experiences that allow you to see where your strengths are.
I definitely prefer the lessons where I am given leeway to connect more with the students and make up my own lessons. I just think I am way better at those. My background and upbringing helps me relate more to the students at this level. Whereas when I am teaching straight grammar, I sometimes feel like a bit of a poser because I’m no expert in those arenas. I just happen to be a native speaker of English.
One thing that stood out about my master’s program was that they emphasized that we weren’t really just teaching English but working on developing the tools to understand the plight of the English language learner and using those tools to help them in their quest to learn English. I feel way more comfortable saying that is my role teaching overseas than I do portraying the role of the “English Expert”
Me and Kate : Do you have it memorized?
Kate: Well you’ve been doing good so far so why don’t you just try.
Student: …. *recites entire speech from memory perfectly*
Me and Kate:
zoesucksatteaching said: in the language school I taught in in America, we banned them, except at level 0 and 1 (out of 12 levels)
Yeh I would definitely be on board with that. Or maybe if they had a program installed that was more ESL friendly, like the ESL online dictionaries that break down the words into basic terms.
livingaseoulfullife answered: Its cultural not to question the teacher since they are seen as the fount of knowledge.
I understand that part but it seems crazy. The teacher says “Tell me which words you don’t understand and we’ll go over them” and then you don’t respond and consult your dictionary instead and then lose points on the assignment because your sentences don’t make sense.
I’m learning. I am a laid back teacher. I always emphasize in my classes that you don’t get in trouble if you ask questions. I let them know that I get more annoyed when you don’t ask questions and then get something wrong That approach worked well in Indonesia and Turkey. I guess I just have to create a remix for Japan. :)
Hey other ALTs in Japan, do your kids use these too?
I really think it’s a disservice to them. From what I’m gathering, it doesn’t seem to give them a proper definition of a word, so they can actually understand what it means, but supplies them with a plethora of thesaurus alternatives.
I’m grading these summer journals that the students did and some of these sentences are just crazy! It’s like they replace a word that they don’t understand with another word that they not only also don’t understand but we don’t use in regular English.
One thing I am noticing that is definitely different teaching here is that the students don’t seem as willing to ask for clarification on something, instead they just consult their dictionaries.
Maybe it’s just my students?
It doesn’t bother me, It’s just a drastic change from what I experienced in Turkey and Indonesia where when I would speak with the kids and they didn’t understand a word, they would straight up just say “Teacher I don’t know that word.”
So I started another tumblr.
I didn’t want it to clash with this one cuz I like having this one dedicated to my teaching experiences and interesting things about English.
My new blog is just about me being a foreigner in Japan. It’s nothing fancy. Mostly just pics and random commentary on interesting things I notice.
Feel free to check it out. :)