Volunteer teaching , lesson planning and classroom management I?d like to write about my experience


I'd like to write about my experience in volunteer teaching with an ALT, Assistant Language Teacher, at the local elementary school.

Through this experience, the following important points that were covered by the TEFL course have been re-confirmed.

1. Planning and preparation before lessons.

2. Usage of the whiteboard/blackboard, flash cards, and the CD player.

4. Facilities: classroom or gym'

3. Body language: gestures and eye contact

4. Voice control: volume, pronunciation, and accent

5. Discipline

Chiba prefecture, north east of Tokyo, where I live has been employing ALTs from all over the world for a number of years. Most of them are just out of college. Some of them have lived in Japan as exchange students in the past. ALT stands for assistant language teacher and therefore they normally support a Japanese nationally certified English teacher during their lessons at a local junior high school.

Once a week, each ALT goes to a different elementary school and stays there for a full day to communicate in and teach simple English to students to generate interest in learning English. In Japan, English is not part of the curricula of elementary schools. Therefore, there´s no English teacher on staff. In most cases, there are a few or no teachers who are bilingual. One reason why I volunteered to help with the lesson is to go between the Japanese teachers and the ALT. The other reason is to be of service to the community I live in. Since I work full time as a learning and development specialist for a corporation in Tokyo, the only time I spend where I live is week nights and weekends. I rarely get a chance to see my neighbors or children in the area.

As a part of my job, I visit several schools a year to do their future planning support, but not in the town I live in. When I thought about what I can do to give back to my community other than monthly community cleaning, the thought came to me that I should help the school through utilizing my teaching ability.

I asked my son's teacher at school if there was any opportunity for me to help. She came back to me after talking with the principal and asked me to help as a go-between between the local teachers and an ALT.

When working with any public school, I need to be a bit more flexible in cooperating with the school system. School systems tend to be rather rigid with schedules that aren't finalized the previous month. When volunteering to help out at the school, I had to wait a month for their proposal. However, my schedule didn't match. In the end, we found the date that worked for both of us.

I didn't meet with the ALT prior to that day to plan and to prepare for the lessons. In a book titled, A Perfect Meeting, David Sherman wrote that 90% of success of any meeting is predetermined by one's preparation. Furthermore, I often relate this theory to participants of the facilitation training workshops that I teach at work.

I think as I look back that I took volunteer teaching lightly. Volunteer teaching is not different than any other paid work. When I take volunteer work seriously, I take time to plan and prepare. It was a good eye opener for me that private volunteers have no differences.

Because I hadn't communicated with the ALT, the problem wasn't only the lack of lesson planning. I went to the school and met the ALT for the first time that day. She seemed a bit stressed for she thought she would be reviewed and evaluated by me. Luckily we had a good 30 minutes to talk about why I was there and how I could help her. We became friends quickly and it also helped her to relax.

She showed me what she was given by the local teacher. The condition she was in was worse than I had anticipated. She wasn't at all informed about what she was expected to do. There was a lesson plan for each class with only a few indications of what the ALT was to do in each of them. Some were in Japanese which the ALT couldn't understand.

Before each lesson we had ten-minute breaks and after the first lesson, we had one hour to review and re plan the lesson for the day. We taught four lessons of all different grades and stayed at school all day from nine a.m. to three p.m. Overall, the entire lesson went well with the full participation of all the students. Furthermore, it was a good experience for me to re-evaluate what I have learned throughout this course of TEFL.