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Teach English in HAyehutong Zhen - Baotou Shi
I took this course in order to prepare myself for teaching English in Albania as part of my duties as a Peace Corps volunteer. While learning a lot about the English language and how to teach it, I was also able to pinpoint some potential problems my future Albanian students might face based on my prior knowledge of the country combined with the information shared in these lessons. These problem areas are likely to include limited resources in classrooms, temptation to use native language in class with limited access to English outside of the classroom, and sole familiarity with conservative teaching methods. Perhaps the biggest problem for learners of English (and their teachers) in Albania is the dearth of resources that the majority of schools have at their disposal. This is especially true for schools in the less densely populated and mountainous portions of the country. Course books tend to become scarce and even electricity cannot be relied upon all of the time. Many classrooms are equipped with nothing but a blackboard and some desks. Luckily, this course has offered many suggestions which could help English teachers and learners in these underprivileged schools. While course books with worksheets or activities might be hard to come by, there are many websites with these resources which teachers can utilize to give learners alternate ways to become more proficient in English. Furthermore, instead of using authentic visual props or computer-printed pictures, one can create these props by hand by either drawing pictures or with recycled household waste. This problem of limited resources for Albanian learners to use in order to help learn English can certainly be overcome by resourceful teachers. Another potential problem for leaners of English in Albania is that they will likely be part of a monolingual group with very limited access to English outside of the classroom. This will make it hard for students to resist the urge to revert to their native tongue inside the classroom as well as to find ways to practice English outside of the classroom. For a teacher to help Albanian learners overcome these obstacles, a few things can be done. Firstly, a teacher must be sure to gently insist that only English is used inside the classroom. Of course, strictly banning Albanian in the classroom entirely would not be the correct course of action; ensuring that the teacher never uses Albanian, making sure that the learners understand the rationale for the decision to encourage only English speaking, and choosing a good position in the class where the teacher can monitor the use of English are all good ways to accomplish an entirely English-speaking classroom. As for limited access to English outside the classroom, a teacher in Albania can assign homework to counter this, as well as suggest certain sites on the internet or English TV shows which the students might find amusing to look at during their downtime. Finally, a big problem Albanian learners face is the general adherence of the majority of Albanian teachers to conservative teaching methods, namely the grammar-translation method. Therefore, when teachers decide to use other methodologies which are more modern and effective, such as the Engage, Study, Activate Method, these learners may not have the necessary learning skills or familiarity with the method to have initial success. In order to overcome this problem, it is important for teachers to be persistent, vigilant, and, above all, use the DEGO (Demonstrate, Elicit, Give Out) Method when assigning activities. Furthermore, Albanian learners may, at first, be uncomfortable with the expected increase in their talking time because they are likely to be more accustomed to a large amount of their lessons being devoted to teacher talking time. However, it is important to be gentle and build the confidence of these learners so that they eventually become more comfortable with this teaching methodology. These three problems are some potential trouble zones for learners of English in Albania. Luckily, with the skills taught in this course, I have ideas on how to overcome these foreseeable difficulties. What’s more, Albanians may actually have many distinct advantages over many other citizens of the world when it comes to learning English: they already use the Latin alphabet and Albanian does not contain many sounds different than those found in English; Albanians respect teachers in their culture, especially Western teachers; many Albanians, even young ones, aspire to travel to America, so their motivation for learning English should be generally higher than the general motivation levels in most other countries. So, despite the problems Albanian English learners may have, there is certainly a bright side to being an English learner in Albania.