Teach English in Zhenglu Zhen - Changzhou Shi

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At the time of this writing, I have never held an official teaching position in any school or institution. Nonetheless, I have had some experience teaching and leading English Literature classes. I started college studies in 2010 as an English Literature major, and since then have obtained a B.A. and an M.A. in the field. As such, my training is based on the fundamental teachings of Literary Studies, such as close reading, literary theory, analysis and interpretation. Indeed, the first time I was ever put in the role of educator involved leading class discussion on a chapter from Piri Thomas’s novel, Down These Mean Streets. I prepared by writing down parts of what I wanted to say and rehearsing them with the professor, who instructed me as a voice coach would by helping me with my enunciation, pronunciation and tone. Being the first time I partook in such an activity, my performance was less than stellar—I developed a case of stage fright at the beginning and stumbled over my words, but as the exercise went on, I became more relaxed and confident, and at the end was able to obtain a good grade on the discussion. My most significance teaching experience, however, came a few years ago during my Literary Criticism class. Being a graduate English Literature course, the students were all adult learners with different degrees of experience in English, and my task was to talk about several theories for the entire duration of the class. As my chosen topic was psychology, I had to discuss different theories from philosophers and psychologists such as Freud, Lacan, and Saussure as they pertained to literary criticism. For this exercise, I prepared by first deciding what points I was going to emphasize from their writings, and in which order I was going to introduce them. I timed myself speaking so I could verify how long it took me to cover each section and also jotted down what I thought were questions I might get asked. Before that exercise, I had no idea of the amount of preparation that a teacher goes through before actually stepping inside the classroom. When I look back at that experience now, I see a lot of things I would have changed or done differently. My biggest mistake was not incorporating the class into the discussion as much as I should have. I only asked my classmates for their input when discussing Saussure’s theory of the signifier and the signified, from his Course in General Linguistics, and I see now that by doing so, made them feel like active participants in the discussion as opposed to the rest of the time where I merely explained the material but did not ask what they thought of the theories discussed. Educating myself in TEFL has helped me reevaluate my previous teaching experiences and see what specifics I need to improve on. I wholly feel that my background in Literature has not only fomented my own receptive and productive skills but has also given me the tools to teach them to other students. Of course, teaching ESL or TEFL naturally involves applying different techniques and knowledge than what is utilized in Literature, and I recognize that I still have much to learn about teaching a second language. Nonetheless, I believe that facets of what I have learned translate well to ESL and that this can even be advantageous as I work on my style of teaching. My hope is that my combined Literature and ESL/TEFL training will lead to a rewarding teaching career.