Teach English in Fuchi Zhen - Huangshi Shi

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Brilliant teachers are those who not only know the subject well, but have enough empathy to understand which techniques may be used to inspire students and unlock their potential. I have been following this concept for over 18 years now while working as a teacher in Brazil, but his has never been so clear to me as it is today, after pursuing the TEFL course with teaching practice in Paris. I have always taught English in Brazil, which has Portuguese as the national language. During these years of practice I could test, deploy, change and check the efficiency of teaching skills to students who had the same native language as mine, from kids to adults. Although in most of the occasions I was not supposed to use translation in the classroom, the connection with Portuguese was most of the time used by the students to understand concepts or even words. When I decided to apply for the TEFL course, I had in mind my need to learn how to teach or even interact with students did not speak the same language as me, in a way to challenge myself to improve my teaching skills. So that, I chose Paris for the combined TEFL course, teaching during 10 days in July, this year and the decision couldn't have been better. The TEFL course in Paris represented a milestone in my career for several reasons. The first one had to do with the chance to have a native English teacher (Mr. Steven Jacobson) sharing his broad skills and guiding me and the other trainees on techniques to improve the efficiency of teaching in class. This rich experience exchange enabled me to analyze his behavior while observing the students, compare the cultural differences and they way each one learns. One of the main techniques that guided the synergy to the rest of the course had to do with the ice-breaker with the students at the first day of teaching practice. Mr. Jacobson encouraged us to interact directly with them by playing a "game" of two trues and one lie, in which the students had to guess what was incorrect about the trainee. Apparently this was just a game, but to us, the trainees, it was an important observation tool for understanding their behavior, checking fluency of speaking, their listening capacity and set the tone for the rest of the teaching practice. To me, this was a really valuable lesson on how to motivate students in a first class to talk, interact, share and bring students and teachers closer. Still connecting to my previous assessment on how to unlock students' potential, the multicultural group we had represented another challenge and opportunity for us to improve our techniques. We were a multicultural trainee group, with people from the United States, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Australia and Brazil teaching students from Vietnam, France, Venezuela, Spain, Belgium and China. In common, students had the French language as their domains, but not all the teachers were fluent in French - I don't speak French. This really pushed us to be creative, have empathy in understanding cultural backgrounds of the students and their learning process. Having had Marina as the Greek teacher and observing her teaching practice of a language that was uncommon to all of us really helped me to improve my skills. She had the same challenges that we had in facing a multicultural class unfamiliar with her native language. But the way she transmitted the content - mainly with oral practicing from day 1, giving examples, drawing, pointing to the map and encouraging her students to repeat sentences and reproduce their own - really helped us to see that translation is not needed if you recur to different efficient alternatives to teach. I myself was able to put some of these skills in practice while teaching three French-Chinese kids, aged from 4 to 11. They were in different levels of maturity and language acquisition, but adopting this model of encouraging them to speak helped and made them engaged to the content. Finally, another observation I can make considering my training practice in Paris is about the importance of having themes of interest for students during a group class. Maybe this is one of the most difficult aspects for a teacher, considering a multicultural group, but necessary to keep them motivated. The first classes observed - with the ice-breaker and after with the former trainee - helped to figure out what path to follow. Although not all the students had the same interests by certain topics or even the different kinds of exercises, I was able in my classes to have a common general topic (Culture in class 1 and Progress in class 2) and guide exercises, questions, speaking opportunities to each of them, focusing on their strengths first, and then, suggesting improvements in their learning process. This experience was really helpful to make me a TEFL teacher. Besides, it's important to emphasize the relevance of the theory provided in the additional material for the combined course. All the chapters brought important considerations, hands-on tips ready to be put in place with the students. I am really grateful to have had this opportunity and I consider myself a better teacher, able to inspire students after everything I've learnt.