Teach English in Hekou Zhen - Nantong Shi

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I have worked as an English teacher for almost 4 years at a local language center in Ho Chi Minh city. Previously, I was doing that as a part-time teacher for around 3 years until I got a chance to devote and commit full-time for it in mid-2019. I could see the changes in the way I have taught in the past. At the beginning, I started with students who are in primary and secondary schools. It is called Junior program. Two years ago, I enrolled in teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL or pre-test-preparation) program for those who want to take either TOEFL or IELTS in the future. Hence, my students’ demographics range from 9 to 24 years old. It is indeed challenging since I have to deliver a wide range of different teaching materials and the way I manage the classroom, yet I find it rewarding and exciting. All my classes are arranged in the evening after school and on weekends. Each class is around 2 hours long with 10 minutes break in between. Sometimes, I have to teach two classes every evening or up to five or six classes on weekend. My life has moved fast forward, but the only thing that has remained the same is the excitement that I see from passing my knowledge on and deliver English lessons to my beloved students. What is more interesting is… currently, we have experienced a massive concern on novel coronavirus (nCov) resulting in center and school closures until March; hence, everything has been conducted online via ClassIn platform. This is a very first time in my life doing online teaching. We had around 3-4 hours training session to understand how to use the platform and how to deal with certain online situations. After two weeks, I realize that it is quite effective and convenient since no one has to leave their house to go that far to the center. It is an opportunity to create a more engaging, interactive and exciting experience for both students and teachers. What I have learnt from teaching in the past 4 years? First, it is a huge change for me from the first day I started teaching. I have learnt how to be more compromising, patient, understanding and persuasive. Specially, I often encounter situations where my students don’t listen to me, distract others in the classroom or don’t follow the class’ rules. As a teacher, I deal with these on a weekly basis by winning their trust. I often sit down and explain to them what they should to do optimize their potentials and how to be better in learning English. I would say my successful rate is around 85% of the time. Second thing is I should be positive and smile most of the time for every single class. Not only does it help to relax whenever the situation is so frustrating or overwhelming but also it changes the attitudes of my students toward me. The third thing is I don’t need to be an expert in every single aspect when it comes to English. I often see some of my students are so knowledgeable or have better ideas than me. When I don’t know an answer, I turn it around by either giving my students the technology and tools to actively find the answer themselves or getting everyone involved. Fourthly, it’s not about me – it’s about my students. I have gradually been switching my way of teaching from teach-focused to students-focused perspective. I learn how to patiently listen to what my students struggle. At first, either my students or I don’t know how to deal with the other; however, we slowly form a connection between us after certain difficulties or misunderstandings. Finally, I feel like I have been getting more than what I have been giving to them. Even though I don’t teach some students anymore, they are still happy to share what they have been through and talk to me occasionally whenever we have a chance to catch up.