Teach English in Luji Zhen - Suqian Shi

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Personal Teaching Experience (with focus on lesson-planning) How does my personal teaching experience value add to my profession as a EFL teacher/lecturer? When I first took up the position as a Business English teacher, I was skeptical as I have never taught a big group of students (varying between 25-30 students) in a seminar room or classroom setting. In fact, I was not exactly trained as a teacher. My only reassurance is my experience as a trained speech and language therapist in England and an MBA qualification. Initially, I felt anxious and at times nervous before classes commenced. However, I knew that I would probably learn a lot. So, with full of enthusiasm and armed with a ‘can do’ mentality, I was able to overcome my anxiety after the first few weeks of the semester. In fact, I realised that it was so much fun interacting with the students, I never had to drag myself to my classes. One of the key reasons I enjoyed the teaching experience was because of the good mix of students who were motivated to learn in my classes. Given that attendance at a German university is not always compulsory for students, not all the students would turn up for the 8:00 am class for Business English. However, this was not the situation with my students. Most of them showed up. The following are some highlights on what I have learned teaching Business English to German students at a local German university. The subjects that I have to teach are Business English with focus on four key subjects: Economics, Organisation Management, Cross-Cultural Communications and Managerial Issues. Most of my students are German native speakers. It is challenging for some of the students to communicate in English, as they rarely converse in English except for attending English language classes. Due to the lack of spoken and written English language practice coupled with the need to learn new business-related terminologies, some students simply could not cope. On the other hand, there are typically another group of students in my classes who are better performers; they are more exposed to using English as a mode of communication, usually after their overseas or local internship. Some are older students with different levels of work experience and have greater exposure to an English speaking environment. As a result of the varying standard of English language capabilities, it is challenging to get everyone on the same page ( especially in courses like Organisation Management and Managerial Issues). Before the commencement of classes, I always look through my feedback and reflection notes from previous lessons. I would run through my teaching processes including my updated powerpoint slides, identifying trouble spots, questions to raise in class, activities to engage the students, include additional research if any, ensuring that I have sufficient printed materials on articles that I want to practice or share with the students. A typical lesson planning session for my ‘culture’ class (Lesson 1: 45 min block) would include: Aims: (Teacher’s notes) 1. Ice breakers: Students introduce themselves to each other in pairs / Teacher introduce herself 2. Introduction and expectations of course 3. Syllabus and Virtual Campus (VC) password to assess course materials 4. Introduction to what constitute culture 5. Definition of culture Lesson Planning: 1. Objective :Class cohesion and clarity of goals Description of Activity : Students speak to each other in pairs or in groups of three. They also discuss what they expect from the course Type of Activity : S-S : 10 min 2. Objective : Overview of course and exam / VC password (Materials: Laptop or tablets) Description of Activity : Students introduce themselves and their expectations of course. Teacher comments on goals Type of Activity : plenary : 25 min Teacher goes through syllabus, hands out VC password and checks that it works, explain exam (T-S : 10 min) 3. Objective : To appreciate that culture is an encompassing concept and to provide vocabulary on their ideas Q: What are some cultural misunderstanding you have experienced ? Type of Activity: S-S : 10 min (Materials: whiteboard / powerpoint) Teacher gathers examples on board (plenary : 10 min) Q: How would you classify / categorise them? (S-S : 10 min) Teacher helps with new vocabulary (plenary : 10 min) (Materials: Handout) 4. Objective : Definition of culture Description of Activity : Teacher asks for definition of culture (plenary: 5 min) "5 Sometimes, an entire lesson revolved around a class activity. My lesson plan would look like: Aims: (Teacher’s notes : Consolidation of material to date) For this class, I have large pages and colourful pens ready to distribute to groups. I would be ready to have class in groups and groups be able to move to next group. If the class is very big: To avoid having groups which are too big and /or having too many groups, divide class into two main halves which can again subdivide into groups. 1.Students gather questions from course in groups in Etherpad 2.Questions examined 3.Questions divided up and allocated to students to work on in groups 4.Students switch groups and add to answers of subsequent group 5.Students return to original groups and check answers 6.Students present answers 7.Students photo answers to upload in VC (virtual campus) 8.Homework In the course of my Business English teaching stint, I learned that teaching requires more than just power point presentation, regurgitating new terminologies, setting tasks and homework. It requires a lot of motivation and reinforcement with students, seeking feedback from students and colleagues. I am gratified to have gathered lots of collegial support from my fellow colleagues. More importantly, one should have a sense of dedication, vocation and passion to teach and inspire the younger generation. Recent research has indicated that teaching experience is positively related with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career. Studies have shown that as teachers gain experience, their students are more likely to perform better on other measures of success beyond test scores, such as school attendance (Kini & Poldolsky, 2016). As well, the effectiveness of the teachers can be enhanced when they teach in a supportive and collegial working environment (Kini & Poldolsky, 2016). These conclusions indicate that policymakers should support policies and promote investments that advance the professional growth of an experienced teaching workforce and increase the retention of experienced teachers. This would invariably apply to the EFL teachers in different educational set-up. As I looked back at my 3 years stint as an EFL teacher in Germany, I am glad that I took up this professional challenge. My teaching stint has indeed been fulfilling and I believe I have learned loads from the classes that I have taught, as my students did. Reference: Kini, T. & Podolsky, A. (2016). Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research (research brief). Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. Submitted by Jane Burmeister