Teach English in Biantang Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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My name is Nicolas Bernal and I am a Puppeteer, visual artist, and ESL Teacher. I have been employed at an elementary school in Lopburi, Thailand for the last 2 years. I would describe my teaching style as creative and fun. I always employ TPR methods in the classroom and I am passionate about using visual and dynamic art as a tool for learning. I consider having artistic and creative skills it's a great advantage for being a successful teacher. With these abilities, the teacher can constantly produce new ideas that suit the student's needs and also get the effect of surprising them every class and therefore motivate them to learn. As an artist and a teacher, my main goal is to make a balance between the teaching content and the artistic development produced for the class, making one thing complement the other. When a puppeteer is creating a puppet show, it has to determine different surprises during the story that will catch the audience's eye and will maintain the focus on the performance. I associate this idea with teaching. During the class, it is good to have one or two surprises going on. When I first arrived at my school in Thailand I didn't have much. The school provided books, but none of the students could read properly or even understand the letters. The methods of the Thai English teacher were reduced to make them memorize words and shapes. But not genuinely stimulate authentic learning. This was the right moment to set up a plan and think of materials I could create to catch their attention, motivate them, teach them and help them improve their English. As a puppeteer, I had to create puppets, but along this, I also created masks, costumes, and some installations. Most of my other teacher friends thought that I was spending fortunes in creating these materials, but the truth was that I was using the recycle materials that were on my reach. I did spend some extra time working on the materials, but the outcome I get from it was invaluable. At the end of my experience I can guarantee every class flowed very well, the kids learn and had fun at the same time and I could prove that making fun and creative class makes a difference. Students are curious in every class and also get more involved in all of the activities. They can also sense some preparation and recognize how special the occasion is when new elements out of the ordinary join their class. I want to mention 5 essential steps to take into account while creating artistic material for ESL class. 1. Recycle. Use plastic bottles, used paper, cardboard, fabric and as many possible things you can think of. It's also useful to propose to the students to help you out. They can also surprise themselves to see what you can do with recycle material. 2. Simplicity. While creating a puppet, create colorful and nice characters but make sure any student from 6 to 12 can draw them. Make them simple. This will help you to make cartoons, worksheets, board instructions or any other material that you can relate to this character. Also if they are easy to draw, it's easy to make fast exercises in the notebook. In my school, I created 3 characters: Their shapes are very easy to make and they are very easy to identify. Jim the yellow rabbit. Ted the purple cat and Mac the blue dog. With them, we played all sorts of games, created comics in the notebooks and recorded videos. 3. Work with the senses and with context While doing installations think about the 5 senses. It will help you create different interactions you haven't seen and this also will open space to introduce new vocabulary, using more diverse activities that involve students to taste, hear, see, smell and touch. It's also very important to play with their own context if you are creating maps or activity outside that involve being a tour guide, make sure you use local places and things related to their own culture. This will give them more confidence and will make them focus more on the desire for teaching vocabulary. 4. Videos. Take videos and photos of everything. Nowadays it's very important to use technology to reinforce learning. You can create a fun role play, record it and then upload it on Youtube. The students might go and search for it at their house without being homework and look at it just for fun. This will mean you are motivating them to reinforce what they just learned. 5. Patience Use games and other ways of teaching to complement the lesson. The artistic demonstration is very useful as an Activate part of a lesson. It's very important to apply the ESA methodology, during the Engage part you could explain and have a small talk of what will happen later. Or even you as a teacher make a short demonstration with the material created. On the study part, make some drilling to guarantee they have the words right and they are comprehending what they are saying. Then in the Activate, will be the time to put everything into practice. Sometimes it's important to take 2 weeks working towards a big activate activity in order to properly prepare the students to perform and do something they feel proud of later. Taking into consideration the time you spend with each class per week. In my case I only see each class one hour per week, meaning I had to be very patient and spend longer times in each topic so I could guarantee they understood everything. Before doing videos or specific games with the artistic material, take your time to drill specific useful vocabulary, they might get a bit distracted at first, but when they see the artistic material they will make an effort to remember so they can participate. As a conclusion, I will highly recommend to all the teachers to explore their talents and get to try creating their own materials for class. It will be also helpful if, in the universities, education careers make various modules of art knowledge, Composition, and materials. Teachers should be able to have creative and artistic skills. Sometimes books do not fit every student and the teacher must see the student's needs and create something for him. I also understand not every teacher has the skill to create a costume or a mask, but I can assure there are several multiple ways to do this. Finally, I will like to share my goodbye video for my School, because in this video I can demonstrate all the different materials I created for ESL teaching: and may give an idea of what I mean with how this could make a difference in the classroom.