Teach English in Picheng Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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Over the last two years of teaching English in Japan to kindergarteners through junior high students, I have worked with teachers from a variety of backgrounds. They consist of local Japanese English teachers, foreign teachers, and my peers within the same work organization. While it is necessary and important to have studied and know the English language, along with some cultural understanding, there are other qualities teachers possess that benefits students. Some personal qualities I have seen and learned include the dedication for and love of teaching, enjoy working and connecting with students, and acting as counselor and mentor to students. When it comes to having the dedication to and love of teaching, it can make or break the situation for both students and teachers. The teachers can only be as dedicated to teaching if it is something they want to do and students can only learn so much from a nondedicated teacher. Dedication and love of teaching can be seen through the teacher’s attitude both inside and outside the classroom. For example, some of the junior high school English teachers I have worked with heavily emphasize student’s use and practice of English. This comes in the form of setting high expectations on the students through repeated drilling, English Q&A sessions at the start of each class lesson, using as much English as possible, and make learning English fun and interesting. One teacher always utilized the first 10 or 15 minutes for an English activity before each class lesson. Another teacher forces students to repeat drilling sessions after correcting their mistakes. These teachers also speak English with me in front of the students and outside the classroom allowing students to see and feel more comfortable using English. Students can see the importance and use of English instead of just studying it because it is mandatory. An increase in student’s active and improved use of the English language is evident in their writing prompts, tests, and speaking abilities with me as their local foreign teacher. Whether it is a simple “Hello, how are you?” or carrying a full English conversation, the students can do so because of their teacher’s dedication to and love of teaching English. Having the ability to enjoy working and connecting with students, specifically younger learners, plays an important role. This builds trust and motivates students to learn and actively participate. In the past, some teachers I have worked with would not engage in any sort of physical contact with the children, had a dislike for music and dance, or did not bother to address disruptive situations when they arise. While it is understandable that teachers cannot address all types of situations, they should not be afraid to demonstrate activities, dance and sing with children, or show them attention through small things like giving high-fives and praises. Teachers should also not be afraid to act and look silly in front of students, especially younger learners. Positive effects of connecting with students include active greetings with the teacher in English, students talking about or showing their individual interests, and their genuine interest and participation in class. English is already foreign enough for students, so it is beneficial for teachers to have a relationship or connection with them. Teachers also act as counselors and mentors to students. Here in Japan, teachers conduct home visits and become aware of students' home life. This allows teachers to have a better understanding of students' needs at school. Teachers also teach behavior and social rules. For example, having signs in the classroom emphasizing positive language use, or awarding positive types of behaviors, even showing students how to behave through the teacher’s interaction with other teachers. Teachers should also be open to students when there are issues they want to talk about. For example, teachers not condoning negative behaviors between students or understanding that students learn differently and at different rates. Overall, teachers play important roles in shaping the foundation of students’ education, and in this case promoting learning and use of the English language. It is important to have personal qualities such as dedication to and love of teaching, enjoy working and connecting with students, and acting as counselor and mentor to students. Students look up to teachers to teach and guide them so their learning environment should be one that is positive, fun, and beneficial. Teaching can be a rewarding experience despite it not being everyone’s dream job. Teachers have a duty and responsibility to be the best they can be in shaping their students for future success.