Teach English in ZizhuAng Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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Currently I am teaching literature and writing in English at a private high school in Guangzhou, China. While my role is not specifically as an ELL teacher, the fact that all of my students are ELLs has necessitated me learning more about ELL instructional methods over the course of this school year. Though I have always had ELLs in my classes, over nine years of teaching it was not until now that I have taught a course with only ELLs. Having been teaching this group of students for about six months now, however, I have found that no professional experience has been as important, and for a number of reasons - some of which I have discovered on my own, and some of which I have discovered through this course - I strongly recommend that all teachers in English-speaking countries undertake ELL instruction in practice and take a TEFL course to support their professional development. The first reason that teachers should complete a TEFL course is that the course highlights essential frameworks for teaching that are relevant for ELLs and non-ELLs alike. Classrooms in most English-speaking countries are increasingly diverse and more inclusive of ELLs. For that reason, it is crucial for any teacher to have experience teaching ELLs, regardless of the subject matter that they teach. Instruction should be adapted for many learning differences, including differences in native language. But even for students who are not ELLs, the TEFL course contains important information and reminders about teaching that are useful for all students. For example, the different theoretical approaches to teaching language are interesting thought pieces for English teachers, and the Engage-Study-Activate method of planning lessons provides a framework for structuring all lesson plans. Moreover, the TEFL course reviews many critical grammatical functions that may be unfamiliar to a native English speaker - for myself, the conditional was an example of a unit that was very informative, and new information for me even as an experienced English teacher. The second reason that teachers should complete a TEFL course is that it provides a new frame of reference for many of the key assumptions that are made, particularly by English teachers, in instruction. For myself, the key principles of TEFL instruction overturn many assumptions I have had about teaching certain skills. For example, one key assumption of composition teachers is that it’s important to get students to write frequently and often, and to get students to produce as much as possible. But my experiences as a teacher and experiences in learning the material in this course make me feel that it is important to delay complex writing for ELLs who may not be prepared. Another key assumption in many English classrooms is the importance of engaging students in authentic material, but for English language newcomers, authentic material may not be suitable. At the same time, experiences in the course and with ELLs have taught me that many of my assumptions about teaching were true: that, for example, creating a positive environment in which all students are included is fundamental. Completing a TEFL course should be an important aspect of all teachers' training, not only those teachers who are interested in teaching ELLs. Because it makes us rethink many key assumptions for instruction, and because it teaches skills relevant for all students, TEFL courses provide useful training for teachers.