Teach English in SAnshi Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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When I was an English teacher in Vietnam, I saw that outside of elite English centers, the English learning curriculum was deeply flawed. In every home, school and center I visited, students were taught to memorize sentences rather than ideas. If they were learning about how to introduce oneself, they would learn "what's your name" without knowing any of the words that make up the sentence. If they were learning about making friends, they would learn how to ask "what do you like" without the teacher bothering to explain the meaning of"what" or "like" or how that structure is so common in English. As a result, children and adults asked me the same questions everywhere I went and couldn't hold a conversation for more than three rehearsed sentences. This profoundly bothered me so I tried to mitigate this by creating an environment in which my students could create some original output. I would ask them a question and write it on the board, then I would ask for a translation of every word so every student surely understood the question. Once everyone understood, I would ask a strong student to give a response and they would have to give me an organic response, which was extremely rare. normally, they learn multiple specific sentences and respond with other specific sentences. With this method, I tried to get students out of the midst that English is a school subject and into the mindset that English is a language. Drilling the language will only make a student better at drills, but speaking it will make them better at speaking. I tried to make this my legacy in Vietnam but every time my lesson ended I could see my teaching assistant give them drilling for homework and much of my hard work fading. One day after I had left my job and was traveling, I was eating at a local restaurant where a woman raised two children who were around 7 and 9. The woman told them to go get their English materials and the little girl came back with a book and started pretending to work hoping that I would help her. I invited her over and looked at her book and quickly realized that it had every problem I had encountered during teaching the last few months. It occurred to me that if this girl doesn't learn English she may be stuck serving pho for the rest of her life so I decided to do my best to prevent that from happening. I taught the girl pronouns, a few verbs and a few nouns and adjectives within twenty minutes and asked her to make sentences. She was confused at first because she had never learned this way. Eventually however, I was able to convey to her the idea that she can express herself through English in an infinite amount of ways rather than make her simply memorize vocabulary and structure. I went back several days later and reviewed my first lesson (which she had remembered very well) and explained to her the problem with only learning sentences. Through a mix of poor verbal communication, writing down Vietnamese and gestures she understood. It made me very happy to think that by sharing this idea that English is a language not a subject, I may have given this girl a chance to do something other than serve Pho or be a housewife. It's also possible that after years of traditional schooling, my ideas will fade away which is what is so motivating about the idea of teaching English abroad. It is such a valuable skill for so many people and the values I had as a teacher without an ITTT certificate are the same values that I found in the course. That in order for language learning to be effective, the teacher has to be engaging, knowledgeable, able to control the energy of the classroom and friendly. If all that is achieved then people are given an opportunity to do anything. The problem is however that so much of the old school method of drilling English is so common and it hasn't been fully accepted to be an ineffective method. My motivation for being an ITTT teacher (as well as having the freedom to live abroad) would be to be an ambassador for this approach of teaching students in an effective way that makes them enjoy the process of learning English.