Teach English in Tandu Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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I started my teaching career with the Ministry of Education (Singapore), teaching Primary school children. I was in the teaching career for sixteen years before I answered a higher calling - to work full-time in church, but my role in church still revolves around teaching - teaching the Bible to youths and adults. Throughout the sixteen years of teaching in a school, I have learnt that pedagogy and subject knowledge are non-negotiables. Class management is the other aspect that is necessary for a teacher to have a good grasp in. The reason being every class that I go to, is made up of students with varied learning abilities and behaviour. In the earlier years of my teaching, Singapore schools implemented HA-MA-LA (High ability-Middle ability-Low ability) system in every class. I had to ensure each of these groups of students optimize their learning by varying the learning activities that will meet the three levels of learning abilities. Eventually MOE introduced ability-driven class allocation. I had the best three years of my teaching career, where I got to teach the students with the lowest learning ability. While these students were the least motivated, yet given a positive and conducive learning environment, I soon discovered they actually wanted to learn. They just needed more handles to grasp concepts, to internalize their learning. And for me, as the teacher, I had to have lots of patience towards them, most importantly, to believe in them. I had to learn to teach creatively and instill in them the interest to learn. In addition to learning challenges, these students also demonstrated behaviour challenges. I learnt to love them and empower them, to bring up their self-esteem. The greatest joy I had was to see all except one student passing their PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) and being promoted to secondary school. It was also a great accomplishment to see them leaving Primary school having a love for reading. Besides teaching in a primary school in Singapore, I had an opportunity to do a three-week teaching stint, teaching English, in a Thai secondary school on Northern Thailand. It was a valuable cross-cultural teaching experience - having to understand the culture of the country and the school. Being the only foreigner in that school, I had to step out of my comfort zone to interact with the local teachers. Teaching these Thai students helped me to be a learner too. Learning what interests the students, and having to adapt my lessons to pitch to their learning ability and their acquisition level of English. I realized I could not bring into the classroom learning, my own cultural practices and way of teaching and my own assumptions of their learning style based on my own Singaporean understanding. I had to understand how a Thai student would think, how a Thai student would learn. Case in point, it was a challenge to encourage the students to consciously speak in English. So I had to think of ways to motivate them to speak English during their English lesson time. The students' enthusiasm to learn helped to overcome the initial fears and hesitations I had about my effectiveness in the classroom. I also had the opportunity to teach English to a group of adult China nationals who were working in Singapore. Teaching adult learners somewhat was less stressful as compared to teaching children and youths. These adults came with the motivation to learn. And their proactiveness made the teaching an enjoyable one. Teaching this group of adult learners required me to involve the learners in crafting out the learning objectives and getting them to articulate their needs so that the lessons had to be need-based and practical for these learners. Now, with my church, I am hoping to launch a class to teach English to migrant workers who have come to work in Singapore.