Teach English in ShAnmuqiao Zhen - Zhangjiajie Shi

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I am a 24 year old, assistant English language teacher living in Kyoto, Japan. Two years ago I graduated from my university with a degree in business finance. Upon graduation, I wanted to work in a foreign country, since I’ve only ever lived in America. I applied to the JET program and was accepted to teach English in Kyoto, Japan. Having no real experience in teaching in a classroom setting, my first few months were very difficult. Every lesson was basically trial and error. A year and a half later, I wanted to get my TEFL certification to possibly teach English in another country. Through the TEFL course on ITTT I learned many useful educational techniques. The single most useful concept I’ve learned in this TEFL course was the ESA lesson structure, teaching format used as a simple basic outline for an English class. ESA is very simple and modifiable easy strategy for new teachers to understand. The ESA lesson is broken up into three parts Engage, Study and Activate. Engage is starting the class off with an engaging activity to help students’ think in English. The aim is to spark interest in English class. One example of an Engage activity is games. One game I made was for a unit in the junior high school English textbook about fair trade products. For the Engage phase, I made a game using a chart of different African countries with their flags. This was for a game in pairs, where one student had to communicate which one country I had picked to their partner. One student would have their head down, while their partner watched me picked a certain country. The student who knew the answer country had to communicate which country it was to their partner using English without saying the country’s name. The Engage phase activities are very easily interchangeable for any class, and this game could be easily modified depending on what the students are learning. During the Engage phase do not correct student’s grammar mistakes too much. If you correct the students too much during the engage portion of the lesson, the students may feel afraid to use English or fear that English is too difficult for them. I think the engage portion of the ESA is the most important because it is crucial to make sure students feel comfortable using and thinking in English for English class. The Second portion of ESA is Study. The goal of the Study portion is to get students familiarized with the target grammar point or target words for the lesson. The Study portion can be taught using power points, the whiteboard in front of the class, and by having students do worksheets to reinforce their understanding of the target point. One example of the Study section I have done in class is a unit in the elementary school English textbook called My Summer Vacation. In this unit they learn about simple past tense, mainly the phrases “I went to”, “I ate”, and “I enjoyed” to explain their summer vacation. First the class teacher and I explained our summer vacations highlighting those key terms of “I went to”, “I ate”, and “I enjoyed”, while having those phrases written on the board. Next we used slideshows to show different countries and explained imaginary summer vacations we could have had in those countries, using those key phrases. Then we had students do worksheets with those past tense phrases to explain their own summer vacations. Repetition is very important for the Study phase. Repetition can help students understand and feel comfortable with the new target grammar. Once the students are comfortable with the new grammar, it’s time to use it in the Activate portion of the ESA. Lastly the Activate portion of ESA is where students are encouraged to use any and all of the language they know. The goal of Activate section is to use the material learned from the Study section, through oral communication. Some examples include role play, group presentations, and even debates. My example for the Activate portion is from the previously mentioned My Summer Vacation unit in elementary school. Where students learn about simple past tense using “I went to”, “I ate”, and “I enjoyed” to explain their summer vacations. For the Activate portion of this lesson, the students performed speeches in front of their class explaining their summer vacation using simple past tense phrases. By having a lot of repetitions done in the Study portion, the students felt confident in their newly learned grammar point. By being able to present their summer vacation in their non-native language, it really boosted the students’ confidence level in English. The Activate portion is important because students get to use the newly learned English phrases and can feel empowered with their newfound knowledge. Students feel empowered and feel accomplished when they are able to use what they have learned in the lesson. The biggest takeaway from this TEFL course for me, was the ESA lesson. I cannot emphasize this enough when I say I wish I knew about the ESA format when I first started teaching. ESA lessons are very logical and consistent, making it a good fundamental base for creating lesson plans for English classes. I use this ESA lesson format when I make lesson plans for my classes, and I try to make the engage portion as fun as possible to get my students excited for English class for the day. Through this TEFL course I can say that I have learned many things as a teacher and am now able to have a more successful class compared to before.