Friday, July 22, 2011

Ethics in Teaching

Although we have addressed this issue before, it might be a good idea to do it again in light of recent scandals involving education in the US and other countries, as well as the journalist scandal regarding ethics in the UK.

If anything, education is an industry where the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and being law abding should show the most strength. These standards should be strongly upheld by teachers, principals, and superintendents. We have children's lives in our hands. We are with them on a daily basis. they both depend on and look up to us, not only for learning, but for examples of how to lead their lives. What has happend to our standards? We have to remember that student's, especially young learners, not only acquire academic knowledge from teachers but life skills and behavior norms as well.

TEFL is not a teaching world apart, as soon as you step into that classroom you transform yourself into a role model to which the students will mimic every move, word, promnunciation, and body language.

When teaching in a foreign country, some people think that if they are overseas, then they do not have to follow any standards of ethics, thus they are "above the law" and any real standards of ethical behavior. Wrong!!! There have been people arrested and extradited to their home countries for unethical- and sometimes criminal- conduct. There have been teachers kicked out of countries they were working in for unethical behavior. Do not think that you will be the exception to the rule. You are not. You may make friends with people who do unethical things. That is your choice, but this choice can land you in a foreign jail, ousted from a country (which goes on your passport), and has potential for you to possibly endure great embarrassment to you and to whomever hired you. This definitely does not look good on your resume. Yes, we have internet now folks. This can add and will follow you for quite some time. Use common sense.

Remember all those rules that your parents told you about right and wrong. Remember them, use them, and act like a professional English teacher. Teaching is not just about pouring facts into empty minds but rather stimulating interest within those minds to spark the fires of true knowledge.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Young Learners: The Teachers' Challenge

Some of our ITTO graduates chose to teach young learners. If they have never taught younger students before, they find out rather rapidly that the techniques used in class for class management are totally different than when teaching adults. Depending on the age and size of the group, it can be a real challenge.

Here are some tips for handling a young learners' class. First of all, establish the rules for the class. Make sure that students understand the rules. Then, as the teacher, make sure the rules are enforced. Most importantly, be fair with the rules. Everyone should be treated the same. Make sure the students understand the boundaries.

Secondly, children like routines. They like established patters of activity. What seems like rebundant repetition for adults is simply familiar procedure for a child. Remember, when you first started kindergarten, you did not understand the concept of getting in line to do something. Once you did it everyday, such as get in line to go to lunch, then it became familiar and comfortable. The same is true for teaching English to young learners.

Third, and very important, make sure the students understand their responsibilities; for example, listening when another student speaks or helping give out materials. This is teaching the student responsibility, awareness, and actually learning to listen in English. Be explicit and clear in what you expect from the students as you establish the routines for class.

While you are doing all this, there are other aspects to remember. Treat the students as individuals. They need to know that you care, not just be a group of kids you need to control for an hour or so.

Make then feel valuable. Listen. Respond. Put some of their work on the walls to enhance their self-esteem. It works miracles.

Use praise. Try to catch them being good and say so. At the same time, keep your expectations high. Don't let them slack off with various excuses.

Use co-operative activities. These create win-win situations where the students come away feeling good about themselves. Always be fair.

Other points to keep in mind are social factors, emotional and cognitive development, and, most importantly, your attitude toward the children. Children have a sixth sense when it comes to relating to authority figures. They will know if you really care and act accordingly. Moreover, when they are studying English, try to link the vocabulary and grammar point they learn in class to reality, such as their family, home, or school. This helps the students internalize what they learn in class and apply it to their world.

Realizing these tips on handling young learners and implementing them in the classroom should make both the students' lives and yours much more pleasurable. Plus, you can concentrate on teaching, not just trying to discipline class.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Business English: What does business want?

Before you take a business English course, ask yourlsef this: What does business want? In other words, what kind of English terms, vocabulary, and expressions should you learn and concentrate on in order to teach business English? Good question. Different courses concentrate on different aspects of business. On the more basic level, for example, you will learn how to teach holding a formal business meeting, answer the phone, make reservations for flights, rooms, conference rooms, etc. You will also probably learn to write a basic business letter or memo. These are things that are used in business on every level, from Mom and Pop businesses to corporations. So, businesses want your students to be able to do this in fluent English. It is your job to make this happen.

Suppose, however, your classes are going to be on more advanced levels. What does business want? Well, on advanced levels the English terms will be more limited to certain specific aspects of business. Normally, this will be trade, fiancial terms, or English for negociations. With today's global economy, these types of business are vitally important. Perhaps even more important is giving a lucid, viable, convincing business presentation. For this, not only is business English involved, but so is public speaking. You may have PowerPoint, Internet sites, and who knows what else at your fingertips, but if you do not do well in the presentation, all is lost.

Thus, there are a multitude of things you need to cover as a business English teacher. Each type of business will want something different. Your students can be advanced, lower level, or mixed. Moreover, you need to research terms and usages for whatever type of business you are teaching: Banking, for example, would be totally different than new housing. And besides all this, you need to instill business ethics into the list so that your students know how to handle fiduciary responsibility and be trustworthy.

So what is the bottom line? What does business want? It wants fluency in English in a specific area to allow business communication on a common level so that business can be successfully conducted, hopefully in a win-win way that both parties can be happy with. As a business English teacher, you have your work cut out for you. If you have not had a how-to-teach-business-English course, I suggest you take one. If you are very good int this field, the world is yours. Many people will want your services, and they will pay well for them.