Since I received my initial TESL training in 1995, my understanding of what it means to teach English has evolved and deepened. Initially trained in a communicative language learning approach, I find myself moving towards a more holistic approach that incorporates both the social and structural part of language.
What is my view on language and the social context of language?
Language is our way of communicating with one another. This has both a biological aspect as well as a societal dimension to it. We all have a need to communicate. It is collective and is in a constant state of flux, evolving and changing to meet the needs of those that are using it. It is the foundation of all societies and takes the role of providing division between one section of humanity and another. This is done through the choices made by the individual, whether intentional or not. This ability to code-switch within the various aspects of the language is what is used to form part of our identity and create balance between the social context and predetermined social norms.
What is my view of learning and learners?
The centre of every classroom is the learner and should be the driving force behind setting the goals and objectives for the course. I believe in a classroom built on mutual respect and understanding between the teacher and the students. In my classroom, there are only two overarching rules, have fun and respect one another. This also means that I am to respect the various learning styles and personality types. Classrooms need to be a safe place to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. The responsibility for correcting those mistakes is not only for the teacher to address, but the initial work is done through self and peer-assessment. Work is done collaboratively as well as individually and students are encouraged to share their knowledge with other students in order to promote learning amongst their peers.
What is my view on teaching?
My role as teacher is to guide students in their learning. I need to find ways in which to motivate each student and help them in taking responsibility for their own learning. My role is also to help the students think critically about what they are learning and to provide the means in which to express their opinions. I believe the best material to be used in the classroom is based on or uses authentic material that is chosen to meet the needs of that particular group or student. This material is chosen to be slightly more difficult than what the level the student is at in order to help coax the student forward in their learning. Form focused instruction is used in moderation in order to facilitate learning, but is learned and practiced in context in order to help the student understand the usage.
Learning is not only confined to the classroom, but is connected to what is happening outside of school. Goals and objectives are clearly defined and assessment is ongoing through formative means. This is done to provide students with mile markers on their learning journey and gives them a sense of fulfillment. Learning is based on moving the student along from knowledge to creation and giving them tools to continue this learning well after their time in the classroom.
This goal of lifelong learning is not just for the students, but for myself as well. I am responsible to continue my learning process including being taught by my students. I have grown so much as a teacher, but as I move forward, I begin to see how much more there is too learn as well.