After completing this course, I can proudly affirm that each and everything that the instructors shared and talked about during the classes was very useful. Every single section we covered informed me of the things I need to pay attention to when I qualify to teach English shortly. The training touched on both the theoretical and practical aspects of the teaching process. However, one of the key instructing principles covered was based on the premise that teaching students to learn and speak a language first would make the work of teaching them to read and write even easier. Being in a native country with respect to the English language has helped me appreciate the importance of understanding the language through formal education. Knowledge is always more solid if it is taken from the source. This makes me very eager to work with native speakers of English in the field
I still remember that there was a week we focused on teaching and learning in the classroom and held discussions on the factors which influence our own teaching practice. This session also focused on the approaches and methods of properly conducting foreign language teaching. Through the seminar, we learned how to categorize the factors into such specific categories as local, social and educational factors. I was primarily drawn to the educational factors particularly during the length of the seminar. I was able to understand why individuals had to be categorized into various groups depending on their learning abilities (Harmer 2007). As a group, we concluded that most learners in the classroom are of the mixed ability type.
From the ‘Mixed Ability’ class, I realized that students generally tend to learn from each other, especially when the classroom is made up of individuals of mixed nationalities. Furthermore, from the class discussion, I discovered that some Asian countries preferred to use the grammar-translation method as compared to other translation methods (Richards and Lockhart 1994). In this regard, we came to the conclusion that in such countries teachers are easily tempted to use the mother tongue to teach the textbook or ask comprehension questions. This is because when a local language is used students do not have extreme difficulties in answering the questions (Woodward, 2001). However, it seems like the communicative approach is gradually becoming popular. I believe that it really doesn’t matter what approach or method a teacher decides to use. The critical issue is trying to help students learn in a better way.
During the course of the study, we came across various theories that can be applied in the teaching profession. We learned that these theories are dependent on a number of factors including the personalities, learning styles, and the environment of the learners (Hedge 2000). We, therefore, came to the conclusion that as much as the theories are important in explaining a number of factors that determine the learning ability of the students, they (the theories) have their own weaknesses and therefore cannot fully explain all the challenges that teachers face when in a classroom set up (Mitchell and Myles 2004). This, therefore, means that there is no tailor-made way for learning a language and the trainer has to understand the individual needs of his students in order to come up with a suitable method of instruction.
In the course of the lectures, we covered many theories from second language learning as well as strategies for training individuals in reading, speaking, writing, listening, vocabulary and grammar. Aside from this, the practical elements of training helped me understand the core concepts of teaching. These practical aspects were learned through classroom observation and practical activities such as error correction and feedback, teacher talk, use of L1, and group work. During the workshop, we went through a number of important readings and tried to put into practice the elements we heard picked from tutorials earlier on. Micro-teaching was my favorite part of the course. In micro-teaching, each team was given only 20 minutes to put into practice all the teaching elements that had been taught. The exercise helped me identify my weaknesses as well as learn from the weaknesses of my classmates.
In conclusion, I can confidently say that being a good teacher is a very demanding job. A good teacher should understand students’ needs, identify useful and helpful textbooks, digest the learning and teaching strategies and theories and use them in the class. My contribution to all previous course activities has been the testimony of my dedication to succeed in every activity that I am involved in. the training encourages commitment to class group activities and my participation was well appreciated by my colleagues, witnessed by how well we worked together. The group activities have also helped me nurture and develop my teamwork skills and this will come in handy in whatever department I find myself in days to come. I have learned a valuable lesson regarding the proper application of effort in the entire teaching process and if I get the opportunity to take practice what I have learned, I will genuinely apply myself to making my students the best of the best.
Harmer, J., 2007. How to teach English. Harlow: Pearson Longman.
Hedge,T., 2000. Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mitchell, R. & Myles, F., 2004. Second language learning theories. New Delhi: Arnold
Richards, J.C. & Lockhart, C.L.,1994. Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Woodward, T., 2001. Planning Lessons and Courses. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.