Teaching in a foreign country has always intrigued me. For years I have looked for overseas jobs online only to find out that a TEFL certificate was required. I had no idea what was involved in the TEFL program, but I knew obtaining the certificate was the key for unlocking potential job opportunities. Since I had no plans or commitments for the summer I decided to treat myself to an adventure. The only expectation I had was that I would collect another certificate to add to my resume.
As a veteran teacher, I was confident that I knew it all. Being a native English speaker, I thought I had an excellent command of the English language. I assumed the class would review basic teaching strategies and philosophies as related to different cultures. I did not anticipate that I would be learning much. The first day of class was an eye-opener for me! I realized I did not understand the basic mechanics of my native language (L1). While I might be fluent with use and meaning, I was totally ignorant when it came to the form. I had learned some of the grammar points in high school, but I did not remember them. I found out that I had no idea how to form a sentence, much less how to explain it to somebody else. Since sentence structure is the crux of the program I quickly became conscious of the fact that I had a lot to learn. As Aristotle said, “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.”
I believe my teaching style is a unique combination of many methods acquired over years of being an educator. I have confidence that using realia, pictures and other tangible objects will impact a class’ understanding and motivation. I am from the generation who prefers to teach by means of Thematic Units and Whole Language Theory. In the TEFL world this is referred to as Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). According to Spence Rogers creator of PEAK Learning Systems (Performance Excellence for All Kids),”Our kids are worth whatever it takes”. As a teacher, I fully endorse the Spence Rogers method; each day focusing on how and what is the best way for my students to learn and gain authentic comprehension.
Overall, I feel that I am a strong teacher with good methodology. I am able to build a good rapport with students, I differentiate learning so that all students feel successful and I am able to come up with creative lessons that incorporate real life situations. I repeat and rephrase often, I am generally patient in the classroom, and by taking advantage of teachable moments. Most of my students enjoy class and know that I care about their educational growth. Where I fall short in TEFL is that I need to learn the grammar points by heart. I should be able to explain any grammatical questions that arise without hesitation. This is essential to being a great teacher. In order to accomplish this, I must study more, practice what I have learned and gain teaching experience at a local Language Institute.
Teaching in remote areas can be challenging; resources can be limited, or non-existent. I do not think this will be a factor that affects me greatly. I am a very resourceful person, drawing from the internet, textbooks, magazines and a plethora of other sources. I have colorful markers and use chart paper to instill main points of a lesson: form and meaning. Likewise, I am fortunate in that I have my own equipment such as a computer and a projector. Therefore, assuming I have electricity, I will able to conduct lessons in power point. Since I have been teaching for many years, I have an abundance of supplies at my disposal
I am impressed with the administrators of the TEFL course. My trainer has been an incredible instructor. Lessons on grammar points, methodologies, and possible problems encountered have been invaluable. My trainer went above and beyond by explaining cultural differences in the educational setting and sharing personal stories. His encouraging us to be entrepreneurial and think out of the box was phenomenal. He shared other potential employment opportunities that I would have never thought of or dreamed possible. Our Job Placement Coordinator was wonderful too. The web pages he created were done with extreme professionalism, I will be proud to share them.
While I plan to stay in the states for the time being, I hope to get a part time job in a local language center. I hope to practice what I have learned and become a fantastic EFL instructor. I believe that some of knowledge I acquired this summer transfer to my Algebra classroom. In conclusion, studying in Puerto Vallarta has been the experience of a lifetime! The educational opportunity I was given this summer has far exceeded my expectations. Thank you to all involved with the process.