Since I was a teenager, I have always wanted to travel the world and experience a variety of different people and cultures. I never really had an opportunity to actually make that dream come true until I heard about the TEFL course here in Puerto Vallarta. I took a leap of faith and decided to fly down here and see what this teaching thing was all about. Needless to say, I could not be happier. I have learned a lot about myself over the last few weeks and what my strengths and weaknesses are as I strive to become the best English teacher I can be.
One of my strengths that I have noticed is that I wasn’t really ever super nervous at the prospect of going in front of a class and teaching. During my first couple of teaching practices there were some nerves, but once I settled in and started getting familiar with the material and the students themselves, all of those nerves went away. I improved on this strength throughout the course by implementing a few techniques that I learned. One of these techniques was to be personable with the students. This meant that I tried to make myself interact with my students in a friendly manner. This method was helpful in many ways. Whenever I did seem a little nervous at first, especially during my first couple of teaching practices, being personable and making smalltalk with my students got rid of those nerves entirely. This method also helped the students relax as well. Instead of sitting and trying to learn in a classroom with a boring and stiff teacher, they would feel more comfortable with a teacher who tried to make the class more entertaining and enjoyable. I would always ask each student how his or her day went. I would also try and have side conversations about interesting topics such as different countries, to make the class more relaxed and enjoyable.
The obvious way I can help myself when it comes to understand the student’s’ native language is to study Spanish myself. This can be done in my spare time, but when it comes to teaching in the classroom I can use other methods. The best way I can prepare myself for these types of questions is to create a thorough lesson plan. Creating great lesson plans was a big emphasis of the TEFL course this year, for a number of reason. In this particular case, creating a good lesson plan can help when a student asks me a question in Spanish. When creating my lesson plans, I plan on reviewing the content I will be teaching first. After reading the material, I will write down certain words and phrases from the book that my students may not understand. Then I will write the Spanish counterparts of those phrases so I have and idea of what content my students may be having trouble with. This situation shows just how important developing a good lesson plan is and that you cannot just come to class and try to teach off the top of your head.
All of these methods and many more have helped me prepare for my teaching career on the path ahead. I already have my first job lined up for me here in Puerto Vallarta, or as some would call it “Paradise”. I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given and I know that I still have much to improve as far as my teaching techniques go. I hope to one take make it across the entire world by teaching English and make the promise of “Teach, Travel, and Adventure” come true.