Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

"Speakyourmind"

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Italy
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
jurgen



Joined: 31 Jan 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:15 am    Post subject: "Speakyourmind" Reply with quote

I have been working in Almaty, Kazakstan as I couldn't find a job in Italy last summer. This school belongs to the International House network, but certainly is not up to standard, in comparison with the European IH schools I have worked in in Europe… We don't have any Teacher Training, to start with and I, in my second year, am the most experiences teacher with a CELTA – there are other experienced (state school) teachers here, some speak frightfully bad English…

For those reasons I have been applying for jobs in Italy again, so far without luck. 2 days ago though I had a job interview and just a little while ago I've been offered that job – in Verona, great city (good size), great location – only problem is, that it is with a "Speakyourmind" school. Their methodology is rather strange, short, 50min lessons, teaching ONLY their own book, hardly any reading/writing. In terms if teaching I am VERY happy here, but don't feel I learn, develop much. And the language here is a problem – I have no intentions to learn Russian, while I really want to improve my Italian…

SO, my question, does anyone know anything about this school? Any ideas, advice would be greatly appreciated- please email me, yolajurg@gmail.com

Thanks very much,

Jurgen
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
SueH



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 1022
Location: Northern Italy

PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No idea I'm afraid Jurgen, although their web-site looks genuine to me.

I would say that in some respects their emphasis on speaking fits in well with the seeming lack of this that Italians get in their state schools where much of the teaching is in Italian, where they might be learning modals (for example) but are unable/unwilling to speak

Verona would be a good place to be though, and an entree into Italy.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jetgirly



Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Posts: 741

PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of Italians really like that style of teaching, as it contrasts their K-12 and post-secondary background in which they primarily did written grammar exercises. Your school will probably have plenty of work for you. BUT... I strongly disagree with the principle that you can approach each different element of language learning (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in isolation, as schools like Speakyourmind do. As an ESL teacher I have seen that it is ineffective. As a BEd student preparing to teach in the K-12 system I have read the research. The Caine Learning institute says:

- Capacity #7: All students can learn more effectively when their attention is deepened and multiple layers of the context are used to support learning.

- Capacity #9: All students can learn more effectively when taught through experiences that engage multiple ways to remember.

- Capacity #12: All students can learn more effectively when their unique, individual talents, abilities, and capacities are engaged.

The methodology which you are REQUIRED to use at schools like Speakyourmind does not acknowledge these principles or Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences. It ignores the fact that some students WILL learn to speak by writing first, reading what they've written, and then speaking.

However, most students don't know anything about the science of learning and they think that these classes will work for them. And for some students, this is a great system. The problem is that it only caters to one learning style and essentially denies the very existence of other styles. If you're willing to put that aside then take the job. You have to be prepared to tell students how great the school's methodology is, but it might be worth it just to live in Verona. You may even find out that the admin is pretty flexible and will let you bring additional activities into the classroom to accommodate student differences.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ilaria



Joined: 26 Jan 2007
Posts: 88
Location: Sicily

PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jurgen, sorry to hear the job hunt has been difficult for you. You could just be applying at the wrong times of year. There are jobs in Italy now being advertised on tefl.com and other places, but lots of them are short-term (until May/June). Schools in Italy, even the private language schools, prefer to follow the academic year, starting contracts in September/October and finishing in June.

The whole country shuts down in August for the summer holiday, so schools just won't respond to job applications then.

The most organised schools start advertising in late May/early June for positions starting in the autumn. There's also a big late flurry of panic advertising in September, with schools wanting immediate starts.

Many schools want: a native speaker of English; EU citizenship; a TEFL certificate; a degree (but this is often not a requirement); at least a year's teaching experience; the willingness/ability to teach varied class types, from young learners to business English; and a driving license is often essential because off-site classes are common.

If you tick all these boxes (or nearly all), hang on in there with the job search and don't accept a job you're not sure about just because you doubt you'll be offered another one. You will!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
asromacalcio



Joined: 21 Apr 2006
Posts: 54

PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in Verona for a year. I worked for the British School. If you can get in here you're doing OK, it's a fantastic school all round. There is also the Cambridge School whose email address you can get from the web quite easily. They don't quite have the reputation the British does but are certainly established and successful. You can also do the DELTA there if this interests you.

I'd be inclined to avoid SYM not because I know anything about it but because it sounds too regimented, a bit like Inlingua. There are lots of good schools in Italy you can get in at if you play it right, schools which will let you teach as you see fit, drop me a PM for some advice.

Thanks also for the info about IH Almaty, I would have considered working there myself, probably won't now.

asromacalcio
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
iain



Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 15
Location: northern italy

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a special interest in this topic and am in a position to give a pretty informed contribution. I founded the school in question in Verona almost 20 years ago, and have spent the last dozen years developing and writing what is now SpeakYourMind. I remember speaking to Jurgen very well and probably it would not have turned out to be a match made in heaven: we do offer and provide a complete course to our students - that's why they chooose us rather than any of our competitors (they get the chance to try before they enrol). The lessons are designed to be student-friendly and teacher-friendly, working within the framework of a designed classroom procedure and following prepared teaching material. Jurgen mentioned that he likes the freedom that he currently has in the classroom - fine. We don't want our techers to be chained but at the same time we need to be in a postion to assure certain standards to our customers: from classroom to classroom and from year to year.
The method does not in fact separate language skills and we very much aim to develop 'depth' in lessons - anyone curious enough to watch a lesson would be struck by how 'fertile' lessons can be.
Of course, in the end it is 'a method' (even though in continual state of evolution) and has all the pros and cons attached. Jurgen would find it too restricting just as other teachers find it a support and an effective format for productive and enjoyable teaching.

I can't be unbiased but I do try to be objective and open to anything,

Iain
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
asromacalcio



Joined: 21 Apr 2006
Posts: 54

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iain

This is an excellent response. I hope my post didn't seem critical, but you will no doubt be aware of the attitude of many teachers to set methodology... perhaps you have interviewed many of us.

I have no problem with the more direct teaching methods but I don't understand why people (students or teachers) like them. I once worked for a school the DOS of which had been an Inlingua teacher for 25 years. Her new school was stocked mainly with Inlingua material which she had been using prior to my appointment, and which I was only too happy to ignore. I was a teacher with 5 months' experience and after two lessons with me all the students went to the DOS and requested strongly that all their lessons be with me and not her.

I cannot be sure how closely your methods resemble those of Inlingua. I should avoid tarring you with the same brush and I do know from having seen your school (front door) that you are a very professional and successful operation.

You did mention standards... standards at the British School revolve around a professional approach to students, responding to their individual needs and delivering learning tailored to them. Where we identify that a student or group requires a more hands-on direct approach we give it. Maybe sometimes our lessons can seem like those you might find in your school (I don't know this). Where students need to speak more we talk more, write more, we write more. And so on. I've had classes where I've shelved the entire plan because my student comes with problems expressing what happened that day... decision time, we could really benefit from a video today, or free conversation, a vocab building session etc.

My doubts about methodology schools are that many of them don't give the teacher this freedom to change when things need changing. However successful your approach for some, you will no doubt accept it is not right for everybody. Under these circumstances, do you accept the loss of a student to the school, or does your teacher have at their discretion the chance to do things differently?

One final thing, teachers wishing to progress in the profession tend to target the more valued DELTA type qualifications. Do you value these in your candidates, or is it more important that they do things your way?

It is in anticipation of your answer that I reiterate my reluctance to work for any school which does not value my creativity and freedom to use it, however good their results otherwise.

Stay well in Verona, you're in a good place, and please give my best wishes to Chievo for next season, but not against Roma.

asromacalcio
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
iain



Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 15
Location: northern italy

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, thanks for your reply. I quite agree with you about the value of the teacher - a consciencious, responsive and informed teacher - and that a good school should be able to rely on these qualities. Looking at your posts you clearly fall into this category and in no way am I suggesting that a method is 'greater' than this type of professional.
I have experience of schools that can guarantee standards through its selection of teachers and the facilities and support that it can put at their disposal. I have a much wider experience of shools that don't. In fact I know someone who worked at the school you mention (maybe you still work there) who was a very consciencious teacher who put a huge number of hours into lesson preparation - the trouble was he was more often than not on a different wavelength from the people he taught, as the school found out at the end of the year. In this case his creativity and intuition were apparently misdirected and the students / customers in his care were disappointed in terms of their expectations of how learning took place, and how much English they got and the end of the process.
This sort of thing happens in a respecable, well-run school and students will get lost as a result. Many badly-run, profit obsessed schools tie students and teachers into deals to prevent it.
As a business (that's what we all are) you aim to keep as many students as possible and you do that by being professional and fair. I don't expect to keep all students at all costs - there is no such thing as 'THE best way' to learn English.We set out to offer what we know is a very good way to learn English for very many people. We encourage our teachers to be accommodating in teaching style and do not 'instruct' teachers to be 'methodical' full stop. Some students won't find affinity with our course - the same applies to some prospective teachers. I can live with that. In the end I think that reasonable people can agree to differ but agree to cohabitate - English teaching is a wide enough area to accommodate plenty of approaches. Thank God, say the students.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
jjames



Joined: 20 Nov 2007
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:05 pm    Post subject: just to add my two cents Reply with quote

I came across Jurgen's question recently and would like to share my own experience with SpeakYourMind. I began my teaching career as a good few do - without the proper training and/or experience normally called for. I came to Italy to learn the language and needed work. I was lucky in that two schools hired me, probably against their better judgement, without any experience or qualifications. I'm fully aware that had there been more qualified applicants I most likely wouldn’t have got the jobs.

The first month was as good an example as any to know which school I would come to respect. The school using SpeakYourMind immediately put me in their training programme. I was not thrown un-prepared into lessons or left to manage on my own. Knowing they use a particular method (and that their students come to them specifically for that reason), they gave me the needed training. I didn’t learn everything in a week of course but it was a good starting point, and working within certain guidelines helped me as a new teacher as did the fact that the students were clearly enjoying the course. As a teacher, I found the method to be very stimulating, as did my CELTA-qualified colleagues.

The other school had more of a ‘get on with it’ attitude. I cringe now to think of the lessons I taught during the first couple of months there. At the time I knew I was doing my best but looking back I know that I should never have been in those classrooms. Of course any school would ideally only hire very qualified and experienced teachers – but the reality seems to be that you do what you must in a pinch. I imagine this is all too true for schools which are not located in large urban areas with a bountiful market of teachers.

The argument here is not if SpeakYourMind is the best thing out there of if experienced teachers are expendable (I certainly hope no one is silly enough to suggest I think this). I simply think that this school with the SpeakYourMind method seems to be more responsible in ensuring that their teachers (no matter what background they have) are prepared and that their students receive a consistently high standard of service.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jetgirly



Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Posts: 741

PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could you describe the method? What happens in the classroom during a typical lesson? How are each of the skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) addressed? What resources are students and teachers given? Are there "rules" about what can and can't happen in the classroom?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
jjames



Joined: 20 Nov 2007
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here goes. First of all, I think it makes sense to see SpeakYourMind for what it sets out to be – a practical, General English teaching programme for adults studying in their own countries and with probably no more than two or three lessons a week. Not ideal circumstances but a fact of life for very many.

The programme is designed on a word-driven syllabus, with grammar integrated stage by stage along the way. The emphasis is on speaking as virtually everyone sees that as their priority and it’s the one thing students can’t do outside lessons. Most of each lesson involves a dialogue that puts ‘words’ in contexts. The teacher steers this dialogue, following the course material, and usually in a question-answer format, mainly teacher-student but also S-S or S-T. Unlike methods I’ve read about where this format is a mechanical drilling procedure, the aim is to generate personal engagement, something that actually happens pretty naturally. You could call it language-focussed interaction.
Each lesson adds on new language but learners aren’t expected to learn it completely there and then just because they’ve ‘done it’ and so review and re-cycling have a major place.

Listening, speaking, confidence-building, vocabulary and grammar are not parcelled up into separate areas of the lesson: the teacher can shift the emphasis to suit the learners’ priorities or preference. Alongside the guided dialogue lessons involve an activity which can range from grammar-based or pronunciation exercises to reading and writing, role-play, and discussion (not at elementary level).

What appeals a lot is that the method treats people as thinking, responsible adults who are in the classroom because they have common aims so things work by consensus and co-operation rather than ‘rules’. The course does have a very defined framework and there are clear guidelines for classroom procedures: let’s face it, it is a method, yet it doesn’t get in the way so lessons are actually very personal.

For any school or teacher the bottom line is, 1) Does what I’m doing work? 2) Do my students like it? In my experience with SyM I feel that far more often than not you could answer both those questions with ‘yes’.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
vinpinman



Joined: 15 Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Turkey

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:16 pm    Post subject: Re: "Speakyourmind" Reply with quote

jurgen wrote:
I have been working in Almaty, Kazakstan as I couldn't find a job in Italy last summer.


How was Almaty, by the way?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mark a Teacher



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 13
Location: Chicago Ill USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:03 pm    Post subject: Iain? Reply with quote

Im wondering if this is the same Iain who worked with the Dawson Group in Bologna?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
iain



Joined: 09 May 2007
Posts: 15
Location: northern italy

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, this a different Iain but there seem to be a lot of us about. There are three of us working at our school at the moment, although two spelt i-a-n.
By the way, the teacher who initiated this thread applied for a job with us again this summer.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Italy All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC