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ESOL versus TEFL

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Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Posts: 13
Location: Baltimore, MD

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2003 8:25 pm    Post subject: ESOL versus TEFL Reply with quote

I have been teaching ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) to middle schoolers the past few months here in the USA in anticipation of going to Latin America in about 7 weeks, where I will be getting a TEFL certificate and teach for a few years. Although I have no experience teaching English as a foreign language abroad, I assume that getting experience teaching it as a second language, in an English speaking country, would give me some insight as to what it is like teaching TEFL abroad

I do have some worries though. I taught Spanish in middle school last year (my first year as a teacher) and hated every minute of it. The majority of the students honestly did not see any point in learning Spanish and to be honest, I didn't either. Having obtained fluency in Spanish myself and knowing just how hard it is and how much time it takes to master another language, I was more than a bit discouraged knowing that, at best, one out of the 135 students I taught would ever take the time to gain a high enough level of proficiency in Spanish to do them any good at all.

I never wanted to teach Spanish and wanted to get involved in ESOL from the get-go. Now that I am teaching ESOL I can honestly say that it is MUCH more enjoyable than teaching Spanish, and I actually feel like I am giving the students something they need to survive.

The attitudes of my ESOL students are much different than my Spanish students; they have voracious appetites for learning English, and why wouldn't they? Not getting made fun of every day by their peers for their foreign accents is incentive enough for them to learn English.

I guess my fear is that once I start teaching TEFL, the students would have an attitude similar to my Spanish students and be very apathetic about learning English, because they cannot use it on a daily basis in their home countries.

Is there anyone who has taught both ESOL and TEFL and could comment on this issue? I would be interested to hear how it really is out there.
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Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 5309
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2003 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you have to worry about your students not being motivated to learn English. However, you didn't say in which context you will be teaching or what ages. That can make a big difference. In many countries, learning and mastering English is a step up in their society and possibly a ticket out of the meager circumstances they are in. I don't know about L. America in particular, but I can guess that it could be. Again it depends on who you are teaching.
In Japan, there is little incentive or benefit to being able to speak English. Motivation is a real issue here.
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Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 2384
Location: Not where I was before

PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2003 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My high school students are overwhelmingly unmotivated, but my adult students from my night class are brilliant... mainly because they are business folkwho must use English on a daily basis. It is relevant to them. For the kids, English is just another exam they must pass... one ith no speaking section... so I often feel quite irrelevant.
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