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new teacher dilemma

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Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 24
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 6:23 pm    Post subject: new teacher dilemma Reply with quote

With all of the varied approaches to teaching ESL how does a NEW teacher find a good balance between them? There are so many choices (reading Teaching by Principles by H. Douglas Brown) and the majority of them seem to work well in a classroom. Is it necessary to implement all of them? Focusing on one approach could be a good start for a new teacher but I am afraid of relying on one approach and becoming lazy in my lessons. I like the idea of cooperative learning and allowing the students to feel comfortable and not feeling intimidated by the teacher. I do not want to make a wrong decision and do too much trial and error to see what works and what does not.
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that you would do well with co-operative learning but there are many ways to implement co-operative learning - pairs, three, fours, sixes, etc. and different ways to use the groups once you have them. There is a whole literature on it and you can find Co-operative Learning on Google. But sometimes it is necessary to use individual projects and techniques especially if the students have an exam at the end of the course. I haven't heard of any country that allows a group to take the exam.

I am afraid that life is experimental and you will always be trying this or that. Nothing works all the time with every class or with every student. It is the frustration of teaching but also the adventure and joy because it is always interesting. The best classes are a combination of the science or principals of teaching and the art of the teacher.

There is no cure for first year teaching. You have to go through it and make mistakes and do somethings right. Don't be great. Just do your best and really enjoy what you can and who you can. Be nice and work hard and ask the students to do that as well.
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Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first year teaching is a challenge and is really based on trial and error. You have to get to know your students and their learning styles so that you can develop appropriate teaching strategies that work. As for cooperative learning, many ELL's benefit from the small group work as they become more comfortable and motivated in this type of setting. However, it is extremely important as a first year teacher to plan out exactly what you will be doing in your groups. It may be helpful to write out a plan and script of what you will say to them. In addition make sure the activities are engaging, interesting and authentic and if a group finishes early, always have a Plan B as to what they do next. I hope this helps in your first year teaching!
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Joined: 09 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 10:48 pm    Post subject: New Teacher Dilemma Reply with quote

I agree with all of the information you have received from previous posters. Trial and error is something that all teachers have to experience regardless of how many years they have been teaching. Every year brings new students, different issues, and influencing factors that will challenge approaches that you have used in the classroom that have proven to be successful for you in the past. It is important to know your student population before you choose to use one sole approach or simply focusing on certain language learning/teaching principles. The background of your students will help you to fine-tune which principles and teaching approaches will work best for you and your current set of students. For example, some cultures expect the language classroom to be teacher-centered. Learnersí autonomous ability to take initiative in the classroom and to continue their journey to success beyond the classroom will depend on their cultural expectations. Willingness to communicate can also depend on the studentsí cultural experiences in their native countries. Trial and error will help you to find what approaches will help you for your group. Although it will always be something we must do as teachers, I think our ability to recognize which approaches we will use with the students gets easier with time and experience.
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Joined: 26 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you'll find such diversity in the needs and abilities of the students, that you will be surprised at how you won't be able to be lazy in your lesson planning. Everybody learns differently, and for ELL's that can be particularly true as their can be contibuting cultural factors. At the heart of every good teacher is the desire to try out a variety of approaches and tailor lesson plans on an individual basis as much as is logistically possible (no time to get in to school politics here). You'll quickly learn that there is no one size fits all approach. At the same time, you will definitely begin to favor a few strategies with which you get the best results. Even they can be changed to accomodate different abilities. As teachers, we too are always learning. The fact that you are concerned about it before even going into the classroom shows that you care.
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Joined: 13 Mar 2011
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't worry about trying to do anything any one way. You can read other books and learn more. I think you have to find out what works for yourself and your given situation.

I think trial and error is part of it whether you're a beginner or not.
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