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Best type of teaching for newbie?
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twelveways



Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 4:27 pm    Post subject: Best type of teaching for newbie? Reply with quote

Hi,
I will be undertaking a 4 week intensive TEFL course in May in Beijing. I have no previous teaching experience although I have done job site training, Im not sure how relevant that is.

I want to know which age/experience group would be the best for an inexperienced teacher to start off with. I like the idea of teaching children as I am a bit of a big kid at heart and think it will be more rewarding but would you say this is harder than teaching adolescents or adults? Im figuring young kids would respect my authority more than older ones but then they would have less experience of English, which might be a bigger hurdle.

all advice/discussion appreciated

Smile
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mcsam



Joined: 06 Dec 2005
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

There really is no answer to your question, it entirely depends on you.
The course you are going to do will concentrate on teaching adults (I imagine, as most of them do) but if you are going to teach in China in a language mill you will be expected to teach all ages, from kindergarten to adults. Teaching children is more rewarding IMHO and academically less challenging but don't be fooled into thinking it's easy. It's not, it's a lot more physically demanding and you have a lot more preparation because you, in a lot of cases, can't give young children one activity that you think will last a long time, if you do they will get bored and there will be trouble.
The only way to find out your preference is to try it.
Good luck
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twelveways



Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply.

Im under no preconceptions that it will be easy, whoever I teach. I guess I'll find out more about myself and what I want when I am actually on the course.

Smile
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with teaching kids is that even when the school hasn't provided you with ANY (usually crap) activity materials, they'll still often have a very strong opinion about how you should be teaching, and may not be content to leave you to get on with planning as best you can in whatever free time you get - no, you can bet that you'll be hauled in for regular debriefing if not outright questioning, even though the advice that you'll likely be offered will tend to treat the kiddies almost as little adults keen to master endless songs, often linguistically pointless games and, horror of horrors, "English conversation" (taken to mean fixed and/or stilted exchanges such as greetings, farewells, asking for or buying food etc, all repeated, chanted, droned etc ad pukeum). It's rare that there will be any attention paid to anything that will at all challenge this lockstep, linear problem-free breeze, let alone be GENUINELY STIMULATING AND FUN for children (and let's not forget the teacher!), and be relating to them at their level at least some of the time (without verging into becoming too patronizing BS)...dare I say it, be ambitious!

So it's best to sit down and create at least the beginning stages of a syllabus yourself, endeavour to help yourself (because very few are going to help you much, and certainly not help you teach the way you will be most comfortable).

Just to give you an example, I decided whilst recently teaching in Japanese elementary schools (say grades 3 or 4 upwards) to concentrate at first on the noun system of English, specifically the notion of countability (which all incorporates article/determiner usage, pluralization etc). (Of course that is not how I put it to the kids, but I wanted to get them used to things that seem to be either taken for granted, glossed over, deliberately ignored or suppressed, and in sum missed in most instruction). The first lesson had to be the expected self-introduction sort of thing (I'm + complements), but from the second lesson onwards I could try more interesting stuff:

I started off with a poster-sized print similar to the following picture puzzle:
http://www.naute.com/illusions/frog.php

I'd establish that the kids could see the frog (kaeru ne!), then rotate the pic through 90 degrees anticlockwise. It took a little longer to establish that a horse (uma ne!) was now visible "instead".

Anyway, rather than concentrate on the English for kaeru and uma ("frog", "horse"), I would instead swiftly move on and draw or show a picture of a chicken, and a plate of chicken, and model the respective noun phrases slowly ('a chicken' versus 'chicken') while pointing to the respective pictures and showing the differences in meaning between them (it helps if you can demonstrate a chicken, before it gets blown into uncountable pieces and eaten). (I didn't stress the indefinite article - no 'ei' - but made sure they could hear the schwa sound nontheless). Same thing with other animals that you might eat (or not!), or coffee, tea etc (higher grades might appreciate the notion of an ellipted partative/measure: a (cup of) coffee).

From there I'd introduce a wider range of animals or creatures via flashcards, and build up to saying 'Oh, a(n) _____ !' for each. I'd then finish this second class with a Spot the Difference picture activity (pics would have a few items with 2 or more e.g. no ghost versus a ghost, a cat versus two cats, to be picked up again in lesson four), give students five minutes in pairs to compare pictures, then elicit and board (and if necessary in the process surreptitiously correct) answers for only the differences/noun phrases that denoted actual existence (or the singular versus those plurals just mentioned) at the "one" snapshot in time (e.g. ?No ghost! (in/re. pic A) > (Oh!) A ghost! (in/re. pic B)) until the total number of differences had all been accounted for, before finally drilling all the phrases in the remaining few minutes.

Lesson three: Review of animal vocab, and A's phrase (Oh, a _____ !), before focussing on B's response: It's _____ ! (gap there is filled with an appropriate adjective - invited kids to brainstorm and supply suggestions themselves, translated if necessary). Did at least two rounds of karuta (first to touch relevant animal picture card wins it), the first using all the A phrases, the second all the B (second requires a bit more thought eh!) before getting each group to put their cards into a shuffled stack face-down, from which person 1 would turn over the top card and say the appropriate A phrase, and person 2 respond with the appropriate B phrase; then person 2 would become A and person 3 B in a clockwise-moving "conversation pairing" (an additional rule might be that B can take the card if they can respond, otherwise the next person along gets a chance to claim it and so on; the next new turn of play/card would however still commence with the B person who first passed then becoming the new A and turning over a new topmost card). Play continued until the entire stack had been played through at least once.

Lesson four: Plurals. Students know e.g. 'a snake', but what about 2 _____ ? (=2 snakes). Got them to listen, then repeat back to me what they thought they'd heard. A mnemonic was 1/an upright, standing-to-attention snake versus two snakes (modelled by my writhing arms lifting out from my body like snakes hissing that -s sound). Then handed out a pic with one or more of each type of animal "hidden" in the pic. Students had to count up and write either a/an before the relevant English-romaji word (i.e. furigana was supplied in small superscript over the English) in the vocab side box, or the number 2/3/4 before the words and an s after them when appropriate. Made checking of answers into a game (if a person from whichever group is first to raise a hand guesses correctly, they get a point; if they guess incorrectly, they get a minus point }Smile. I was looking for answers along the lines of 'Oh, a(n)/2/3/4 _____(s)!', to recycle a phrase from the previous lesson.

Lesson five: Food (incl. usu. uncountable). Introduced flashcards for bananas (banana? Squashed ~?!), apples, carrots, steak/meat, fish, and nattou, and asked if students liked each of the foods. Then I produced animal/creature flashcards (a larger monkey in foreground, with two smaller ones behind, one to each side, and the same for: alien(s), rabbit(s), horse(s), seal(s) and tiger(s)) and asked students to match each of the "groups" of animals to the food that they probably liked best from what was on offer. All that having been completed, I would then model the target phrase ('Do you like _____ ?') and answer for each animal e.g. 'Do you like bananas?' (said to the monkey(s)) - answer is obviously 'Yes!'. 'Do you like carrots?' (said to the alien(s)) - answer is obviously 'No'. 'Hmm, well, do you like nattou?' (again to the alien(s)) - 'Yes!'. [Note that the 'you' here refers to both second person singular - the initially lone student trying to find mates (see below) - and to second person plural - animals of that species (which recycles the idea of plurality from lesson four but drops an actual stated number, allowing a teacher to match animals and food patter-wise thus: 'So, (the) monkeys like bananas, (the) seals like... etc'. Or the teacher could equally do this matching silently), and the potentially larger and plural group of animals meeting and asking questions of other groups or individuals]. I then prepared to hand out small "secret animal ID cards"; through gestures and use of the phrases (perhaps with the assistance of a Japanese teacher), I'd show that we were going to play a game in which each students' goal was to find "mates" (animals with the same identity) by means of asking the same question of each person they approached (and people answering 'Yes!' would be invited to join the ever-growing "pack"); order for asking as students paired up would be established through rock-paper-scissors (winner asks first; loser asking will not be necessary if they've answered 'Yes!'). I then drilled all the food questions, before handing out the cards and enjoying the sight of boys hoping to get an alien card, then groups of rabbits hopping along in search of more rabbit friends etc. You could insist that each member in each ever-growing "pack" should take turns being the pack leader and asking the mate-finding question, or leave the leadership issue moot, let the natural leaders take charge so that the activity, the running around in general doesn't at all flag. Play could be repeated with collection and redistribution of the cards, but at some point, I'd want to end and ask how many of each animal there were - it's interesting to get students thinking of how to pronounce the plural of 'horse'. In all, a fun lesson which capitalizes on our desire to find and even rejoice in finding similarity (if only the students could exclaim 'You like nattou!/You're an alien! So do/am I; Me too!', but that sort of thing could be covered in due course, especially in the context of questionnaires about likes and dislikes, which apart from supplying more nouns of several types - count, uncount/mass, proper - would also give the students much more practise in saying rather than just hearing a wider range of questions (this "Find your animal mates" activity as mentioned above only has each student asking one question)); certainly, this beats "simply" asking 'Are you a(n) _____?' ['Are you...?' questions usually involve adjectives or present participles rather than nouns, unless one is really into "20 Question"-style total guessing games, not that asking 'Do you like bananas?' isn't also a bit of a silly thing to ask, but sometimes ultra-realistic contextualization and authentic discourse factors have to take a bit of a back seat if there is to be any fun, and the fact that we were clearly about to play a game was sufficient justification to use the selected language for the students at least! Check out the following thread for some further thoughts about where 'Do you like (name of food)?' might properly fit into more authentic discourse "scripts" (ultimately, 'Do you want/fancy a banana? I got some in Tesco's' (then, there is 'Would you like...?') is more suited to DIRECTLY offering food (and this is perhaps ultimately more of an adulty thing to do), but '(Do you) like' (whatever sport, music etc) is a more useful verb generally...you might consequently even decide to write off the whole of the above syllabus and start from scratch (even if that meant that the notion of countability might get less of a look in)): http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=2229 ; you might also find this interesting too: http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=53345 (thread about teaching in Japanese elementary schools)].

Hope that wasn't too boring - just fancied showing you that ideas (reasonable ones?) do start flowing once you've decided to start somewhere yourself in not only the teaching of kids, but also the planning and materials development for their lessons, and it can become much more rewarding this way (I myself enjoy drawing silly pictures at least, anyway!). All of this rather assumes though that you will have quite a lot of autonomy (or will need to need to take the initiative on account of possibly appalling methods and materials being provided by an employer!).


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Dec 28, 2008 2:31 pm; edited 13 times in total
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twelveways



Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oops

Last edited by twelveways on Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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twelveways



Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That wasn't boring at all Fluffy, very interesting and informative Smile
It sounds so much fun teaching young kids, and rewarding as well.

It does sound like it will be quite complicated dealing with people with absolutely no experience of my language but I guess that is why I am doing the course.

Cheers again! Going to check out your links now...

12
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words, twelveways! I'm glad you enjoyed reading my post. Smile I had quite a bit of free time/was a bit bored yesterday (and had felt like writing here on Dave's about some more of my experiences and ideas in a bit more detail again), and your thread just happened to set my little furry paws a-typing. Very Happy

Good luck with the TEFL course, by the way, and feel free to ask questions about teaching, or Chinese etc (I speak Mandarin).

Oh, and did you know that it is possible to edit your posts (i.e. you could've added that 'Cheers again! Going to check out your links now...' to the first of your two near-identical posts, and deleted (indeed, not even started) the second) - not that I really mind post repeats! Wink Cool
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twelveways



Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lol, I didnt even notice I posted twice! sorry about that, user error.

Im getting quite nervous about the course now, 2 months to go and I am sooooo unprepared. My Mandarin is going ok, still in te very basic stages and my pronounciation is probably awful, Im hoping I will find it a lot easier once I am able to have 121 sessions with somebody...

Could you recommend any good reading (books) that could prepare me for for my future career? I know there are lots of books of different teaching styles all with different approaches but I am looking for something that would make sense to a beginner, something along the lines of 'Teaching English For Dummies' (if only). Ive read a lot on the web but everything seems to contradict everything else, it would be nice if I could have one solid reference to use that comes highly recommended.

Thanks again,

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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, posts can be submitted twice or more, especially when the site slows down a bit and you maybe have pressed the button a few times.

Hmm, when I post advice about good books, the list can start getting a bit long, so I'll really try to force myself to keep your needs in mind (and am hopefully thus a bit more selective and helpful than usual in the following); remember though that you really can't beat sitting down and dreaming up activities yourself once your language awareness motor is tuned, oiled and up and running!

For a general guide to ELT methodology, I'd recommend something like Lewis & Hill's Practical Techniques, Harmer's How to Teach English, Scrivener's Learning Teaching, or Harmer's The Practice of English Language Teaching (books arranged in roughly increasing order of length at least, not so sure about depth though - LTP/Thomson rocks!); then there is Richards & Rodgers' Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (it's good to get a bit of the historical overview), Richards' The Context of Language Teaching (a very interesting and useful collection of papers), and Bowen & Marks' Inside Teaching or Senior's The Experience of Language Teaching (both useful for reflecting, when you've got a bit of experience (or possibly even before then!)). I also quite like the idea of getting serious about teaching conversation (to adults at least), so Thornbury and Slade's Conversation: From Description to Pedagogy seemed worth a look to me at least. I can't think offhand of any decent TYL books.

But I think that what ultimately generates ideas, confidence and options is language awareness. Try to keep reading up on grammar! Here are some books on grammar (basically, courses that will enable you, should you eventually feel like doing so, to go on to use anything up to fully comprehensive reference grammars such as Quirk et alís CGEL, Biber et al's LGSWE, or Huddleston & Pullumís CGEL, with potentially much more ease), arranged in roughly increasing order of complexity:
David Crystal, Making Sense of Grammar
Leech et al, English Grammar for Today
R.A.Close, A Teacher's Grammar (this might be more at home in with the methodology books like Richards' TCOLT above, though)
Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman, The Grammar Book (2nd edition)
Biber et al, The Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English
Huddleston & Pullum, A Student's Introduction to English Grammar

Michael Lewis' The English Verb is good for learning specifically about verbs (unsurprisingly, given the title!) and how to teach 'em.

As for "quick" reference books, Swan's A-Z format Practical English Usage is very popular, and I quite like Eastwood's Oxford Guide to English Grammar (similar presentation to Swan, but this is more of an actual grammar, and could've been included in the section above after Crystal. Kills two birds with the one stone, then?). The COBUILD Grammar is also a pretty good reference book and again the type that you could learn a lot from by reading through it at greater length too, when you have time. Then there are more wide-ranging, discursive books such as Michael Pearce's The Routledge Dictionary of English Language Studies, or the Oxford Companion to the English Language etc, which are great for browsing too.

Don't forget also that advanced learner dictionaries contain a lot of grammar information too, and come with powerful and very portable CD-ROMs. It's really hard to say which is best, but I think it's a toss-up between either the Oxford ALD 7th edition of the Longman DOCE 4th, although the Macmillan ED and Cambridge ALD are also pretty good (but Cambridge in the 3rd edition are probably retaining their previous method for organizing the entries: http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=15424#15424 ). I used to swear by COBUILD but I haven't checked to see if the new American English version has improved on the BrE editions which followed the BrE 3rd (which to me had represented a pinnacle of sorts - see if antimoon.com has more to say about this). Check also the books on teaching vocabulary/lexis at the link below, particularly Lewis' The Lexical Approach (although this really may only fully resonate with you when you've got a year or two of experience under your belt).

But you might like to wait until you're in China (if you're not there already) and see what you can get there (Chinese publishers' licensed copies of books are much cheaper to buy in China), and the training centre and/or school could have a decent reference library that you could make use of - they should have a few supplementary activity books at least, in addition to whatever learner coursebooks/textbooks are there. Cambridge does a pretty good range (better generally than the similar range from Oxford, I feel):
http://www.cambridge.org/elt/catalogue/catalogue.asp?cid=15
http://www.oup.com/elt/catalogue/isbn/31013/?cc=gb

Anyway, here is a much longer link/list (with links within it perhaps worth following) that details some of the above books, and many more!
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?p=547851#547851


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun May 23, 2010 7:02 pm; edited 11 times in total
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twelveways



Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again for your input and time Fluffy, very useful indeed.

Yuo say it may be cheaper to get the books in China, however, I was under the impression that English books were hard to get hold of over there (I have not left the UK yet). I think I might buy a couple of those books now and then see what I can get whilst there.

Gonna go see what Amazon has in stock now...

Smile
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
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Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the books are actual imports into China, they will probably not be much cheaper than in the UK (and may in fact be more expensive). But the books that are reprinted under license by Chinese publishers will be substantially cheaper (though the range will be more limited, and the quality of paper and printing generally worse). I'm talking mainly dictionaries and grammar books here (possibly bilingual), rather than glossy methodology guides (you'll probably be best, and want, to pick up one in the UK pronto and get reading, eh!).

FWIW, a CGEL reprint in China only cost about 45 RMB (an amazing saving); Palmer's The English Verb reprint just 8 RMB. The Longman DOCE 3rd was quite expensive, about 70 RMB if I remember correctly, but then dictionaries are more popular with students (=there's more money to be made from them!), and it was a hardback edition (it was actually snazzier than the UK version, especially because the font size was a bit smaller and crisper and just looked better on the slightly smaller, dinkier pages, to my eye). I'm not sure what the market is like in China now for grammary stuff like Swan. Other books that I got in China included imported AL stuff from the likes of Carter & McCarthy (expensive/comparable to UK though, like I said above).
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just remembered this post/thread:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?p=332133#332133

Beijing very likely has something pretty similar to the FLB in Shanghai.
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Teejay



Joined: 25 Jul 2007
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey fluff! Thanks for posts...very helpful and useful!

Hope you'll be bored again and will have time to write some more:)
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Teejay! I'll write up the lessons beyond the fifth, then, and maybe upload and then link to a few scans of the sort of pics and/or worksheets that I developed (as an example of what can be "achieved" if one puts one's mind, hand and eye to it...isn't anything spectacular though, just plain good old b+w drawings). However, as I was only a semi-regular dispatch AET, my elementary syllabus doesn't extend beyond a dozen or so detailed lessons for any grade (there is some variation across the grades in the activities, or at least their ordering and the extensions/performance expected), as I often didn't see the same class more than once a month or so on average, but even that's enough to (have) in a year introduce(d) most of the kids to at least the present of the copula, if not the language of DO, and grades 5 and 6 in my better or more regular schools even had a crack at present progressive, and a crash-course introduction to the alphabet (see my 'Alphabet/Phonics related to kana' thread by way of the (also my) related 'How fast did you learn kana?' thread, though this is not relevant for those who aren't teaching Japanese kids). I guess that one could begin to make increasing use of commercially available materials after a while, if one did not have time to keep developing potentially better/more cohesive or relevant original stuff...certainly, there are at least some nice pictures to be found in textbooks or online (for example, that frog/horse thing).

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:34 am; edited 2 times in total
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
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Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those who'd like to see some of my dodgy drawings, here are some links to ImageShack (a free image hosting server):
http://img338.imageshack.us/my.php?image=hiddenanimalsot8.jpg (Lesson 4's '"Hidden" animals')
http://img265.imageshack.us/my.php?image=animalsandtheirfavefoodar1.jpg (Lesson 5's 'Animals and their fave foods')

BTW, the animals commented upon in lesson 3 (A: Oh, a(n) _____! B: It's _____!) were a giraffe, a hamster, a spider, a snake, an elephant, and a gorilla.


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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