Good day, readers! I’m just back from a two-day teaching trip in nearby Hyogo prefecture (hence the tardiness of this blog entry – apologies). Teaching for two days straight with virtually no break (except for sleep) is kind of fun, and a fast-track to development of teaching methods.
In that two days, I taught classes from beginner level to advanced learners. Materials ranged from simple TOEIC practice tests to entirely communicative lessons with only ideas and themes as resources. Here are some key things I learned from this rather intense work session:
Lower levels are surprisingly hard to teach
When every word has to be taught and examples given for almost every activity, things are slowed down somewhat. Lower level learners (LLLs – actually, that’s not a real acronym…. I just made it up) can be a real challenge, constantly requiring creative thinking and lots of mental energy.
Teaching is physically demanding
OK, so it’s not as physically taxing as building a pyramid single-handed or carrying Boris Johnson around the Himalayas in a rickshaw, for example, but I did feel very tired at the end of the day. The many hours of standing up can be a real pain in the legs.
High level learners are much more fun
As a natural way to balance the challenge of lower level students, advanced students are, I’ve realised, quite fun to teach. Not only are activities and new ideas easier to explain, but you can also have a laugh with them thanks to their better understanding of the nuances of English.
Don’t worry about students who don’t want to learn
There are, unfortunately, all too many students who would rather not be in the classroom. Don’t take it or them too seriously. Without neglecting the negative students, focus on the students who want to learn and carry on with your lesson.
As I write, there’s a typhoon stirring outside and it sounds like my dustbin has just blown away. The weather here in Japan can be both spectacularly good (balmy 30-degree evenings in May) and dreadfully horrid (especially if you’re a dustbin), but at least here I’m not forced to suffer endless grey skies.
This is good news for an English teacher in a surprisingly practical sense. People here love to talk about the weather – just as they do in Blighty – the difference being that in Japan there’s nearly always some meteorological event worth discussing at the outset of a lesson, while back home things rarely progress beyond, “I got soaked on the way over…” and “Bet we’re not going to have a summer this year.”
That’s all for today! Check back on Friday for more TEFL goodness. In the meantime, leave a comment with your opinions and ideas!