It has been two years since Warrick started writing this column, and just like everything does, it has run its course. Before we say goodbye, here are his last points on teaching.
It’s been a lot of fun writing this column, not least to read the occasional criticisms from teachers who disagree. No opinion should ever be set in stone and it is only through the exchange of ideas or opinions that things change for the better. It has also been quite humbling to hear or read words of praise from people who have read the column and told me that it has given them new ideas, whether as a teacher to apply them in the classroom or from parents to apply them at home.
I would like to make this last column of mine a kind of recap of some previous topics I covered previously. These are some of the most important things a teacher needs to keep in mind in order to succeed in this profession.
1. The nine mental skills
These can be divided into three levels. From lowest to highest, a successful teacher has:
Level 1 (Basic Skills)—a positive attitude; stays motivated; sets goals; develops people skills.
Level 2 (Preparatory Skills)—self talks; researches their craft.
Level 3 (Performance Skills)—class structure; applies the eight EFL points; and effective classroom management.
2. Eight EFL points
I believe that if you are an ESL teacher of young children, these are eight essential points that not only should you be applying in every class, but you should be looking at applying 2-3 or more points at the same time during an activity. These eight EFL points are: i) demand full sentence answers; ii) teach how to ask questions; iii) use actions; iv) use every opportunity to learn and your environment; v) build on your students’ English knowledge; vi) use your prescribed book (if you have one), and make sure your students recognize the book’s content; vii) use points/rewards; viii) teamwork/collaborative learning (teacher talking time vs student talking time).
Parents are their child’s first teachers. Instill a learning culture at home by taking an interest in what your child is doing at school.
This refers to planning out the term/unit of study. There is no one way of programming, but there are some things that each plan MUST contain. These include: 1. A list of outcomes (what are you hoping to achieve by the end of the unit?). 2. Content. An explanation of what the content of the unit is. It can be as short as one sentence. 3. Pre-assessment (what kind of activity will you do to gauge what your students’ existing knowledge is—to be done at the start of the unit). 4. Differentiation/extension activities (how will you cater to those who may be behind the rest of the class? How will you cater to those who are a little bit ahead of the rest?) 5. Assessment—what kind of on-going assessment will you be conducting throughout the unit? What kind of assessment will you conduct at the end of the unit? How will you record your findings? 6. How will you incorporate ICT (Information and Communication Technologies)? 7. Lesson Register (so if a teacher subs in for you for one class, he/she will know exactly where you are). 8. End of unit Reflection (did I achieve the outcomes? Do the students understand the concept? What could I have done better? What worked well?).
4. The different stages of learning English
Every ESL teacher should be aware of what the different stages of learning English are. Knowing the stages will inform your teaching, and help you communicate to parents what they should expect at each stage. The stages are: 1. The listening/silent stage; 2. The early production stage; 3. Speech emergence; 4. Intermediate fluency; 5. Advanced fluency.
5. What you can do at home
Everyone wants results and knowing and communicating what parents can do at home to speed up the English learning process is important for everyone involved.
Parents are their child’s first teachers. Instill a learning culture at home by taking an interest in what your child is doing at school, by watching documentaries together, discussing the news, etc.
Children have different ways of learning (they could be visual, kinesthetic, auditory, logical, or a combination of these). Know what their and your learning style is and ask yourself how you can use your strength and theirs in a complementary way.
I am still on WeChat, so if there are any parents or teachers who would like to further discuss these points or other teaching topics, please feel free to contact me on waz2321.