Today we started observing others teaching TEFL classes. The observations are scheduled either before class (from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) or after class (usually starting around 3 or 4 p.m. until about 8 p.m.). Because of the way we were sitting during the first class, Lyn and I are in different time slots. I am paired with a young woman named Ailsa (pronounced Elsa). Lyn is paired with a young man named Michael.
Observing someone else other than our teacher teach was interesting, especially since Luke is British. His English pronunciation and word choices are very different from what Raul’s would be. Nevertheless, it was interesting to actually watch someone teach English to non-English speakers.
The group of students I observed ranged from around 13 to 30 years of age. There were several women, but mostly men, and the mend did most of the talking. It was clear that they had some English vocabulary skills; however, they frequently resorted to Spanish and Luke responded in kind. The interesting part of that is that Raul told us not to speak in Spanish as it was counterproductive. The thinking is, that if you are translating, you are not learning the language. So when Luke was speaking in Spanish, it caught me off guard. I mean, I understand. If you know the first language it is a simple matter to engage in it. But, what if you don’t? You can’t. In some ways, it seems to me that it forces the students to be more attentive and engaged in order to follow along.
As Raul said, frequently when they are speaking in their native language, they are not really engaged or listening.
I have to say that Raul is an exceptional teacher. With the exception of some quirky words or turns of phrase, his command of English is impressive. His teaching style is very easy and upbeat, and he really works hard to make sure we all understand.
English Grammar Scares Me!
Initially, I was very intimidated by the course content. Apparently there is a strong reliance on teaching verb forms and sentence structure. While it makes the teaching more formulaic, it was terrifying to me. We didn’t learn English that way because we “acquired” it naturally as part of our day to day life. I do recall learning verb tenses and grammar when I learned Spanish, which helps me somewhat, although English feels more complicated. Why, I don’t know.
After watching Luke today I feel a little more confident that I can do this. Lyn is a little less certain, since he doesn’t speak any Spanish and was put off more by Luke’s approach. On the other hand, he will have a better command of the grammar than I will, since he remembers just about everything he reads. I suppose together we will muddle through.