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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One-Third of Oxford TESOL Course is completed

So far, so good

I just spent my weekend in the Dallas area (Plano) attending the first 2 days of an Oxford Seminar to be certified to Teach English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL). It was a major relief to discover that my experience in Mexico was an anomaly. What do I mean? Don't misunderstand. I loved teaching in Mexico. I loved the kids (at least most of them). But the school there is not designed to properly teach English to students whose first language is not English. In my first 2 days of the Oxford Course I learned that:

1) Most schools where I could end up teaching will utilize text books designed to teach English as a foreign language or second language. That was not the case in Mexico where they are attempting to use Abeka Language books.

2) Most schools will have students assessed for their level of English and students will be placed in appropriate level classes. Again this was not the case in Mexico where students were placed in English class solely based on their Spanish level - 4th grade Spanish students were automatically placed in 4th Grade English even if their English level was not up to that level.

Both of these changes will make teaching English easier and more enjoyable.

Another change will be in the Teaching Methodology. This will take some effort on my part. The norm will be to teach English Grammar indirectly rather than through rules. You will use the English Grammar through context and activities and have the students pick up the correct usage rather than try to have them memorize rules or learn it by mimicry and repetition exercises. So the days of having students learn verb tenses by I run, you run, she runs, we run, they run, that I used somewhat effectively in Mexico will be replaced by usage in sentences and conversation. Did she run in the race? No, she didn't run in the race. Did they run on the beach yesterday? yes they ran on the beach yesterday.

I am also having to adjust to a class format of Warm-up exercise, Activity, Review with a common learning objective. Once I get it all figured out and use it a few times I think it will be easier. This is especially true since the text books I will probably be using will have the activity portion more or less laid out. I will just need to tweak it, supplement it and add warm-up activities and reviews.

All in all I am happy with the first weekend. Two more to go. In the interim I have a lot of reading to do, homework to do and need to begin deciding where I want to teach next year - that is the goal of taking the course after all.

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