Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I’ll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 4th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please get in touch with Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll let you know how you can start participating!
Please check out some other awesome blogs about teaching in the ESL classroom at: http://appetiteodysseys.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/teaching-and-learning-are-hand-in-hand/
I taught 6 years in Florida before I came to Korea. I am ESOL endorsed and I worked with ESL students who spoke little or no English, but that was maybe 3 students in my entire class. It has been a totally different experience working with entire classes of students with varying levels of English.
As a teacher, I know that the key to success in any classroom is classroom management. This has been ingrained in my brain after teaching in Korea. When I have classes with co-teachers, I really appreciate that they are able to help monitor and keep students focused. It is EXTREMELY difficult to get the students to listen and behave when you don’t really speak the same language. And don’t get me started on Kindergarten. They are precious, adorable angels when the teacher is in the room. The second she steps out it rapidly deteriorates into a scene somewhere between Lord of the Flies and the Hunger Games. The students in my afterschool classes are generally well behaved. And I can usually get my point across concerning their behavior, but there is always room for improvement.
Another key to success in the ESL classroom, or any classroom, is an unending supply of patience. I have to remember that English is not these kids first language. It may be easy to get frustrated after the 6th time of repeating, “How many pencils do you have” only to have the student answer “I am 6 pencils.” But hey, isn’t that life? One huge opportunity to learn and grow from our mistakes? When my coworkers have to repeat sentences over and over to me in Korean, I begin to truly understand how my students feel.
I have also learned that candy can be a teacher’s best friend. I know some people will say that the students should learn for the intrinsic reward. Do you go to work for the intrinsic reward or to get paid? I don’t always give out treats, but I like to encourage the students to participate. And working in an elementary school, candy, stickers, and stamps can be a powerful motivator.
These are just a few reflections on the ESL classroom. I could go on and on. I thank God for the opportunity to teach here in Korea, and to get a whole new perspective on education in general. I will use my experiences here to make me an even better educator when I return to the classroom in Florida.