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BANGKOK 22 April 2019 05:08
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Deke

How Do You Learn To Teach

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I've been asked to consider teaching a course at a Thai university. I have no problem with my knowledge of the subject (I guess that's why they asked me to help teach it) but, other than a few seminar presentations here and there, I have no formal teaching experience.

Over the years, I've sat through more than a few lectures given by others. Some instructors, in my opinion, were much more effective than others. Is there a place that you can learn the "theory" of teaching in a few easy lessons? If not, would taking a TEFL course (even though I won't be teaching English, or even want to teach English) be of any benefit in this regard?

I'm not being offered big money for this but it would probably look good on my resume. Also, if I decide to do this, I want to do it right.

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I know a fair amount of people that have decided a TEFL will benefit them even though they won't be teaching EFL/ESL per se (although regardless of the subject you teach there generally will be some English teaching taking place).

Others don't!

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I've heard that universities don't expect their permanent lecturers, let alone their guest speakers, to be experienced in classroom teaching, but I don't know. My govt. career back home included various teaching assignments, yet both times they scheduled me for the basic instructor's course, we had to cancel. They insisted I teach anyway. I tried teaching EFL on my own, and did poorly. After I took a TEFL course, I became a better teacher.

However, you won't be teaching EFL. IMHO, if you have 4 WEEKS of free time, go for a real course. If you think you'll be doing more teaching in foreign countries over the next several years, go for it. But if it's a short teaching assignment, to uni. students, why bother?

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There is no big secret to teaching – if you know your stuff – as you say you do. All you need to do is to present the information in the most accessible way depending on your students.

There is a lot of discussion amongst teachers as to the usefulness of lesson plans but for someone like you they will be a big help. Just write down what you are going to do or cover with the students, what you want them to know and understand at the end. Some notes on what you are going to say – not word for word – just to keep you on track if your freeze up and can’t remember what you are going to say.

Always have more than you need because something you think may take half an hour to say may take five minutes and then you are stuck! . Make a guess at how long each bit of the class will take so you know that you have enough for the time.

Try using overheads or visual aids with short punchy bullet points – not too much because people will not read it. It is good to do this if you are new to teaching and feel nervous because it takes the attention of you a bit.

Review how it went in your own mind after the class and change things as you need to for next time. Get the students to do something, an activity of some kind.

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For my six pen'orth, I'd say go for a TEFL course. I'm doing a teacher's certificate here (in the UK) at the moment but the theory (and a lot of the practice) would, I feel, be irrelevant in what I hope to be my future environment - teaching Thai youngsters in Thailand.

Certainly those courses I've investigated being run in Thailand cover a great deal of classroom techniques including schemes of work and lesson plans. We cover those techniques in the C&G course I'm currently doing, but I think that you'll find that the techniques being taught in the TEFL institutes are more geared towards the kind of situations you'll find yourself in there.

Going by the adverts on Ajarn, coupled with info I've gleaned from people already over there some schools offer you all the material, including lesson plans, etc. Others expect you to do it all and have the documentation ready for audit at any time. These include schemes of work, which can be a little more involved that lesson plans.

TEFL courses also stress the differences in language and culture you'll encounter.

For my part, I've taught at various levels in various environments from commercial training to prisons to colleges to school kids to fee paying adults over a period of 20 years. The first thing I shall be doing on arrival in Bkk will be to get stuck in to a 6 week TEFL course - not just because I need the qualification, but because I feel I could benefit from the actual course content.

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I think that the most important thing to learn if you want to be a good teacher is that the bottom line is "Did the students learn the skill or fact that I was trying to teach." If they did not then you need to examine how you presented the material and find another way. Teachers who blame the students for not learning are only trying to shift blame for their failure to the students. Testing should be viewed as an evaluation of the teacher's effectiveness. If the students did poorly then the class was poorly taught and the teacher needs to rethink the presentation, not just declare that the students are defective in some way.

Here I am the teacher and I'm trying to teach you something about teaching. In order for me to evaluate my method, there will now be an exam. Put your name on the upper right corner of your exam paper. Fold the paper in half so your work is inside the fold and put it on the table as you leave the room.

Question 1: If students don't learn what the teacher intended what should the teacher do?

Question2 (true or false): A test should be designed to seperate the good students from the bad students.

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I don't think a 'teaching english' course is particularly helpful when considering lecturing at university. The best way of learning to teach is learning by doing. If you know the subject material well enough you should be able to think ahead of the students and think on your feet to react to their needs / questions.

Think back to when you were a student (university) and try and model yourself on the best teachers you had then - why did you respond positively to them?

Look on the web, there is sure to be some course materials for some courses similar to yours that you can look at and adapt... No 2 groups of students are the same, tailor your course to your students needs.

Chownah is right though - don't blame the students for not learning, it's your job to FACILITATE their learning.

If the students don't learn, don't give up - try something different next time - learn by doing.

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I think that the most important thing to learn if you want to be a good teacher is that students are individuals and one of the differences among individual is a variation of learning style. Everyone has a style for learning that is most effective for them....some people like to be work alone and not talk much...some like to be surrounded with friends and talk back and forth about the subject. There are many different things that make up a learning style. For instance some people learn best by reading, some by hearing, some by speaking, some by writing. For instance, for me, if I am listening to a lecture I take notes. I almost never read them later but just the act of writing the stuff down seems to help get it into my brain. A good teacher must be a good learner....they learn about their students learning styles. When presenting information try to present it in a way so that every learning style can access the information. Presenting things both in written and spoken format is not necessarily just redundant and to be avoided....it helps different people learn in their own ways. Being able to evaluate your students' learning styles and then nowing how to accomodate them is an art and a science and is one of the reasons why being a really good teacher takes time and practice. If you don't understand what I'm trying to get at here then I highly recommend finding some source of more information on the topic of learning styles because this topic is essential.

Here I am the teacher and I'm trying to teach you something about teaching. Your assignment is to:

1. Read this text.

2. Make brief notes of this material in your own handwriting.

3. Read this text aloud to someone else.

4. Have someone else read this text aloud to you.

5. Think about this silently when you are alone.

6. Discuss its meaning with a group of people.

7. Draw a colorful picture to realistically or abstractly express some of the concepts presented here.

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Most good teachers are born with the gift - others are just instructors.

Edited by alex100

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TEFL type courses do help you teach more effectively I think but experience is the key. The more time you spend in the classroom in front of different types of people the more confidence you build up and the more ideas you get from other teachers. You can then use that confidence and those new ideas to your advantage and I think you'll find that the job will become easier.

I started my teaching career by doing private lessons and teaching small groups (5-6) of students in a small shop in my neighborhood. I was always one of those folks who hated oral presentations in school so I needed to overcome that hurdle before I could progress into delivering better lessons. When I took my first school job it was a real shock; going from teaching small groups to teaching 50+ Mattayom 2 and 4 students. Talk about being nervous! I pulled through it and gained some experience. I later went on to do a TESOL course before I got my current job. Although I teach kindergarten now I can say that the course I took does help even though it was geared more towards adult learners.

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Thank you mnoorsapl. Although I have always wanted to teach adults I find that teaching kindergarten kids is interesting; there is so much you can teach them at that age besides just English.

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Thank you mnoorsapl.  Although I have always wanted to teach adults I find that teaching kindergarten kids is interesting; there is so much you can teach them at that age besides just English.

I'd ask the same question when I came across kindergarten teachers. "why tech kindergarten". Answer was "less problem".

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Actually IME and IMO kids teachers are 'better' and more 'flexible' than adult only teachers.

It's only less of a problem to teach them if you don't bother trying to teach them (i.e. baby sit them).

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I've been teaching private drum lessons for bout 5 years now, and recently wrote a book (to be published sometime this year.)

While my style is to 'play it by ear' ... raed my student's level and creae a lesson plan on the fly that fits, I found that writing the book certainly sharpened up my organization and my lectures/explanations because MUCH more consice and too the piont.

So my recomendation is to write out

(1) what they need to know, in broad outline

(2) flesh out the broad topics with one-item, single pargraph topics.

ALSO - important. Don't take everyone understanding what you re saying for granted. This is something I've learned from my father, who has a Ph.d in science education and has coauthored a few textbooks in major distribution.

Make your examples clear, and as simple as possible. Make yuor definitions as concise as possible, and in the simlpest terms as possible. The dictionary usually doesn't help here.

For example, talking about the time signture in music, I say "the top number tells you how many, and the bottom number tells you of what." Silple terms, easy to understand.

Another interesting suggestion is that humans understand problems far more easily if they are in a social context. This might help you in making some examples - I guess dependnig on what you teach. but even attatching human names (e.g. Sally or Somchai) on things makes it easier for the brain to accept.

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