In Honduras with some of my students.
Enjoy this brief message from Joshua and his comments below.
How did TESL@TFLI prepare you for teaching in Honduras?
I will begin by pointing out that my day job in Honduras is teaching junior high Literature and English classes for students who are already bilingual (most all of them have attended the bilingual school since Pre-K). Then in the evenings, I teach private ESL classes for adults. My TESL training helps me with both types of teaching.
With that said, a few big contributions from TESL@TFLI come quickly to mind. For starters, my lessons are stronger and flow better because of things I learned about how to “pull students in” and generate interest at the beginning of activities. As a teacher, there’s nothing like getting to the meat of a lesson as students lean forward with wide eyes because the right moves were made to effectively engage them up front.
The TESL@TFLI course (specifically, the ESL field teaching practicum) also prepared me to be mindful of actions I can make to increase the amount of speaking and participation on the part of students. After all, the point is not for me to do most of the talking when it is the students who are supposed to be practicing the language!
Also, TESL@TFLI helped me discover the manner in which my natural storytelling gift is a powerful tool in my classroom. I’m able to write lessons that use storytelling to involve students in the unfolding of the learning experience. When students are affected on an emotional level, they are more likely to learn while also enjoying the ride.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to teach abroad?
Set up appointments to ask questions and hear from people you have access to who have done the kind of thing you’re interested in. And definitely dialogue with the good people at TFLI who can help you think when it comes to things like considering work contracts that are sent to you for review.
Once you arrive in your new country, be adaptable and flexible. When challenges come up, give yourself a break (and give one to the rest of your new world). This may be as simple as reminding yourself that most challenges are not actually the end of the world. In fact, lots of times things have a way of working out just fine, whether sooner or later.
In your classroom, be prepared for the possibility that teachers who are consistently “in charge” – teachers who, for example, use consequences to hold students accountable – can avoid the work stress and classroom misconduct culture other teachers may live with.
What is your best experience so far teaching?
Teaching is among the things I was born to do. In general, the best part of teaching ESL is the nature of the experience one has when teaching language learners (particularly adults). There is so much joy in assisting these learners, witnessing their progress, and getting a boost from coming in contact with their motivation and enthusiasm.
I have been amazed to discover the amount of work great teachers invest in lesson planning and preparation, and I’m amazed at how the ESL classroom experience makes it all seem like work worth doing.
Tell us an interesting classroom story.
As I said before, I teach Literature and English in a bilingual school for my day job. As a Language Arts school teacher, one feature of my classroom style is that all my students know to automatically reach for a novel and read silently after finishing classwork.
Here in Honduras, one of my 8th graders found a book about Abraham Lincoln in the library and checked it out. During his silent reading in my class one day, he raised his hand to have me answer a question at his desk. When I walked over to him, he asked, “In the United States, they had slaves, right?”
I answered yes and was caught off guard by his follow-up question:
In that moment, the purity and innocence in the perspective of a Honduran adolescent exposed me to something profound. I can’t remember the time in my life when I saw the world through eyes like that. Needless to say, the experience added another line to the list of reasons I’m thankful for the teaching abroad experience.