Monday, June 4, 2012

Cover letter - lessons learned

            I am an aspiring English teacher interested in working overseas as an English instructor to advanced English students. I am native speaker of English from the Washington D.C. area. I have spent the past three months training to become a teacher through the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) practicum course at Ohio University. I have now completed the full course work as well as graduated from my university. I was able to teach class on my own for a two-hour class period for five weeks (as well as team teach with 2 other teachers for 4 weeks) while being observed and using that feedback to improve. I taught advanced English learners who were from a variety of backgrounds including Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Chile, and Colombia. They were all adult learners and very eager to learn. I enjoyed my first teaching experience very much and learned a great deal.
            Before the practicum began I was very nervous to teach my first class. I had taught only a few sample lesson activities in a previous Linguistics course. I went into the course thinking about all the different techniques and historical teaching methods I had learned about in my studies. I thought I would want to try out many of them and I would be able to see how useful they were. Although, I did find methods to be important, what I found to be the most important focus was the student's needs. I enjoyed working with the students each class and at the end finding out if they though the lesson was useful and what they might like to learn in a future class.
            I think over time my teaching style certainly improved. I was able to converse more easily with my students by the end of the quarter. At the start I had trouble projecting my voice as well as hearing the students and often referred to the lesson plan. In later classes I spoke louder and moved closer to students and listened closely. At the beginning of the quarter I was a bit shy to correct the students or interrupt their speech or reading. Over time I was able to discern the best time to perhaps recast certain phrases or polite ways to correct student work. Using the board to correct work with out specifying certain students was a simple technique I liked to utilize. Some of the grammar points were difficult for even me so I always had to take the time to prepare in advance so that I could answer any question posed to me. Even when fully prepare however there were sometimes questions I didn't know the answers to so I was always sure to find out and come back later with an answer. I think by the end of the quarter I had a nice rapport with my students and they felt more comfortable sharing their lives during class discussions.
            What I enjoyed most about teaching was seeing the students finally understand a new grammar concept or correctly recall the meaning of a vocabulary term that had been covered weeks before. Sometimes when covering a particularly tough grammar point the students would not be able to fully utilize the structure until the second or third time reviewing it, but the happiness the students expressed was well worth the time and diligence to make sure they full understood. I also thoroughly enjoyed class discussions when students were able to offer their opinions. Students were able to practice their speaking and seemed to enjoy themselves at the same time. I believe that if the students are actively engaged and enjoying a lesson they will be able to retain the target information for a longer time. 

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