Teaching Philosophy

I am always asked why I chose to change career paths and pursue teaching English to speakers of other languages. This is a short teaching philosophy that I hope answers that question. This philosophy is dynamic, not static, and I am sure that with time and experience, I will be able to refine and amend this philosophy to better reflect the teacher that I hope to become.

My Philosophy on Teaching

There have been many teachers during my education that have shaped my perception of what an effective teacher should be. From the fun-loving science teacher, Mrs. Schmidt, who made biology engaging and relevant to a small town teenager, to Dr. Starkey, who opened my eyes to new world philosophies and ideas through thoughtful discussion and community involvement. The teaching style that both of these teachers had in common was the care and consideration that they showed to the learning goals of every student, and this is what inspires my own teaching philosophy.

In my own second language learning, the main method of teaching used was audio-lingual, also known as the army method (not surprising since my teacher was a retired Navy instructor). I found this method to be ineffective, and possibly even detrimental to my early ESL learning. My preferred style of teaching is the direct method, primarily because my interest is in teaching students that are intermediate speakers. This method encourages the students to use their knowledge of the target language to effectively communicate in a classroom setting to be understood and to understand their peers.

My main objective as a teacher is to facilitate my students in learning lifelong skills that prepare them to function successfully in a globalized world. I hope to achieve this through effective teaching practices that engage them to develop critical thinking and processing skills. For any teacher to be successful in a TESOL environment, they must be thorough in engaging and understanding the needs of their students, as well as knowledgeable in their comprehension of English and the rules thereof.

My background in liberal arts directly informs my teaching style. Inspired from my own experience with teachers, my teaching method is a combination of discussion and empowerment through delegation. These two teaching methods seek to challenge student’s preconceived notions of what they know in order to push them to think critically and, through delegation, students become empowered to take their learning into their own hands, with guidance from the instructor.

The way I will achieve my teaching objectives is through the day to day interaction with the student, through the creation and implementation of curriculum that is designed to bring relevancy to the subject, as well as providing opportunities for students to express themselves and their ideas.

The personal rewards of teaching in a TESOL environment is observing the enrichment of students lives through their mastery of English, and how this mastery can help them become active participants in a globalized world. English learning to me is an opportunity for people to better their lives, make new friends, and ultimately, create less division in a world that seeks to highlight our differences instead of our similarities.

Studies in Linguistics

We are over halfway done with the semester, and I managed to escape Second Language Acquisition relatively unscathed, and withe a decent final grade. For the second half of the semester, I am enrolled in Studies in Linguistics, which so far has been an interesting and enlightening experience. Learning about how the brain processes information and the ways in which we can break down languages into smaller components has changed the way in which I view everyday language use. Right now we are focusing on morphemes, and the types of affixes that are in multiple languages. Next week is phonology and midterms, so wish me luck!

There is also an exciting opportunity for a paid internship through the State Library Grant to assist one of my professors with teaching citizenship English at local libraries around the Oklahoma City Metro. Stay tuned for updates on wether or not I get the job!

See you soon,

Miriah

Reflection: Second Language Acquisition

Over the past eight weeks, there are many things in this class that have challenged my preconceived notions about how humans acquire languages. Throughout the duration of this class, I have learned more about how humans develop language, and how that is applicable to my teaching.

I have learned that the seemingly simple question of ‘how do humans acquire language?” is a hotly debated topic that covers a wide range of disciplines and theories. Each of these theories contain certain truths that, in the end, piece together and try to answer this question to the best of our current knowledge about how the brain works and how that directly influences language learning.

As far as application in the classroom, the examples in the book did an excellent job of translating these theories into concrete classroom activities and scenarios that will be prevalent in the EFL/ESL classroom. Spada and Lightbown did an excellent job in explaining the significance and relevance of these theories which make this book, while challenging at times, a very intriguing read. Their melding of theories, along with research in the field through case studies, paint a picture of the SLA classroom that will mimic the classrooms that us as future EFL/ESL teachers will be living in daily. 

For how this has changed the ways in which I view teaching, this class made me reevaluate second language teaching that I have received in the past, what methods were used, and then forced me to reflect on if there could have been a better method to explain the materials in order to achieve internalization. I feel that this will be especially useful for me later in the degree program, when it gets closer to teaching others outside of a classroom setting. In my own classroom, I hope to take these theories and put them to the test. Through later curriculum development courses, I see myself using the theories discussed in this class at different stages to achieve a well rounded and effective teaching method. With my previous experience teaching, I recognize now the ways in which I can elevate my teaching beyond simple lecture based classes to encompass a wider variety of learning methods through interaction and involvement of the students in the learning process.

Overall, this class was challenging but also an extremely important part of the TESOL experience. Learning the theories behind why we teach the ways we do helps put into perspective the enormity of the subject and it’s importance in the EFL/ESL classroom.