Despite the natural knack for teaching – at the age of eight I taught a friend how to ride a bicycle to discover later that I, myself, did not know how to ride a bicycle – my very first official language teaching experience was a disaster. When asked to teach Russian to a beginner (and having been theoretically trained on how to do that) I stayed with the student for about fifteen minutes, then excused myself and cried for forty five minutes because my student had already known the things I was planning to teach her and I did not know what to do with her! After that day I swore that I would never teach again. That was twelve years ago and now, with a more than ten-year teaching career, I look back at those times with a smile.
Teaching somebody how to speak a second or third language requires a special set of skills, which, like any skill, can be learned with a certain amount of guidance and practice. Luckily for me, I had wonderful mentors who taught me the art of language teaching and emphasized the importance of focusing on teaching students how to communicate in the language. Nowadays, conversational approach has been almost unanimously accepted by many as the most effective way to teach and learn another language because it allows students to jump into speaking the language and start learning how to use it. Check out these enlightening videos on language acquisition and teaching using conversational approach:
No matter what is being taught, I am convinced that the learning process must be fun. Along with being prepared, organized, knowledgeable, and all the other obvious traits of any other professional, the most important characteristics of a successful language teacher, in my opinion, is creativity. Being able to spark your students’ interest, keep them engaged, and help them learn in a fun and easy way are what makes an amazing teacher.
Check out our Pinterest board for some creative ideas, as well as inspirational, fun, and educational resources:HTTP://WWW.PINTEREST.COM/WRLDCLSSLNGGS/TEACHING/
"Who dares to teach must never seize to learn", said John Cotton Dana. And what better way to learn than from the other fellow teachers? Call me old-fashioned, but I am very much a believer in personal face-to-face communication that no technology can replace, and coming together to share ideas can be a super powerful tool in growing as effective teachers. Oftentimes we, teachers, do not have the opportunity to observe our colleagues in action and, therefore, must use our own imagination to create activities, or rely on Internet resources. The latter does offer access to a wealth of ideas, but actually talking to another teacher and finding out what has worked for them, and being able to share your personal insights, is a valuable tool that we ought to take advantage of more often.
If you are a teacher in the South Florida area and would like to attend one of our exciting teacher training workshops - check out the schedule of upcoming seminars.