Friday, 10 August 2012

TESL teacher training

As of this week I have completed phase one of three of my TESL teacher training at Saint Mary's university in Halifax, NS.

The teacher of teachers was one Paula Cheal.

I came into the course with no expectations of what we were going to learn, which in hindsight was probably the best foundation for actual learning. I have been teaching various mathematical disciplines for some time, but, as I quickly found out, teaching a language is a different cup of tea altogether.

On thing that didn't even cross my mind is that the language you are using to teach the students is the same language that they are attempting to learn. Tragically, this means no linguistics acrobatics for me in the ESL classroom.

Perhaps the most surprising thing for me was the idea of "teacher talking time" versus "student speaking space". I altered the last to keep the alliteration train running :) I won't be able to do that in the class, so this will be my gymnasium!

Basically, in the ESL teaching world, the educational paradigm is flipped on its head. In a traditional classroom, we have an "information fountain", the teacher, from which the thirsty travelers, the students, quench their thirst for enlightenment in their subject of choice. In the ESL classroom, however, we have a wise sage, the teacher, who shows the desert wanderers, the students, where to look without telling them what to see.

This wise sage accepts the wanderers as they are, for he was once a wanderer like them. He knows which roads lead to water, and which roads lead to mirages. He only knows the roads that he has walked down. He just so happens to have walked more roads than they have.

This sage does not condemn mistakes. They teach us where we are stuck. The sage merely suggests different ways to move forward. We all wander in different ways, you know, so you never know which directions will lead other wanderers to water. There will be other wanderers along the way, though, and they may have traveled roads which you have not yet seen. 

The sage must speak slowly, clearly, and give the wanderer only enough information to go in the right direction.

I am a man who loves paradigm shifts, so this information was quite valuable indeed! Anything that helps me step through to the next level is awesome in my books.

When you treat every other wanderer as a sage, then the world can be your teacher. Hopefully these courses will help me teach the world :)

Live long and Prospoer,


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