It has been quite sometime that I have been walking on the ESL avenue. English, is not a language, its business, its lucrative connections over the world makes it as popular as money. If you Google, you will find random surveys where they say there are more speakers of English as a second language or a foreign language than native speakers. As a matter of fact, I still doubt the numbers. There is a constant need to upgrade once proficiency in this language for better survival. Population is ever-growing and so is the demand of English. Be it a job, a new school/university, student exchange programs in native countries, you know what’s your #1 priority. Countries with colonial pasts, now majorly thrive on tourism and if that tourism can also connect them with the powerful language, it just serves the nation with a better dream. This is one such angle where ESL teachers get to actually enjoy the whole idea of “travel and teach”. That is just one perspective. However, let us now discuss what it takes to be a good (if not successful) ESL teacher. With my miniature experience as a ESL teacher trainer, here are few of my observations:
- We have to carry around our ECG always- empathy, creativity and generosity. Language is the barrier, so you gotta understand that even to crack an unbiased joke, ECG is absolutely necessary.
- A lot of times non-natives complain about not getting jobs. What most of us do not understand is that there’s something called pronunciation and by that I mean, the sounds of English! It is unfair, I know, but you cannot deny the fact that people do not wanna take classes from someone who doesn’t sound like a speaker of that language; if not completely, but almost. May be that’s how the whole idea of near native/neutral accents became popular. People, we know we are not natives, but if we still want the job, we gotta work it out!
- Grammar is not restricted to only the generic terms and activities. What about……vocabulary and their usage? Their synonyms and antonyms? Collocations? It is about the understanding the best possible ways to know the differences in applications that make communications proficient, if not expert? See what I did there!
- Classroom management. Well, well, well…….from the moment you step inside the class, this button should be active in your mind controls. The age of your learners, level of comprehension, cultural background, ethnicity and community, and so on essentially contribute to a positive learning environment. Facilitating the fact that the classroom belongs to them more than you. If you are the typical “travel and teach” ESL educator, or aspire to be one, remember that you are the alien, they are not! Your personality should be adaptive.
- No certification is bigger than your dedication. There are various TEFL/TESOL/TESL in-class and online programs that are available in the market. Do not confuse the certificate as a confirmed ticket to get a job. It is a skill not a passport. As interesting as it may sound, the ESL industry is full of ambitious and determined educators/facilitators. With changing times, the demands keep changing as well. So, it is extremely important to be dedicated to your arena and keep yourself updated with the latest teaching designs.
- Your lesson plan is your willingness to connect. It is when you can deliver the lesson plan in English and keep the cultural context in mind, you will know your major work is done right there. You will be a favorite teacher if you can blend local references to set the tone of your topic. Everyday will be a success if you keep yourself away from grammar translation method and replace it with effective materials and teaching resources to connect the lessons better.
- Age and level of your learners have got nothing to do with intelligence. Body languages are universal and gestures play a key role in ESL classrooms. Use them wisely and rationally!