Teaching. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I think when I was younger it was because it was what my mother had studied in school. I also remember thinking how great my second grade teacher was, and that I wanted to teach second grade as well, so I could be just like her. As I’ve grown older, and maybe a little wiser too, my goals have changed a little but, most importantly, I still want to teach. I want to teach because when I look back on my life, I think about the many teachers I myself have had throughout my years of education. I look back and remember the teachers that I enjoyed, and those that left a mark upon my brain or upon my heart and I want to be like them.
A teacher is one who facilitates education for their students. A teacher must have knowledge of the subject matter. Just because someone speaks English does not mean he or she can teach it. As I’ve read Don Snow’s More than a Native Speaker, I’ve learned that there is much more to being a language teacher, and I plan on learning what I must do to be the best English as a Second Language teacher that I can be.
As a teacher I think it is important for me to know that there is not one correct method of teaching. I have chosen to follow principled pragmatism, and will adjust my classroom according to the needs of my students. I will choose to use a combination of methods that will foster learning in my classroom and will most directly help my students in their language learning process.
English. I was born in California and have spoken English my entire life. My parents speak English, my grandparents speak English, and even my great grandparents spoke English. But when I was in school, for my compulsory education, I never really liked the subject of “English”. But what is “English” really? Is “English” what I studied in those dreaded classes, the study of grammar and how to write essays? Partially. But more importantly, English is a language; spoken, written, heard, and read. The English language is becoming more and more used throughout the world every day. English is beginning to be described as the first global lingua franca, and in many cases is the required language of international communications.
English, as well as all other languages, is changing every day; whether its new words that are being developed due to new technology, or old words that are disappearing for the same reason, our language is not stagnant. For this reason, I am aware that I as a native language speaker also need to be “learning English”. I need to know how to use English correctly and explain why it is that way. If my students ask me something and I do not know the answer, I will tell them so and do my best to research and find the answer for them. I want my students to trust me and the information I give to them.
Speakers. Throughout my education I have had many different teachers, with different personalities and different teaching styles, and still there are only a few that I remember well. I remember these teachers well because their focus was their students. What a glorifying feeling as a student, when you know that your teacher cares and is concerned about you.
Most of what makes a teacher good starts with their relationship with their students; they should set high expectations for their students, they should form relationships with their students and they should engage their students in the lessons.
I think as a teacher, students should be the most important part of lesson/course/classroom/etc. planning. Every student is different, with different learning styles, different backgrounds, different purposes for learning English and more. As a teacher, I will get to know my students; their background, their purpose for learning English, what they like about English, what they struggle with the most in learning a new language, etc. I will learn these things about my students and adjust my lessons and class time accordingly. A teacher is one who facilitates education for their students; however, it is important for the students to take charge of their own education and decide what they want to do with the English language. Although teacher’s are important, the students are in charge of their own intake.
Other Languages. In Junior High School and High school I studied Spanish. Since coming to college I’ve also taken 4 semesters of American Sign Language and I’ve received a minor in German. I actually first looked into my major, of Linguistics, because I liked learning languages so much. Because I’ve studied three other languages, besides English, I feel like I am able to empathize with those who are learning English as a second or foreign language. Learning another language is really hard and takes years, I’ll even venture to say a lifetime, of learning. I have a goal for myself that I will continue studying languages for the rest of my life. I think my continual study of language learning is an important aspect of who I will be as an English as a Second language teacher. This will help me to understand my students better, and also it will help me to know which things do and do not work in language learning.
As I have learned along with my second languages, along with a new language itself, there is also a new culture attached. It will be important for me to help my students to adjust to this new culture. It will also be important for me to learn more about the student’s individual cultures and nationalities. If I am willing to learn these things about my students, it will help me to understand them better and will help me to cater my classroom activities to them.
Conclusion. As a teacher I want to ensure that my syllabus, lesson plans, and classroom revolve around my students. Students are the most important part of a language classroom, and I will do whatever I need to, to help them most effectively in their learning process. This is my teaching philosophy for now, but I am learning new things every day, and I will change this philosophy accordingly to the new things I learn.