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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
Problems for learners in EcuadorI have lived in Ecuador for the last 5 years, and the longer I live there the more disappointed I become with their educational system. My experience with teaching other subjects and dealing with the general public there has made me appreciate the education I received in the US. Although, it was not perfect by any means I learned to reason, study, and pay attention. These things all seem to be lacking in the Ecuadorian educational system. Students seem to be on eternal recess in grade schools
, and in high schools the students get up and leave without asking permission and show utter disregard for authority. This all seems to root from a complete lack of discipline. No one seems to want to discipline or maybe they just don’t care enough to go through the trouble of disciplining.
I see this being a big challenge to teachers there. They not only have to teach the language, but they also have to teach reasoning skills and respect for authority. I can imagine this is the case in many 3rd world countries where the education is poor. As a teacher this will mean more preparation and patience. I can see the advantage to using games designed to get everyone involved and keep their attention. Even though the students may be in high school they act and have the attention span of a 6 year old. Thus the activities have to be designed to keep their attention and keep the pace moving.
Another disadvantage for students in Ecuador is that many have bad family lives. Many come from broken homes or single parent homes. What may be worse is that many times the father is a drunk and beats the family. This can adversely affect the ability of the student to learn and pay attention in class. The student may have more pressing matters on his mind like the beating he is going to get after school. There is not much a teacher can do about this other than try to be understanding and a support to such students. The last thing they need is for the class room to turn into another place they dread going to.
The poor economic condition there also affects many students in an adverse way. May families can barely cover their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. If the student needs a dictionary or other materials for the class many times the money just isn’t there. This needs to be taken into account by the teacher if the students are children
. You can’t always expect them to have all the required materials. This can be remedied my pairing those students with ones who have all the needed course materials or dictionaries. The teacher can also keep a couple of spare dictionaries to loan out to students.
Many students in Ecuador also have vigorous work schedules that may leave them with very little time or energy at the end of the day. As mentioned in the course, it may be necessary to do a conversational class or at least keep the activities short and sweet.
There definitely are challenges involved in teaching there but also many rewards. The people in general are very warm, appreciative, and patient. I look forward to overcoming these challenges this fall.