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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:
Volunteering teachingAs I have been working my way through this online TESOL
course, I have had the amazing opportunity to teach english
to a young refugee woman from the Congo. I have also had the opportunity to volunteer in two ESL classes with beginning level students. Both of these experiences have been extremely worthwhile and I have learned so much.
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned is that I need to continually be putting myself in my students' shoes. I discovered that it was very easy for me to get caught up in the progress that I wanted my students to make, without realizing that I had unrealistic expectations. I found myself feeling impatient when a seemingly simple grammatical concept took longer than expected to explain, and when after my explanation of it was not understood.
I found an easy fix to all of my frustrations: devote some time to learning my students' language. Once I sat down with my Congolese student and tried to learn some basic phrases in her own language, I was quickly humbled, and realized my own pathetic ability to speak even a scrap of Swahili. As my tongue scrambled around in my mouth, desperately trying to pronounce words correctly, and as my brain strained to remember the first phrase that she had taught me, I immediately fell back into my proper place. At these moments, I gained a greater respect for my students and the progress that they were making with the craziness of learning a new language.
Volunteer teaching in my own country has also given me an excellent opportunity to be in a safe environment and practice teaching before I am completely on my own in a foreign country. I have enjoyed observing and being a part of ESL classes where I can see firsthand how an experienced teacher handles the classroom, and I have been thankful for the opportunities that she has given me to teach the class. Observing and teaching are such completely different realms, much like driving a car around a city, or simply being the passenger. As the observer it is easy to see which things should be changed or done differently, but as the teacher, it is interesting how your perspective can quickly shift.
Volunteering has allowed me to enter into a unique opportunity where I can visit my new friend in her home, and learn what it is like to be completely immersed into America. I have been a foreigner in other countries before, but it is hard to step back and feel like a foreigner in my own. Now, however, through the eyes of my new friends/students I can see the the challenges that arise when trying to navigate and understand what it means to live in America.
I am happy to volunteer my time to these people, and I imagine that if I was in a different country I would be thankful for anyone who would take the time to help me. Volunteering is just one way for me to share with others the blessings that I have been given. I have learned much about humility and patience, and I have also gained a wider perspective on the ways that english
can be taught.