What makes me a good English teacher ? Why am I living in Taiwan teaching English well there is one answer to those questions...
When I met my Taiwanese wife in Boston, MA. all we could do was smile and “uh-ok” at each other. Every day we spent together I taught her a few new English words and helped her understand what they meant and how to use them. Every day I watched her English grow as well our bond. I remember looking at the material her English teacher had given her and I barely understood it, how would she learn from this. I remember we sat on a bench in the Boston commons and laughed about the odd names and words in this difficult piece of literature. I thought to myself there has to be a better way then just struggling through this. Then I realized I could teach it better, so I did just that.
No one wants to do something too hard or uninteresting, no one wants to feel embarrassed or feel silly or stupid. I can tell you learning languages is hard. My spoken French and Chinese are probably not understandable. What I can tell you is that everyone learns differently but they do it much better when they feel good and happy. I don't care if you say something wrong or make a mistake, as long as we can laugh, feel good and learn from it. If you just try to speak and write with me you are already on the way to learning a language. Oh before I forget, the answer my questions is LOVE. Its not the icky squishy kind you would think, but more about the passion and desire to grow within yourself with someone or with something else. My love for teaching the language has made me many friends and an unbreakable bond with my wife. I love sharing a bit of the happiness that the language has brought to my life with others around me. I have witnessed children and adults alike grow with there understanding of the language from simple “uh-ok” to full blown conversation and integration to daily life. To have a part in something like this is one of the greatest feelings you can have as a person
Taiwanese students tend to merge with the mainstream when it comes to expressing themselves. I always encourage my students to think differently and critically, which means that it doesn’t matter if they make any mistakes in class as long as this can help increase their self-confidence. In the conversation class, my students have to discuss a lot about specific topics and stand for themselves. And of course, each topic discussion requires full preparation before class. Learning a language has a lot to do with courage and self-confidence. Acquiring knowledge also accounts for a vast part of strengthening language skills. I ask my students to regularly spend time reading books/newspapers, watching TV series, or simply listening to radio. It’s all about creating the so-called English environment. I strongly believe in this phrase, “We can never reach perfection; at least we’ll not give up trying.” Of course this is not the goal that each of us has to go for, but the learning progress cannot continue without our long-term commitment to practice and hard work.
Teaching a language is a wonderful job--- it not only gives my students a chance to explore their potential for addressing the world in more than one tongue, but also myself a chance to hear, understand, and help many true voices that shouldn’t be muffled by their own defeated heart when facing the quick pace of globalization. Studying and preserving our mother language is crucial, and learning the English language well gives us the second propulsion system to catch up with the world. In addition, while learning English, we not only have the access to a great amount of information and knowledge, but also obtain both humility and confidence as a part of a bigger community.
“Learning by using,” is what I always say as my teaching principle. Trace back when we were little, and to examine how we learn our mother tongue. We could figure out that it actually shares the same idea to acquire a second language. The key to understand or to learn a language is to use it every day. And practicing could be one of the main elements to acquire a second language well. That is, time spending on practicing a language is essential.
Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy learning English! Make it fun and personal. Have a goal in mind. If you enjoy learning English, you’ll see learning as a pleasure instead of a chore. If you make it personal, you will understand how having a knowledge of the English language will enrich your life. If you set a goal, you will succeed. Don’t give yourself too much pressure. Break down your goal small tasks. Set realistic outcomes. Example: every day you can learn 5 new words or spend 20 minutes listening to the news in English. Write everything down: goal, tasks, success. Reward yourself. Be creative and incorporate your learning your everyday routine. When you are waiting for the MRT, see how many new English words you can find in advertisements. Or better yet, see how many mistakes you can find The next time you are standing by some foreigners, eavesdrop and see how much of the conversation you can understand. Don’t be shy and make foreign friends. Like everything else in life, what you put it is what you will get out of it. Life is short. Make every day count. Today is the start of the rest of your life. Enjoy!