Five Questions Every Struggling English Teacher Should Ask
Aug 28, 2008 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) 3891 Views
Problems. What would we English teachers ever do without them? You might think, “Well, I certainly would like to live without any problems”: But would you really? Problems and difficulties in EFL and language teaching are notorious for forcing change, creative thinking and spurring new growth when we are impelled, as it were, into new directions and venues we’d not otherwise choose. Problems? Bring’em on.
Five questions that can help turn any negative situation into a spearhead for English language teaching growth, development and insight are:
1. Where is the pain?
Where do you have problems, troubles or difficulties? Are they with the learners? Is it because of the administration? Are the teaching conditions the cause of your anxieties? Is an apparent lack of resources or equipment constantly driving you buggy? Pray tell, are YOU possibly the problem? Are the aspects you’re considering ones that you could ultimately impact in some way? Identifying the pain and its source is a major step in getting relief or generating change.
2. How could the pain be eased or eliminated?
What solutions could you come up with to address and manage the source of your anguish? Brainstorm as many possibilities as you can in an hour, a day or over a week or weekend. Get everything down by voice recording yourself and others, jotting down notes or mind-mapping. What might you do? Who might you see? What could you learn or improve in? What do you need? Would new skills, advanced training or availability of improved resources “knock out” your pain?
3. How could I learn or grow from addressing the issues?
What positive aspects do you envision occurring as a result of your squarely facing the issues involved? Will you be better educated? Are you going to have more specialized experience? Will greater recognition be headed your way? Does addressing the problem put you in line for a better salary? How about making you a candidate for a higher or better position? Are your learners going to be better educated? Will they have improved communicative skills? Can your job become easier in some aspects? Are you a living “dinosaur” who needs to upgrade into the 21st century? (Yeah, you know who you are!)
4. What forces and assistance could I draw on for help?
Where’s the backup coming from? Would any of your colleagues be of assistance? Could one or more of them give you new knowledge or skills that would be useful? How about resources available on site? What about resources available in your city or town? Are there any state or regional resources you might be able to access? Professional, trade, commercial and government organizations would be good venues to line up and approach. How about other schools, institutes and business or educational resource centers? Have you considered possibilities from association with the media in your area? Brainstorm, ask and research as many organizational possibilities as you can. Line those up too.
5. How can I give back or share from my growth or development?
If life is truly a cycle, then you’ll derive even more benefit from your efforts if you arrange to give something back to your community or profession as a result of what you may be able to accomplish. Can you volunteer a few hours a month in some way? Provide resources, knowledge or experience to others who might benefit from what you know and can do? In what ways could you publish, share or return benefit to your institution, community, colleagues or profession?
So, problems? Bring’em on. Use problems, difficulties and sources of anxiety to nurture your own growth and development. Turn negatives into positives or let the negatives help to generate positive change and new aspects in your English language teaching and learning. Problems, what would we do with them? Use them to help us learn, grow and improve, that’s what. And if you need any special help or coaching, just e-mail me and let me know what I can do for you. I’ll be happy to help.