Language learning happens when students are given language-learning tools in the classroom and put them to use outside the classroom. Here are some principles I adhere to as an instructor and curriculum designer:
Task- and Objectives-based Learning and Teaching. My aim is to adapt my teaching style and activities to fit the objectives and dynamics of my current teaching situation. Each of my syllabi is designed with a clear vision of where we need to go as a class and the tasks students need to perform. For instance, if students are preparing for entrance into mainstream academic classes, I implement initiatives such as class observation, panel discussions, and guest faculty lecturers to help them make the transition.
Language Assessment. Because teaching and assessment are interrelated, I develop appropriate, well-designed tests to measure achievement in the same way that I test. In this way, tests create a positive washback effect in motivating students to improve their English. Effective assessments are essential in helping learners see what their strengths and weaknesses are. I believe every teaching objective should be evaluated, even if it is only an informal performance check.
Maximizing Class Time. Class time should be used for learning activities that cannot be done outside the classroom. Students can then take what they learn and practice in the real world of native English speakers, where possible. Hence, I strive to help students develop effective strategies so they can continue to learn outside of class.
Learner Responsibility. As a teacher, I want to help students take control of their own learning. Students must come to class regularly, prepared to practice what we are learning. I expect students to take responsibility through questions, study, and most importantly, seeking opportunity to use their skills. Successful learners will seek opportunities to use their language skills outside the classroom and use the tools I give them to study and practice on their own.
Teaching as a Process. Like learning, teaching is also a process. As a professional in the field of TESOL, I am constantly adapting and implementing new techniques gleaned from research and professional development workshops. No matter how many times I have taught a certain course, I continue to improve and develop it and adapt to current needs. Furthermore, I strive to contribute to the profession by conference participation and leadership in TESOL’s affiliate organizations.
Weaved into all of these principles is the importance of student-centered teaching. In everything I do, I focus on the individual needs of my students. To this end, I place a great importance on diagnostic testing, to gauge individual strengths and weaknesses. The activities I use maximize authentic language input and exposure, and include interactive, student-led activities, both inside and outside the classroom. The end result is effective teaching and learning.