BOOKBRIDGE runs the Professional Development Stipend Fund to support the development of talented young professionals and to secure committed and well qualified staff members for our learning centers. Sujitha Miranda, Community Hero in Bandarawela, has received a stipend to do her TESOL exam for teaching English to speakers of other languages. In this article, she describes what she has learnt during TESOL.
In my teaching career, I underwent many trainings but my all-time dream was to get a highest qualification in teaching to become one of the best teachers. I was thinking of CELTA, TESOL or any ESL courses. But I didn’t have time to travel to the capital city Colombo to do any of these courses. Also my financial situation was not high enough to invest in these courses.
When Monika informed BOOKBRIDGE Community Heroes about the stipend fund which BOOKBRIDGE supports to improve us, I was able to discuss with Monika and choose to follow online TESOL course.
I was able to start my TESOL Course with the support of BOOKBRIDGE Stipend fund. It was a great support for me to get the fund since I was at the early stages in my learning center’s operations. With the support of Monika, I found that the Coursera online platform is the easiest way to continue TESOL while working in the learning center.
The course consists of 2 specialization. I enrolled to the 1st Specialization in March, 2017 and completed in August. I began the 2nd Specialization in September and was able to complete by January, 2018.
The course has many videos to watch and documents to read. Every week, I had to submit an assignment. I was able to do this during my leisure time at the learning center as well as at home.
When I was doing these courses, day by day I started improving and polishing my teaching methods.
In Sri Lanka, English is taught as second language in schools, but in a teacher-centered method. So, though the learners know the rules of the language, they don’t have enough practices in using it. They are trained only for passing exams. Therefore, my purpose of teaching became as “MAKING THE LEARNER TO USE WHAT THEY LEARNT IN THEIR REAL LIFE SITUATIONS”. So the Communicative approach taught me a lot to do in my classes.
I learned many other approaches as well. Especially, in the comprehension approach, Shane & Jessica taught us to understand and allow the learner for their Silent Period which is really working out at the classes. Making the learner to lower his/her effective filter and role reverse for the dominant students are really effective in my classroom.
Affective Humanistic Approach also can be used in classrooms. In this approach the learner will overcome their stage fear. They are ready to make mistakes. The learners’ spontaneous or critical thinking improves a lot. Direct approach also supports me a lot in teaching high school and young professional students. Information gap and self-correction methods workout very well for them. Sometimes, translate and back-translate which was used in Grammar Translation Approach also helps the young professionals to improve their writing skills.
When I use these in a combination according to the purpose of the learner, I could see how they improve quickly and try to converse in English in the classes. Usually I start the class with reminding the previous lesson. But in my teaching, I was doing 60/40 method which now I feel that I have not given enough practice for students. After learning TESOL methods now, I started doing 80/20 approach. Now I give 80% of the time to practice. This 80% practices started creating a huge impact. They are more comfortable and confident in speaking English now.
Apart from all these, TESOL course taught me to link technology with language teaching. They provided many online platforms which could be used in classrooms. They taught how to give practice connecting technology. This gave me some good ideas to use the tablets and laptops in my classrooms.
TESOL teaches you the secret of successful in language teaching. You will learn to understand the students and their needs. You will be well-prepared for lessons before entering the classes. You will learn to create a perfect lesson plans for your lessons. Finally you will learn to give Practice, Practice and Practice to the student to improve their language.
I stress again that TESOL inspires you, guides you and moulds you. Sure, you’ll groom as a best teachers. Thanks to the BOOKBRIDGE stipend program which is the backbone behind this success.
Watch these videos I have made about some of the micro lessons I submitted to TESOL assignments: