I am a full-time content writer for a well known media company. I have a Master’s degree in English language teaching from a UK University. I am currently studying for my doctorate in vocabulary acquisition. During my free time I volunteer at Leicester Tigers learning institute helping children to learn the best way to remember the meaning and spelling of the word. Before accepting my current position, I worked for many years in heading up a writers’ team within the media industry.
This learning journal looks at different groups of learners under different classroom conditions. Firstly, this journal examines the class profile and its links with the specific abilities, needs and interests of the group of learners.
Next, it closely examines my strengths and weaknesses. Finally, it focuses on the goals set for development.
|Nationality||Saudi Arabians (L1-L4)|
|Class Size||Maximum=30, Minimum=3|
|Age (learners)||20 to 40|
This is a record of the specific group abilities, needs and interests of the learners.
|L1 – L4||Saudi Arabians||Enjoy reading & activities, problem-solving||Students on a business course||Intermediate||Cooperative, work well with others, complete work quickly and accurately, encourage independence|
|L5||Algerians||Like speaking situations||Technicians||Intermediate||Tend to want to do own thing and not stay on task, do not have positive attitude towards classroom activities, very talkative|
|L6||Algerians||Enjoy reading and writing – write all the time||Pilots||Intermediate||Problems with social interaction, very quiet, very limited English use|
Besides the learners’ profile, the dynamics in a class also come into consideration. I have three different sizes of class at different hours of teaching. R eflection on these classes showed that the livelier discussions were o n the Tuesday in the second period and the Wednesday in the fourth period – mid- week and during more relaxed hours of the day. I n the Tuesday morning lesson, the students were enthusiastic and fresh in using grammar ( modal verbs) in exercises and inclined towards checking their errors.
On the W ednesday, the topic of discussion (Life in 2060) was interesting and started with a short video. The brief video introduction made students think creatively and encouraged longer discussions on vocabulary and text.
From lesson 4 to 6, the class size fluctuated . It started at thirty and went down to th r ee in lesson 6. Due to the reduction in class size I had more time to respond to individual learners’ needs by giving more emphasis on single word meanings and pronunciation.
In my last lesson, a sense of teacher-student relationship was achieved. It was easier to manage. They were less self-conscious and were trying to contribute in the class by speaking. It was an interesting lesson and the original aims were immediately adjusted due to change in the group of learners. Therefore, it made me learn not to make assumptions about teaching such as students’ needs, previous knowledge and importantly assuming the same group of learners ( as observed before).
|board work||volume of speech|
|confident manner||pronunciation problems (mine and students’)|
|body language||time management|
|handling electronic resources (OHP & Projector)|
One of my strengths is that I easily adapt to different environments which allows me to be flexible talking to people of different nationalities. As a teacher, I begin my lessons by explaining the text and start with a motivating warm-up exercise to prepare my students and get them familiar with new words, grammar rules and writing skills. It is fun to start with a video, game, pictures and posters. It helps in getting students’ attention. The students get excited, especially in reading lessons ( in lesson 3: a video introduction to the topic of lesson). An introduction of a topic by linking their personal experiences helps in integrating enthusiasm in learners to learn a language.
The board organization is very important. I try to be creative and clear with my board work. Another significant point for reflection is practis ing writing on the board. This was illustrated in the following example when my supervisor in lesson 2 noticed capital letters on the board. The students beca me confused about a few vocabulary words due to my handwriting. As a result, I felt it is important to learn the management of the board. One of the most effective strategies I performed was dividing the board for different uses and by using different colours of pen.
A c onfident manner is another quality I possess. It is reflected in my body language and I am not hesitant in speech. B eing well-prepared for the lesson , and knowing its vocabulary and pronunciation, results in a rise in confidence level.
Having discussed my strengths, due to my confident manner I am inhibited from g etting into longer conversations. One significant point for reflection is increasing teacher talk in the lessons. As a result of this experience, I brought down the volume of speech.
The n ext significant point for reflection is the difficulty encountered in managing the adults in lesson 1 and lesson 5. This was illustrated in the examples of doing listening activities in lesson 1 and managing excited learners in lesson 5. Despite these feelings of disempowerment, the next time I find myself in a similar situation I will ensure that I am better prepared, with pauses in listening activities and organising role plays to praise talkative students.
Moreover, one of my greatest weaknesses is monitoring my speech. As a result of this experience, I felt that my speech is fast and results in several pronunciation errors. Slowing speech was frustrating. One of the most effective strategies I performed was recording my speech on to tape and analys ing the rate of flow as well as pronunciation errors. For future practice, I will ensure that I check pronunciation before teaching.
Goals set for Development
|Goal||How it will be attained|
|Pronunciation||Phonetic alphabets, miming, choral repetition and moving strips of paper|
|Time management||Effective lesson planning, identification of needs of learners, clear stage aims, teacher’s intentions|
|Adapting activities||Needs of the students, attending learning sessions|
I have set a personal goal aimed towards correcting my weaknesses. I will work on practis ing my own pronunciation and my learners’ pronunciation in the class. I have planned to correct pronunciation by using phonetic alphabets, miming, choral repetition, and moving strips of paper. By practis ing on a daily basis, I will successfully correct pronunciation and not miss pronunciation errors unconsciously.
Secondly, I have decided to work on my time management skills in the class for an effective learning lesson. This is the area most affected by unclear aims of the lesson and teacher’s intent ions. I intend to set smart goals to focus time on those activities that are important to students. In this area, I am also monitoring the volume of speech. It enables me to provide clear instructions.
After that, it is fun to adapt the activities to meet the needs of learners. I will practis e adaptation of materials by gathering more information on the needs of the students by attending a learning session with them or by attending the teaching lessons of colleagues. It permits the addition of effective elements within the activities for a better lesson.
Other Teachers’ Performance
|Colleague 1||Teaching vocabulary, time management, rate of speech||Using the L1|
|Colleague 2||Clarity in speech, correct pronunciation, ways of correcting pronunciation, decision making in class||Less use of board, always sticks to stage aims|
|Colleague 3||Enthusiastic, clear board work, eliciting||Calling students by strange sounds, getting answers from boys only, no adaptation of activities to suit the level|
I recall Colleague 1 who was teaching vocabulary in an effective way. Colleague 1 was teaching vocabulary to Algerians. I got empowered with the way of teaching vocabulary by drawing pictures on the board and eliciting from students. This way of teaching vocabulary is effective in retaining its meaning in long- term memory. This experience develops better understanding of words personally and confidence in promoting the precise understanding of a meaning through associations with the word. It is easy and seems to be effective in lesson 6. At the same time, the emphasis on pronunciation can be given more time.
Moreover, I was inspired by another colleague (Colleague 2) for this teacher’s moderate rate of speech. Colleague 2 has a tendency to use short sentences with simple vocabulary and correct pronunciation. This teacher made me want to be creative and write my own script for classes. Sometimes, the script is negative and humiliating for the students. According to students, they may not like their teachers using constructive sentences all the time.
Another instance has empowered me to stick to the goals to cover in the lesson. This teacher stu ck to all activities as they were planned without be ing distrac ted by the large class size and mixture of students at different levels. It is frustrating for the learners as a group or as individuals. However, I find it was a reasonably good decision as far as a trainee teacher is concerned.
Furthermore, I recall Colleague 3 who was using hands to point to learners for an answer in a group of males and females. This was their third lesson. Colleague 3 should have used paper strips to recognize their names. It was frustrating for an observer. For instance, this teacher was more inclined towards getting answers from males. Therefore, it was humiliating for female learners in be ing deprived of giving answers. It is not such an effective way of eliciting answers from the learners as the activities were not adapted to the level of the students.
Exercise of Stimulus/Personal Responsibility – Decision Making in the Classroom
Decision making is a hardest part in teaching. It has to be done quickly. For a trainee, it is always challenging. Classrooms come with different characteristics to influence decision making. As per my experience from six lessons, it occurs due to change in the group of learners (lesson 6) or in changing the pattern of activities at any moment to engage the whole class in the lesson and to provide an effective lesson.
In lesson 1, the second part requires practice with phonetic alphabets. The learners had problems and less knowledge of phonetic symbols. It was a difficult situation for me and the students to do three activities using phonetic symbols. A very natural thought of practis ing the words by checking their sound came in that situation. It required participation from the students.
In lesson 5, the group of learners were very talkative. They tend to do their own thing. I wanted to develop positive attitudes in them towards classroom activities. They were talkative. Instead of being frustrated, I should have asked questions to model oral language for other students and could have praised appropriate behaviour. There should be some activities ready as extension work to avoid disrupting other students.
On the other hand, only three Algerian pilots were quiet. They had more difficulty with social interactions. I purposely increased the teacher talking time to encourage small group interaction and praise their small achievements. In order to make best use of the time available, I started a discussion .
Sometimes, decisions were successful while others we re not. It is an instantaneous process which comes with experience.
To conclude, this learning journal has addressed a significant number of strengths and weaknesses. A confident manner is important in a real classroom. However, I strongly believe that to bring clarity to my speech, pronunciation practice is my major goal of development using appropriate methodologies. Despite the feeling of being confused, the next time I will find myself practis ing my exercise of stimulus effectively.