Tuesday, August 28, 2012

20120828 Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Early Childhood.

20120828 Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Early Childhood. ( ... is best done by professionals who are competent in the psychology of early language development.)

The very idea of an online teaching course is flawed and contradictory.  In practice, doubly so.  There are logical-reasoning errors that make circular arguments against itself.  Having said that, I have done this:
Teaching a Gym Class to Pre-school

Completing the TEFL, also known as Teaching English as a Foreign Language, course has proven an interesting exercise in building personal confidence but a poor investment in professional development.  One of my previous blog entries shows a letter from an employer stating that I am "too old" to be considered for a teaching job.  So, in an effort to re-balance the universe; post-rationalise my decision; and force a self-fulfilling-prophecy immortalised in the  words of Jack Black from his role as Dewey Finn pretending to be Ned Schneebly - "Those who cannot do; teach. And those who cannot teach, teach gym".  

Lesson One from Bridge TEFL.
TTT. Teacher Talking Time

TTT stands for Teacher Talking Time.  TTT can be a problem in a class for foreign-language students for a number of reasons.

1) - A teacher may feel that the natural silence that occurs between asking a question and receiving and answer may be "too long".  This time of silence is subjective and can vary between teachers and as a result the teacher may start talking again in an effort to elicit a response to fill an "awkward silence".  The act of asking another question will interrupt the student’s line of thought and delay the answer even further.  A teacher should allow time for a student time to understand the question and formulate an answer before prompting for a reply.

2) - The student's time is valuable.  A language class should give the student time to learn, practice and allow time to recall the information needed to create a positive experience and would like to see some return on their investment.  A student may also be a customer and therefore, customer perception regarding value for money needs to be considered.  A student, a customer, will make a subjective internal decision on the value of a language course based on their experience in the classroom and may frankly assume that a more economical way of listening to an hour of genuine English speaking may be accomplished by simply listening to the radio.

A Native English Teacher working in a Chinese school must consider several factors when the student is thinking of an answer.  One strategy is to put the student at ease by asking them to answer the question in their own language. 
This demonstrates to the teacher that the student can understand the question, and has an answer, but is searching for the right English words.  

How to avoid excessive TTT.

1) Be patient.  Allow the student to think quietly.  Students need to feel that their teacher is patient and their learning is important and we can use the class time efficiently to listen to their answer (Marsh, C. 2008).

2) Overcome the social stereotype that every occasion needs a backing sound.  Students learn better when they recall - it is recall that makes a memory stay (Karpicke et al. 2011).

I plan to use student centered activities such as English word games like Bingo and Hangman. The use of open questions such as "What have you done today?" and "What do like to do?" will be encouraged where students can answer and demonstrate their progress.


Marsh, Colin. Becoming a Teacher. Pearson Education Australia 2008.

Karpicke, J. Practicing Memory Recall Boosts Science Learning. cited 2011.

Bridge TEFL

White, Mike.  School of Rock. Paramount Pictures 2003.