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Thursday, 28 January 2010

TESOL France visits TEFL Paris: a Match Made in Heaven?

It's that time of the month again, satisfaction tinged with sadness, the Friday of the last week of January's TEFL Certificate Course here at TEFL Paris and, my goodness, hasn't time just flown by, as it always does!

We had Bethany Cagnol, the current president of TESOL France out at our place today, to talk to our trainees and generally drum up support and share The Knowledge, which was great. Thanks a lot for that Bethany - great to see you again, and thanks so much for forgetting the personal photo calendar I gave you - I see how much you value my presents then... ;-) (Just joking, which you knew, obviously!)

Bethany talked about working life in Paris as an English teacher, and her American roots certainly interested the Americans in this month's group who are realising that there are a few hoops to be jumped through before getting their dreamed-of new teaching job/life on the Old Continent...

Bethany, of course, has cheated and just married into the system. I mean, literally, Married In to the system. That's one of the easiest ways and, to be honest, the definition of 'marry' is getting looser and looser here in France, so that could be a serious option for certain people.

As well as thanking Bethany for visiting us, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all our wonderful trainees here at TEFL Paris for being such fun and so enthusiastic and just so into the course and doing their best. I have been really impressed by all of you - thank you.

And as a final sign/send off, I'll ask you a question.

Do yous guys remember someone telling you that teaching is all about asking questions? Juss wunderrin, az wun duz...

But that wasn't the question.

The Questions Are: "What was your best teaching moment on the course?

And "What event/situation did you learn from most?"

Anyone who has been on a TEFL course can take part, the more the merrier!

Read you shortly!
Sab Will is Course Director at TEFL Paris, a TEFL Certificate Teacher Training Centre validated by IATQUO


Nicko le Prof said...

Yes the course is nearing its end. I am feeling very fulfilled and eager to go skiing … err and to embark upon some teaching :-). My favourite, or a least one of the most memorable teaching moments was a joint lesson with Morna. We were doing comparatives in a competitive context. It was my sheep (played by Andrew in a woolly jumper) verses Morna’s goldfish skewered on the end of a fondue fork.

Nick: Look at my lovely sheep!
Morna: Ah, but look at my pretty little goldfish!
Nick: Pfft, my sheep is bigger than your fish!
Morna: My fish swims faster than your sheep because your sheep
would sink!!!!
Nick: But my sheep is so useful that it can make a jumper!
Morna: My fish eats so little that I feed it only once a week!
Nick: Your fish is as skinny as a piece of paper!
Morna: But your sheep talks as much as you do!
Nick: But your fish is boring like you!
Morna: Your sheep smells like a toilet!

At this point we all discovered Morna’s mental incapacity to say, or even think about the word ‘toilet’, without folding up in laughter. She finally got through the sentence but even then had to substitute ‘really bad’ before she could finish. And then we had to repeat it all again. It was a funny moment and the students enjoyed it too.

My biggest learning experience is that a lesson plan is only a plan and not a prescription. I have not yet delivered a full plan as intended. This is not bad planning, it’s just there is always need to adapt, due to a multitude of reasons like student numbers, student ability, time, student response etc. Personally. I mitigate this by planning a full lesson comprised of some sections that can be chopped in a seamless way, if required. The hardest part then is only the making of the decision to chop or not to chop. It’s far easier this way than having to improvise more material if you’re caught short.

Thanks to Sab and Agnès for an excellent course. I’m looking forward to putting their teaching into my teaching and into practice,

Nicko le Prof

Ps. A class of French people performing ‘The dead Parrot’ sketch. Who’d of thought that ay?

Larry said...

I would have to say that the biggest teaching moment for me was after a Group II class on conditionals, one of the students was chatting with me in between the two classes. He stopped for a moment and thought, and then with a very big grin, said "If I had the time, I would study more English." At that point, I realized that (at least for the moment) I had succeeded.
I also greatly enjoyed sharing "Ballad of the Landlord" with Group 3.

I learned the most from the "debriefings" after the classes, where I heard my colleagues' ups and downs, as well as my own. I also learned from watching the others. I definitely have alot more to learn about teaching methodology and general zappiness. But I think that TEFLParis has given me the opportunity to see it in action and even to appreciate how important it is!

Morna said...

Hehe, I really enjoyed the joint 'Goldfish -v- Sheep' lesson too! Although there is definitely a downside to being brought up on toilet humour... But anyway!

I think my best teaching moment on the course was when I taught a lesson on fashion history to Group 3. It was the first lesson where I felt I could relax, and it made me realise that I could marry my own interests with teaching English, to make my lessons more interesting. And if you're genuinely interested in the lesson being taught then your students are much more likely to find them interesting. (I'm also told that Nick and Joseph learnt some new fashiony jargon, such as 'A-line', yay!)

In terms of the situation I learnt most from, I think it was watching the trainers and other trainees teach. Everyone has different different teaching styles and I learnt a lot just by observing and thinking about what the others did best. Quite often they would be trying out techniques we had just learnt in class, and it was helpful to see those put into practice.

I really enjoyed the course and am really glad I got the chance to get to know everyone. I think the house worked really well and I hope to hang out with you guys again in the near future : )

Morna *

P.S. I have a home! I'm staying with a lovely family in the 12th ~ the flathunting trauma is over!

Hermann said...

I have to admit the goldfish vs sheep battle was one of the funniest lessons!! Morna and Nick did a really good job!

Anyway, my best teaching moment was with group 2. I taught a lesson on how to check in or book a hotel room. It was just great fun, everything ran smoothly. The topic was a real life situation and I guess when it comes to language learning practical is better than theoritical. The students enjoyed it a lot and so did I. I agree with Morna, how could the students be interested in the lesson when the teacher is not?

I think I learnt a lot from my fellow trainees and from what we did in the course with Sab. It was not so easy to put into practice but it was worth the try and I intend to keep on trying!

This course was a great experience. Thanks a lot to Agnes and to Sab

Sab Will said...

I'm loving your comments so far! What about you Andrew and Brianna and Alban? Let's have your thoughts! And make sure to let us know how youi job hunting is going, if indeed you are still hunting...

Andrew said...

Better late than never... I've been carefully mulling over my response for several days now, writing and rewriting each word time after time. Were it not for the delete key (I'll leave Larry to remind me what grammatical form I just used) and the computer, I would, no doubt, have scrunched up and discarded several trees' worth of paper in preparation for this moment.

Alors, my best teaching moment came with Group 3 on the 3rd week, specifically the camping lesson in which hardcore Frank explained to me why, if he could take one more thing on the trip with him, he would take a woman. That or the very last evening of teaching, doing a lesson on slightly less formal ways of agreeing and disagreeing with people, when Veronica countered my praise for Johnny Halliday's talents with the immortal phrase 'Rubbish, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!'

Which event or situation did I learn the most from? I almost want to say my nightmare lesson with group 1 toward the end of week 2. I think there's a lot of truth in the adage that you learn a lot more from your mistakes and from failing (spectacularly in this instance) than from your successes, and something really seemed to click for me after that unmitigated disaster. Having said that, it's still pretty difficult to assess yourself from within your own bubble of being, so I'd probably (like Morna) have to nominate the time I spent watching my fellow classmates delivering lessons, seeing what they did differently from me, how they incorporated new ideas and techniques into their lessons and just watching their confidence, ability and adaptability increase over time was pretty inspiring. By the end the course fees were worth it to watch the intro to Alban's final lesson alone, as he described how the old woman who had bought his gun had heroically/cold bloodedly mown down several dozen people in the past week.

Laterz, bientôt, ciao and stay in touch, peeps / y'all / youz guyz, etc, etc.

The pink frog said...

It reminds me of the fun, exciting and stressful (!!) experience we had in June last year!
I remember my best teaching moment during the course, it was a tasty lesson which involved organizing a party, tasting some food, going shopping, making (or pre-making) and eating a fruit salad!! French people love food, and they love eating!!! So I’ve been reinventing this lesson since … with different role plays such as going to the restaurant and so on … it can be adapted to different level, even with business people, a tasty lesson in a (real) restaurant is great fun !! Another lesson that I have readapted since is a phone conversation with cardboard phones!! Students love fun props!!

To answer the second question, during this course, I have learnt a lot from my brilliant colleagues … obviously. The souvenirs are a great inspiration for planning my lessons today!!
My notes from the course are like “a bible” to me … (well, almost ;-)) I still use the + and the x checks for my lessons planning, the self evaluation techniques are essential especially when working alone..etc !!
Moreover, the resources from Sab on the web are a useful tool for my student and I (or should it be me;-)). Although some find it difficult to either receive their hotchpotch English lessons or to understand them (I’ve got to work harder!)
Thank you Sab !! Did you recognize me this time ? My spelling, grammar and vocab mistakes have probably given me away (or should it be “gave me away”;-))
So this is the second time I’ve tried to put a comment on this blog ! I hope it will work this time!!

Sab Will said...

Yes, I recognise you from your description of the party - it must be Céline - am I right? Who could forget that amazing lesson! (I don't seem to remember being invited to the party...!)

I'm delighted you are using lots of the things we did on the course in your teaching - great! Do keep in touch and let us know how it's going. Who are you teaching? Adults? Kids? For a language school? Independently? This sort of information is valuable for all of us!

Sab Will said...

Andrew, loved your posting! You know, the 'disastrous' lessons are not really as bad as they seem when you are standing up there slowly dying in front of the students! But yes, I do agree that you can probably learn more from things that go wrong than the contrary.

Alban's 'gun culture' lesson certainly was a classic, yes. And Veronica's 'Rubbish, that's the dumbest...' was another highlight, that's true.

Well, your smiling, slightly manic mug shot will be lasting testimonial of your time here at TEFL Paris with us!


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