As a teacher of English, I had a nagging doubt, 'Can one become fluent in a language without living in the native country?' I would constantly ask myself while teaching English to my students.
With experience, I found the answer to this question is : yes it’s possible with the help of the right teacher. Hence, I decided to be the right teacher.
Vietnam and English :
In my country, Vietnam, children are taught English as a regular subject from Grade 1 to Grade 12. Children get exposed to the language for about forty five minutes a day as an academic subject. They also have sometimes additional classes during the week. Not a bad deal!
In reality, it does become little difficult when teachers like me have to teach 45 to 50 students together in a classroom. Individual attention suffers sadly at times. Dearth of resources like libraries also hamper the teaching learning process. Till recently, rote learning of the language prevailed.
As in every other country where English is a second language or a foreign language, English is taught by local Vietnamese teachers only. Some of them are excellent teachers of English but we do have teachers who are not that fluent in the language. This second set of teachers are not able to deliver as is expected. Of late, the communicative approach is supporting the traditional structural method of teaching of English. This is proving to be a great help to the learners. Also, there lies a great imbalance between rural and urban areas in the teaching and learning of English. Here, I would like to add that I live in a small town limited educational development with horizons waiting to be expanded.
Challenges for the teacher:
Students and the community at large, do not seem to understand the benefits of learning the language since they lack the intrinsic motivation to learn leave alone mastering its fluency.
On the path of successful learning:
First of all, I started to create a communicative environment in English – incidentally and consciously with my oldest son. Catch ‘em young! Yes! That is what I did. Along with my mother tongue, I introduced English words and sentences to my “student-at-home” and it worked well. I felt I had accomplished a milestone, however small it may be.
Secondly, I extended this method of immersive learning to my students also. Hitherto, I fared well.
Thirdly, I used technology to teach my lessons and learnt a new definition of /for integration and globalization
Success redefined :In 2019, I stumbled upon the Microsoft Educator Community.
Since 2019, I have learnt how to connect with global educators through Skype and other tools to connect with the teaching fraternity spread across the globe. The sessions via Skype in the Classroom opened up many windows (pun intended) and doors both for me as well as my students.
I could connect seamlessly with the global community with educational experts available at the click of a mouse. Due to their chronological ages not letting them to be exposed to too much of screen time and also due to lack of digital availability, my students have limited online activities. I make up for their loss by participating in the online educational exchanges and conduct activities (that I have been exposed to ) and help them their learning. First hand experience would be wonderful, but for want of nothing , something is better.
I am happy and proud to say that my confidence as a “hands-on learner” has helped my own students to fare better. I have used Skype in classrooms and I find it as an amazing tool for us to explore global learning world and meet great students and educators.
Most of the educators that I have met online are school teachers, but I’m not. Initially, I was worried whether they would accept to connect with me and my students. With a foolish strength, I rolled up my sleeves and decided to enlist help from great global educators. What a surprise! The educators did not reject my request for support and readily created wonderful skype sessions, activities, global projects. These sessions opened up opportunities to listen, learn, play, practice the language without any stress or strain.
I observed that my students became better learners through these visual stimuli and enjoyed the challenges that came along. Some of them even presented themselves to the other participants, courtesy the online intervention.
Children love to see themselves in videos and this in turn led to more fluency, since they recorded vides of themselves, Unknowingly and without pressure, the students devoted more time to practice their speaking skills at home,
It was great joy to see the videos of my students. I have used Flipgrid to record the videos on different topics and they were appreciated by other educators and students in the Flip grid Community.
Gratitude and acknowledgement :
Words can’t express my appreciation for the generous of these Global Educators – at the initial stage of reaching out. – I sincerely thank MIE Experts Vietnam Ms. Jyothy Ramachandran,Ms. Lusine Jhangiryan, Ms. Nadezhda Ivanova, Ms. Larisa Tarasevich, Mr. Daniel Timbal, Ms. Lyudmyla Talashkevych, Ms. Ķåíñťh Ńįśhå, Ms. Gosia Buszman, Ms. Maria Josè Giavedoni, Ms. Corina Sujdea for holding my hand.
I met many other great educators who welcomed me always to be with them during the training courses. Thus, I improved my teaching skills and felt more effective as a teacher.
In spite of the deadly pandemic, I was fortunate to get associated with other teachers and am finding solutions to tide over the problems.
The maxim “The more challenges we overcome, the more successful we become.” is my motivation and here, I am for yet another round of “unlearning and relearning!!