When any new language is introduced, it is essential for the teacher to model that language. Of course, this is harder in your second tongue, but by no means an impossible feat. Modeling means only using the target language that you have pre-decided upon prior to the class. This is why planning is so crucial. Naturally, most people would not always use the same language as repetition is boring. Unless you happen to be running an ESL classroom.
Half way through the lesson, our trainee was looking fraught as he gave the students a 10 minute break. In a quick half-time coaching session, it was decided that I should take over and re-do the lesson from the beginning as it was intended. I quickly gathered an armful of leaves, straw, coconut husks and other village paraphernalia for the engage modeling section of the remaining hour of class.
As I instructed, monitored and facilitated some wonderful language learning I felt a sense of calm. This was how ESL teaching was supposed to be. The students had been enthralled by my outside realia and were now using my throughly thought-out scaffolding to climb to freedom and create their own role-plays. Monitoring is crucial to the success of students, and our protege had a bad habit of getting far too close to the students and becoming ‘one of the gang.’ In this way, he was ignoring the other students by body blocking them out of the discussion with any given table. I move quickly from table to table with a slight incline of my head unless a student asks a specific question, and even then I will stand to the side making sure that the rest of the class is still visible to me.
By following my plan, my lesson was a success in a way that his simply was not. I have said it before; leading by example really is the best way to instruct the teachers here. They are so unaccustomed to this way of teaching and learning that they simply can’t fathom how to construct and run a lesson even when the planning is done for them. Additionally, as our young teacher mentioned, the lessons do not ‘feel’ like him yet because I planned them and they are in my style of teaching. I hope that soon we can progress to planning together before he eventually takes over and is fully in control of his own lessons. Then he can take over my role as teacher trainer and I will be superfluous to the daily running of the classroom!
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer