English language

A Teacher: The fine art of listening

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I would like to reflect on the attitude of teachers as listeners with regard to the classroom. It has made me think more about the person (teacher) I am. When I think about how I am in the class it makes me reflect on the attitude I should have towards students who are trying to speak in class, thus the crux of this is, am I a good listener and reciprocator?

I think that when people speak ideas begin to grow. These ideas growing within us is thinking of the students in the class with something to say and the teacher letting them speak but encouraging those students to expand on their answers. Thus, the teacher is the listener to the students expanding their ideas and their second language. The proposition is, how do we listen to others? I think people listen, the fact is sometimes this may not be attentive. Referring to a classroom setting, I think there could be a moment where the teacher doesn’t listen to the students as attentively as one should. This doesn’t mean the teacher is being rude; he or she might have their mind on completing the lesson or the fact that the student has answered the question, so the teacher can move on. I think here is where you should take a step back to think about your attitude.  I think that when you have these moments in the class where the students have a chance to speak you can expand on those junctures because you are a courteous listener who provokes the students to speak more.

It could be said that there are lecturers (teachers) out there that love the sound of their voice and do stifle people’s attitudes that stop them talking. They may be brilliant performers, but by not giving the students a chance to talk, they do not let all involved express their thoughts and expand. I think that as a teacher one could get confused that they are doing a great job teaching, but why are the students not talking? As such the teacher never realizes that it could be them (the teachers) that are the problem. I think that this creative spark from the students has got to be given time, and some teachers may not give time to let this creativity start working. Students can be given too much work that they are not sure where to start. I think with clear and modeled instruction which specific objectives the students know what to do, they then have focus, thus they know what to speak about to which the teacher can listen with captivated attention.

The formulation of ideas has to be a task that most students find difficult to complete especially with their limited knowledge of second language vocabulary as well as those that do have a wider knowledge, for them fluently remembering all this vocabulary is still a problem. For myself, I have had times when I know the word in a foreign language, but I just forget it only to find out later that, of course, I knew it. This goes along with sentences as well. I make this point because a student talking, although their language may limited at first, when they begin to think, speak and use their English language they can show their true self. For example, I had a situation in my class where a woman student was translating everything that I said. It was, I thought, stopping the students in the class from actually understanding me. Anyway, one break-time another female student wanted to tell me she was leaving after break for some reason. As the student who wanted to leave was trying to tell me her problem this “translator” woman came over, translated and tried to tell me the student’s problem. As diplomatic as I could, I explained to her that this was not her problem, and I wanted this student to tell me herself. Being a forceful woman as she was she didn’t really listen, so as she was hearing the student having problems she again tried to help. Again, I said I wanted to hear the student. Well, the student took about five minutes to tell me her problem and after trying real hard and me being an active listener, she got her point over. I think by me listening and understanding that she wasn’t proficient in English, and that I would have to take my time to let this student build up confidence to tell me made for a more relaxed situation. Thus, she was able to speak English, and her vocabulary was enough for me to understand. I felt good because some students are not listened to because at that first moment they don’t have the vocabulary or are a little nervous, but they can actually formulate what they want to say given time.

Finally, it just makes me think what relationship you have with each student. Hopefully, by writing this, it does make me think that we should be more attentive that leads to expansive language from the students.

(847 Words)


The Teaching of Melody

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I feel aspects of melody in language are important to me in teaching English, as this is one of the issues that have been salient in teaching. By melody, I mean the fluency of your speech highlighting that transformation of the quality of the teacher’s voice adding grace to the student’s self-expression, thus helping them to convey meaning on a higher plane. This upholds a belief of mine because I feel as though making your voice clear and giving your voice that purposeful sound and intonation makes your expressions interesting to listen to. I think that these clear utterances add to your lesson and bring the students more in touch with you.

For the students, I think melody is one of the hardest aspects to grasp that incorporates intonation, stress, and rhythm. As a teacher, you and the students have to be aware that the improvement of their  expressions is the result of endeavored attempts at a likeness to natural English. I relate to this because in one post lesson reflection I recognised that I was modeling, and a model for, the English language for the students. Now, if that melody is lost, as I reflected upon, trying to give clear instructions slowly and with unconnected speech, the students will end up speaking the same slow way which is not the melody of English. It is not only the fact of having a natural voice in class, but also that melody can be achieved by incorporating into one’s teaching precise techniques designed to facilitate learning of melody of the target language creatively.

There are implications for the students, which is what the main point of this reflective writing, and that is the students come to the teacher already being equipped with the capacity to work on themselves. You could say they are like a sponge soaking up all that you say and if you are the teacher they will follow you. This is where your teaching direction is so important and that is to teach them the correct and normal melody of speech. They will change their utterance to your melody because you are teaching them.

To conclude with something I have learned from this reflection is that you are an advert for the promotion of English language. Learners are looking at you to better their language and this means using the right tone, stress, intonation and rhythm. This melody your students will be using in the outside world, and you as the teacher certainly wouldn’t like your students to be misunderstood and frowned upon.

(425 Words)