Teaching English as a foreign language

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.

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That first TEFL class

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So, someone asked me what I thought about one of the essay questions. I thought I should share my ideas with you all. Hopefully, it gets you thinking a bit more and helps you along.

….I would say beforehand go into the school and meet everyone to show them you are willing to learn more about the school and to show that you are friendly. This may be a good chance to find out what books are being used (you could actually take the books home then) and what is the curriculum; also the ages of students, their backgrounds and their levels. I worked for a school that had 15 levels from basic to advanced, so it is good to know what you will be teaching. I would also see what hours I am working and how long I have the students for. In a high school you may have them for a whole term but in a language school only 30 hours (4 – 6 weeks).

I think you should mention that you would set up a few observations beforehand (and in those first few weeks). With these observations, you may actually be observing the class(es) you will be teaching, the students will be glad to say hello, this may be beneficial when you have that first class. This could be good as you get to see the teachers in action and how they use the classroom (classroom management). It would also be good to get a mentor. He or she could help you with the school’s teaching approach and also observe you in those first classes just to help you along. I would also go out for a drink with the teachers beforehand or have lunch together. They may even have a teacher’s room where they can show you all their available materials and of course your desk.

There are many private schools out there where there are 15 to 20 in a class (high schools I had 60).  Above all, this kind of work has a very communicative approach because more than likely the students learn English but not with a native speaker. They usually have to sit and listen. Think about pair work, group work, students facing the board and being able to come up and write at any time. Your classes need to be active and student centred because in many ways you are the facilitator.

Good luck!!