I was born in Pakistan where English is our official language of communication but not our first language. English is taught at a very basic level and if you are able to speak good English, all the doors are easily opened for you. I always found myself very interested in speaking English as any native speaker would do. With my limited access to education, I was not able to go to a good English school where I could learn to be a better English speaker. Then I got a chance to move to Dubai and things changed rapidly for me. I got a chance to people from many native English speaking countries and was able to practice a lot with them. I had access to internet which did wonders for me. I was not only able to do free online courses, but now I was able to find very economical ones, which helped me a lot in learning to speak better English. In short, during my adult life, I found myself hungry for the knowledge of the Language and luckily I was able to come to a point where I am able to teach it to others.
Why do I teach?
I have always found interaction with people amusing. Dubai is a place where people from hundreds of different nationalities live and the more you get to know people from around the globe, the curios you get about their culture and their language etc. I felt the same right from the beginning when I moved to Dubai for the first time about 12 years ago. Dubai had great potential for English teachers because people from all parts of the world would go there for work or to live and English was easier to learn for them compared to Arab which is the National Language of UAE. I decided to teach English part time and got very interested in teaching full time. Which I later did and now I have moved to Mexico where everyone speaks Spanish. I am new here and getting to know the place and the people, so the best way for me to interact and get to know the culture was to start teaching. I meet new people every day and learn so much from them. That is the reason I keep on teaching.
What does teaching mean to me?
Teaching means interaction, passion, knowledge, sharing and most important of all unity for me. I have found myself getting closer to people and knowing more about them. It has helped me learn to become a better person as a whole. I want to keep on doing it and keep on sharing my experiences in life with others in a hope that while I am teaching English as a second language to others, I am learning all the good things possible from others to be a better person which is a continuous process.
What are my short term and long term goals?
My short term goals are to help my students to be able to speak English for which ever purpose they are learning it. Most of my students want to go abroad for higher education or for work and I feel if I can help them speak better English, they'll be able to go to better schools in different parts of the world and get a good education. My long term goal is that since English is the medium of communication between people all over the world, it’s a great feeling that I am helping my students become a part of the family. If we are able to communicate in a common language, we'll be able to understand each other more.
roughout my teaching experience, I have adopted different techniques and learnt a lot of new thing by teaching different types of students. These types can be of different cultural background of their level of English. I could not summarize or look at my teaching style keeping the technical terminology in my mind before taking a course offered my Arizona State University and Coursera which was called “Teach English Now”
I would like to share some details below of what I have learnt in that course about the styles of teaching and which styles match more to my teaching style and which are the ones I like the most.
· Which approaches were the most relatable to me and the way I teach?
I have noticed when I look at my teaching style that I take a bit of all the approaches because for students with different types of backgrounds and level of English, I feel that all the approaches have something to offer when it comes to teaching English. Weather its grammar translation approach from 1880s where in some cases you can use it for the memorization of vocabulary or direct approach which helps with conversation practice and reading aloud helps make the pronunciation of students better. I think about the reading approach from 1930s which helps the students learn to translate and also helps improve their grammar. I go further and I look at Audio lingual approach from the 1940s which I sometimes use for my students of engineering for them to memorize Engineering terminologies in English and it also helps memorize dialogues. I find the Cognitive approach from the 1960s very helpful when I use it to analyze different students and their needs to come up with new techniques and I help my students become better learners by using this technique. One of my most frequently used techniques is the affective humanistic from the 1970s where I calm those students down who are stressed about learning and find it very hard to be a part of the class room. Some students are different than others and sometimes they need a bit of extra care and a friendlier environment where they can feel more at ease and don’t get too stressed about the learning process. I personally like Comprehension approach from the 1980s a lot where I can use the objects in the classroom as references of give the students the real life examples which they can relate to. I have found this approach very affective for a faster learning and learning with more understanding. And finally the communicative approach from the 1980s which I use mostly for the students who want to go abroad for studies and need to pass the language proficiency test like IELTS and TOEFL in order to get admissions in their universities.
As a whole I find something in all the approaches but the Comprehension approach and affective humanistic approaches are closer to my style of teaching.
· Why did these approaches appeal to you more than others?
I like affective humanistic approach more than the others because it suits me more in the kind of environment I teach it. Most of my students are from lower middle class families and from the rural areas who are not very confident in the classroom environment to start with. This approach helps me give them an atmosphere where they can feel at ease and don’t get stressed by all the new terminologies and grammar rules etc. It has helped me a lot in achieving good results for my students.
On the other hand, the Comprehension approach helps the students relate the new words of English which they are learning to the real life examples which they have either in front of them or they would see when they go back home. It helps speed up the learning process and the students don’t even feel the pressure of learning. In contrary, it gives them the feeling of learning something new every day about the things which they can see around them.
· Were there specific ideas or aspects from certain approaches that you liked? What were they and why did you like them?
I really like the role reverse idea of comprehension approach and I use it a lot in my class rooms which I find very effective in order to bring confidence to the students in their learning process.
I also like the “entertainment” aspect of the affective humanistic approach where students don’t even feel the stress of learning or going to school every day. They feel at ease all the time and they learn through entertainment which I find very appealing and use a lot in my classes very effectively.
· Who will you be teaching? Elementary, middle or high school students? University students? Business executives? Etc.
Most of my students are of a very basic or elementary level. I have classes with some business executives who want to learn to speak English in a working environment and mostly formal situations. I live in Mexico and all my students are native Spanish speakers.
I have been using all the teaching techniques very effectively over the past 2 years or so and it has helped me achieve great results for my students. After teaching the “Teach English Now” course, I have learnt so many new things, techniques and approaches which I have already started to apply in my classes and I am finding myself a lot more at ease and the students are happy as well. My students find my classes entertaining and at the same time fruitful for their learning. The progress of learning of my students is very fast and I get good reviews all the time. I also invite them to come up with any negative reviews if they would have any and I try to analyze that with the knowledge which I have gained after taking the “Teach English Now” course.