Becoming a teacher
How to start a teaching career - for teachers; How to start learning a language - for students; Personal experience - Anastasia Kryukova.
HOW TO START A TEACHING CAREER
Being a teacher of a foreign language is a wonderful and rewarding career - it is full of creative challenges, new people and their perspectives, broad opportunities for growing as a professional and as a person, and there is no surprise that so many people opt for this path. So, here are some tips to those who find themselves willing to start a career in teaching foreign language - where to start and what to focus on, all based on our own experience.
The first thing to think about is getting the right qualifications. You can start with a degree, but make sure it is relating to Teaching. There are degrees in Philology and Languages in general, and although they are related to the language, being a teacher takes more than just speaking the language. If you find yourself getting or already having one of those degrees you might want to consider getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. We already talked about various types of such certificates here - An Ultimate Breakdown of TEFL Certificates.
Having no experience will make it a bit harder to land a job, but do not fear, you have to put yourself out in the world. Look out for listings, ads and job vacancies - schools are always searching for teachers. Getting a job at a school is also more beneficial to a starting teacher, because you will have the experience of your more seasoned colleagues at your disposal, you will have the advantage of attending teachers’ meetings and clear guidelines to what lessons should be like. Getting your own private students is also a great idea, for you will be able to test different approaches and hone your skills on them.
If interviews scare you, you can read our guide on how to ace them and how to write a perfect CV here.
In the first year of your teaching career you will have a lot of questions and uncertainties. If you haven’t yet gotten your degree or a CELTA certificate, but are already taking first steps as a teacher, there are still many things you can do to educate yourself. First of all, never underestimate a Teacher’s Book. They are written by the brightest minds the publishing houses can hire, and contain very detailed information on how the lesson should be handled. There are often task variations, lead-ins and warm-ups, extra questions and exercises to get your students to practise more. Secondly, there are a lot of books for teachers on topics ranging from essential knowledge to newest approaches. Here is our rundown of the ones we like most - Books Every English Teacher Should Read.
One more thing that you should never neglect is networking. Join teaching communities on social networking sites, read articles and follow newsletters (just like ours!), read and post comments, ask questions, participate in conferences - in short, engage and inquire. You will learn a lot this way, and what’s more, you may spot more opportunities for interesting projects, job offers and For example, you can join our Telegram chat where teachers share ready-made Amazy lessons, ask questions and share resources and ideas.
By the way, using materials made by other teachers, you will see how they plan their lessons and organise different stages. Pay attention to how the information is presented, how the students train and consolidate it.
Take a look at these lessons found in the Community section on Amazy - created by teachers and shared with you completely out of charge:
1) Daily Exercises, A1 — perfect for daily practice and revision, but could also be used for an introductory lesson, because it features many questions.
2) My day, A1 — a great lesson to discuss daily routine!
3) Is "The Mandalorian" a new western?, B2 — a lesson based on a TV series The Mandalorian (a Star Wars Universe spin-off) that has found place in the hearts of many fans and others alike.
4) Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44 billion, B1 — a current affairs lesson designed by Business English trainer.
What advice would you give to a new teacher? Do you remember your first steps in the field? Share your experiences and tips in the comments!
How to learn a new language: 7 secrets from TED Translators
By Krystian Aparta
They say that children learn languages the best. But that doesn’t mean that adults should give up. We asked some of the polyglots in TED’s Open Translation Project to share their secrets to mastering a foreign language. Their best strategies distill into seven basic principles:
Get real. Decide on a simple, attainable goal to start with so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. German translator Judith Matz suggests: “Pick up 50 words of a language and start using them on people — and then slowly start picking up grammar.”
Make language-learning a lifestyle change. Elisabeth Buffard, who in her 27 years of teaching English has always seen consistency as what separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick or madly in love.
Play house with the language. The more you invite a foreign language into your daily life, the more your brain will consider it something useful and worth caring about. “Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language,” says Russian translator Olga Dmitrochenkova. Label every object in your house in this language, read kids’ books written in it, watch subtitled TED and TEDx talks, or live-narrate parts of your day to an imaginary foreign friend.
Let technology help you out. Dmitrochenkova has a great idea: “A funny thing like resetting the language on your phone can help you learn new words right away,” she says. Ditto for changing the language on your browser. Or you can seek out more structured learning opportunities online. Dutch translator Els De Keyser recommends Duolinguo for its gamified approach to grammar, and Anki for memorizing vocabulary with its “intelligent” flashcards.
Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences. To Spanish translator Sebastián Betti, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, attending air shows, enjoying cowboy poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, he thinks of fun things that he wanted to do anyway, and makes them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of our translators shared this advice. Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching undubbed versions of her favorite movies, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenković suddenly realized he could speak English in fifth grade, after years of watching the Cartoon Network without subtitles. So the next time you need a vegan carrot cake recipe, find one in the language you’re trying to learn.
Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Or search for foreign penpals or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages.
Do not worry about making mistakes. One of the most common barriers to conversing in a new language is the fear of making mistakes. But native speakers are like doting parents: any attempt from you to communicate in their language is objective proof that you are a gifted genius. They’ll appreciate your effort and even help you. Nervous about holding a conversation with a peer? Try testing your language skills with someone a little younger. “I was stoked when I was chatting with an Italian toddler and realized we had the same level of Italian,” recalls German translator Judith Matz. And be patient. The more you speak, the closer you’ll get to the elusive ideal of “native-like fluency.” And to talking to people your own age.
How did you start learning a language? What motivated you? What steps did you take?
Hi, my name is Anastasia and I’ve been teaching for only half a year. I’m studying in my local state university to become a French and English languages teacher. I mostly tutor young kids aged 4-12, but I’m hoping for a wider age range someday. I work in a studio, where I get all the help I need from a wonderful mentor, but being a baby teacher is not easy in the slightest.
How did you decide to become a teacher? What were your first lessons like compared to now? What are your plans for the future career-wise?
I did not really know what to do with my life after a gap year I had taken, hoping to find my true passion. So, I decided to think about what I liked doing the most at school and the first thing that came to my mind was language learning. Studying it was not only the main goal of our program, but also a way to see outside the small world revolving around me, to see different perspectives on life. That’s what I wanted to become: someone who guides people to this completely different understanding of the world. My sister, as an example of a teacher who became not only a tutor but a life mentor for her students, also greatly influenced my decision to start a teaching career.
However, turning my plans into reality so soon was not an intentional decision. I was working in food service at the time and was looking for a change of career, but I felt like I was not ready to teach and be completely on my own. I felt like I needed help from a professional, a supervisor. So, looking through Instagram feed one day I saw an ad from a language learning center, offering a job to young professionals starting out in the field. After building up some courage, I sent them my small CV, passed a couple level tests and was ready to start my practice.
The thing you need to know about pedagogical program at my Uni is that it is extremely outdated and does not provide students with enough up-to-date information. So, I walked into my first class almost completely blind, with a vague plan and a teacher’s book as my guide. I did not know how to build a lesson appropriately, how to give instructions in English and manage the flow, while maintaining some sort of discipline. I was frozen in shock inside, and so were the kids. It was a mess. But so is anything you do for the first time, isn’t it? I knew it at the time, and I moved on. I started reading literature, attending seminars and asking my boss and my sister any stupid question I had. After six months of teaching, I can say I know at least something about it.
So, what are the most important things I’ve learned?
- Use the teacher's book! Especially as a novice teacher, you are probably not a methodologist, so follow the guidance of more experienced people, who wrote the books you use. With time, you will start to understand the purpose of different exercises and why they are positioned in a certain sequence. Teacher’s books are your best friends for a long time;
- Don't only read, but watch too. Attend your colleagues` lessons and ask them to watch yours and give feedback to each other;
- Learn to be a conductor, directing the rhythm of the lesson. All the instruments should be in the hands of your students, they are the spotlight if the “concert”, who you gently guide through the symphony.
I’ve been working with young learners mostly, but I have a couple teenage students. Those are two completely different things. In the future, I hope to work with teens or grownups more, and meet more professionals in the field.
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