Thursday, July 4, 2013

Full-time ESL teaching

Since I last posted, I've experienced TESOL in a new way. I'm now teaching a full load of courses (16 contact hours per week). I'm teaching my standby class, an intermediate-advanced academic listening and speaking course. We are using Lecture Ready 3, a book focused on the listening skills and strategies needed in the university. I really like this book, although I do supplement vocabulary and pronunciation instruction. Clear Speech is an invaluable tool even in advanced courses. Because I've taught this course before, I'm spending less time brainstorming what to teach, and spending more time figuring out how to best teach it. I'm developing our vocabulary logs from last semester into a multi-modal learning tool that includes podcasts. A colleague and I hope to present this idea at TESOL 2014 in Portland. Fingers crossed.

The other half of my teaching is going to a class I've never taught. A very low-level listening and speaking course. My two students are false beginners, and it's been a real challenge for me to figure out how to approach the needs of this very small group. Luckily, I'm using Clear Speech and Top Notch (Fundamental Level), which has an incredible library of supplementary activities and ready-made worksheets. Once I figured out where to find everything that comes with this series, I found that I was able to plan lessons much more easily.

Full-time ESL teaching is my dream job, but it has many challenges. Time management is crucial when teaching, meetings and other teaching obligations compete for your 40-hour workweek. I'm trying to break the cycle of grad school weekends and take a breather so that I can return to the classroom on Monday refreshed and energized. I know that teaching is not necessarily a 9-5 job, much less limited to the 40 hour contract, yet, I do wonder how successful teachers maintain a work-life balance and still contribute to the field in ways besides teaching.

I'm enjoying the full-time challenges, and looking forward to learning more about the variety of teaching experiences available to ESL teachers.