A couple of months ago, I wrote about how important I believe it is for language teachers to periodically have their own language classes. That way we can experience what it feels like to be a student (you can read the benefits as I see it here). With that in mind, I had my first Brazilian Portuguese class yesterday. This was my first language class as an English teacher, and I found that it was as an illuminating experience as I had hoped it would be. I also realised, however, that this may not entirely be a good thing.
Instinctively I found myself analysing the teacher and his teaching techniques. In my head I was making a list of plus points and negatives, which I’ve summarised here -
Things I liked:
- Lovely class room manner
- Good at building student teacher rapport
- Obviously passionate about his subject
- Flexible and willing to deal with student queries.
- Vocabulary often presented in chunks
- Mostly speaks target language
- Not scared of tangents
- Well planned
Things to work on:
- Too much vocabulary
- Writes everything on the board
- Far too much teacher talk time
- Little interaction between students
- My advice: if you can’t draw, don’t draw.
- Tangents became too far removed from original vocabulary.
- I was late, and he stopped the class to talk to me. He should have just acknowledged me and spoken to me later.
- Grammar based, rather than theme based.
- Far too much homework (I’m not being lazy, honest!)
- Didn’t attempt to engage us with the subject.
- Lots of input, but no output activity in sight.
Overall I enjoyed the experience, and I’ll be going back. It was a very good experience as a teacher, I’ll learn a lot from being there because it offers the opportunities for me to reflect that I enjoy. However, it’s not going to help me improve my Portuguese, which is the main reason to be there of course. I don’t want to spend valuable time analysing the class when I should be getting on with learning the language.
At least as a teacher I know how to deal with the issues I confront and make the most of the opportunities the classes give me. That’s one advantage I suppose.