However, professional development is not high on Clara’s school’s list of priorities, oh sure, she has done the fire safety training and knows how to use the interactive white board. However, she has not practised her English outside of the classroom for over two years now.
Clara often questions whether she is using the right word in English, so she has begun using Italian more and more in her lessons. To be fair, it is easier and much faster, as the students immediately understand what she has asked them to do and nothing needs translating. However, her students are becoming more and more reluctant to speak English out loud.
Clara also regularly has an internal dialogue with herself hours after class, wondering if that really was the right pronunciation she gave her students, perhaps she should just use the audio files from now on. And sometimes Clara wishes her student really had not asked THAT question, as she is not sure she knows the answer, so she tends to stick to the book.
Basically, Clara is questioning whether her English is good enough to be an English teacher. And if her English is not good enough, how will she ever become the teacher who is remembered for the right reasons? Come to think of it, what are the right reasons to be remembered?
Am I good enough?
I know if I tried to teach Italian, I would almost certainly worry about the holes in my knowledge, and especially my soft British ‘r’. Even when I am speaking with an Italian I still regularly feel the need to apologise for my non-rhotic 'r', although I am quite sure they do not really care and can still understand what I am saying.
I also worked in many temporary positions with a fixed-term contract, where my professional development definitely was not a priority – why should the school invest in me, when I would not be there the following year? For a long time this made me feel like I wasn't good enough and made me doubt myself.
However, having studied many languages, including Italian, as well as English pronunciation, and having taught English since 2010, I have the perfect insight as to the issues faced by Italian speakers of English, I can help Clara identify the differences between Italian and English pronunciation, in order to help her overcome her doubts, build her confidence and speak clearly, without hesitation and with a smile. This small change and the regular conversations in English about English, will translate to higher self-esteem in the classroom. I am sure you are aware of how perceptive your students are: when she comes in with more positive energy, Clara's students will pick up on it and will respond in kind.
There are three simple steps to working with Clara:
- First we go back to the basics and build up her confidence that she does have the knowledge she needs to help her learners become independent English speakers.
- We then look at how we can encourage our students to take an active part in class, so that they develop their own strategies to become lifelong learners.
- Finally we work together to give Clara the tools to be the teacher that everyone looks up to.
If any of this strikes a chord with you, book a call with me here. I would love to discuss where you are right now and what steps you could take to move forwards with your English language journey.
“The best gift you can give to yourself is to invest in yourself.”― Pooja Agnihotri
Taking your professional development into your own hands and investing in yourself, is a great way to start feeling more confident. This tiny action leads to using more English, rather than your mother tongue in the classroom. Once you see that your students are improving, this will encourage you to try new tools and techniques in the classroom, which will increase your job satisfaction. Feeling better in your job, will shine out of you, creating a person whom your colleagues look up to and admire. It will also lead to better relationships with your family and friends outside of work, when you are talking positively about your job and the impact you are having.
I can understand that you might not feel ready to take that step yet, but think about what happens if you do not change anything. You will continue getting the same results you get now, your students will continue to get the same results, which means you are not inspired by your job. In fact, many days you are fed up because your students do not listen, do not learn and you often lose you temper. Your relationships with your colleagues and those outside of work become more distant, as your negativity pushes people away. You end up feeling lost and alone, you have not just let your students down, but you have let yourself down.
So, are you ready to transform from a self-conscious teacher, who is not sure that she is doing the right things for her students to a calm, confident teacher who students go up to years after they finish school to thank her for her help?
If you are ready to take that next step towards being a teacher who is remembered for all the right reasons, book a call with me here. Alternatively, you can check out this pdf, to see how you might move forwards with your pronunciation.