Monday, January 2, 2017

I love going through old writings

And across something I did very early in the MA program -- and my thoughts haven't changed much -- still one of the best decisions of my life.

Background Information & Needs Analysis
1.      What is your name?  Do you have a different name that you would prefer to be called in class? 
My name is Jennifer Rose. Most people call me Jenn in class and at work.
2.      Where are you in your M.A. program (e.g., first semester, second semester, etc.)?

This is my first semester in the M.A. program at GSU. Approaches will be my second class, after Technology and Language Teaching during Maymester.

3.      Why did you decide to pursue an M.A. in Applied Linguistics/TESOL?

There are a number of reasons – mainly – the happiest I’ve been in life have been teaching in and ESL setting either abroad or here in Atlanta. I love meeting new people and learning about new places and cultures. I love learning languages. I love writing and teaching writing. The TESOL field, as I discovered a few years ago, allows me to combine my passion for all of this and wrap it up into one NEAT career. I also know that teaching abroad (again) is a goal of mine and I want to teach at the college level, and this seemed like a really great opportunity and way to do that!
4.         How much EFL teaching experience do you have?  And, in what contexts?
I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and spent the first year of my career teaching first grade in the city of Marietta. All of my students were English Language Learners and I had to “learn on the job” how to best fit their needs. I really liked that experience and decided to go abroad for my next year of teaching and spent a year teaching in Seoul, South Korea – Kindergarten during the day and grades 1-6 in the evening. My students ranged in ability from very beginner (I even had a class of three year olds for a while – loved it!) to very advanced and prepping for High School placement tests in the Korean government high schools. I was the only native teacher in the classroom and I had one Korean teacher aide with me to help with behavior and requests I didn’t understand. I really enjoyed the progress my students made. Some of my younger students came in with NO English language and I was having small conversations with them about favorite food, weekend plans, etc. by the end of my year. I really enjoy watching the process of language learning unfold before student’s ears. Other experiences – I was an AmeriCorps tutor for a fourth and fifth grade classroom in Minneapolis for a few years and a classroom assistant for a few years after that – of my students there were language learning and my role was to help bring students up to grade level (in one year – ha!) in reading and language arts. I’ve also taught at CCB academy for F2 visa holders – adults with advanced language looking to take TOEFL classes and get into universities in this country but aren’t quite confident in their skills to do so. I did this for three months. I have graduate coursework in Speech and Language Pathology and done functional communication training with children with Autism, but realized quickly that this was not really what I was meant to be doing.  Currently, I teach ESL to adults (which I didn’t think I’d like but totally love!) at Victory World Church in Norcross. My students are beginning level but have been living in the country for 10 years or more so their receptive language is quite good, and my goal currently is to bring their confidence up to a point where they are able to communicate and achieve daily routines, tasks of living, etc. I’ve been doing this job for about two years now. So, that was long…I think I’ve always put myself in language learning context of some form or another – very familiar with the school system – I’m a substitute teacher with Fulton County during the school year and always pick up jobs for the ESL teachers in the area, hoping to work my way in when I finish my degree. J (Total: about 6 years ESL teaching experience.)
5.         How much ESL teaching experience do you have?  And, in what contexts?
Is there a difference between ESL and EFL? I have never made that distinction – maybe we will cover this in class. My thoughts were ESL = English as a Second Language and EFL = English as a Foreign Language but I never saw a difference between the two. My experience then here would have to be the same as the question above. J
6.         What do you hope to gain from the M.A. program?  List 2-5 specific types of knowledge or skills.
            a. I really wish to hone my assessment and decision making skills. I want to learn more about the process of identifying student strengths and weaknesses and deciding which curriculum/methods/approaches to use that would best benefit that particular student. I have some of this….maybe confidence is what is needed here.
            b. Resources and Networking: As mentioned before, I have a lot of experience working with young children and youth, but not a lot of experience working with adolescents and adults. I really wish to network with other professionals in the field and gain as many resources for teaching as possible. This to me, is the major difference between an undergrad and a graduate program of study. I am a person that took a few years (more than a few) off between undergraduate work and graduate work. I have done many jobs and see myself as a professional, but really just want to hone my skills and perfect my craft and I see this program as a good means to doing that.

7.         What do you consider to be your greatest strengths as an EFL/ESL teacher?
My students tell me it’s my pronunciation and voice. I have a really clear and slow speaking voice in the classroom and in my evaluations from students I always get feedback like “teacher is friendly and patient.” I make it my goal to connect with each and every student that comes into my classroom. Each student that leaves my class feels like they teach me more than I teach them. I feel like I am really good at building a sense of community into the language classroom.
8.         What do you consider to be your greatest challenges as an EFL/ESL teacher?
            Grammar and vocabulary, and integrating the two so that students don’t get intimidated. I would like to get to the point where I can cite a grammar rule off the top of my head so that students understand it, because I know ESL students LOVE rules. Currently this is my point of struggle. I have always had a knack for English grammar as a native speaker and never understood why we do or say what we do or say. I would also like to learn more about Total Physical Response and ways to carry that out. I am usually pretty good with gestures in the beginning classroom but don’t use any formal means for instruction, I just mime away until students understand what it is I’m trying to communicate. There has to be a better way!
7.         What do you consider to be your greatest strengths as an M.A. TESOL student?
I’m a pretty dedicated student and very detail oriented. I love reading journal articles about the latest best practices! I meet deadlines before the deadline. J I am very flexible and usually say yes to just about anything thrown my way!
8.         What do you consider to be your greatest challenges as an M.A. TESOL student?
Citations in APA format! J I’ve always done MLA or AP before now. It’s a learning process. It’s very tedious but I love it.
9.         What do I need to know about you specifically that might make me more effective in my interactions with you?

            If we’re having a conversation, I will usually be responsive but have 30 ideas later on in the evening that I thought I should have communicated better – oh the joy of being a language teacher! I love e-mail! If you ever need to tell me something or let me know about something I did in class – don’t hesitate to e-mail me. I present myself as extraverted – years of training as a teacher I suppose – but this drains me and will ponder the thoughts overnight and get back to you 24 hours later.