Teaching English to Absolute Beginners

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest challenges that English teachers will face in their careers is being asked to teach students who have zero English knowledge or ability. In an ideal world, these students would be placed into classes with teachers who are bilingual and can use the students 1st language to help in acquiring the 2nd language...the problem though, is this isn't an ideal world, and many teachers, who can only speak English, are regularly asked to teach students who cannot speak a word of English.

So where should you begin? What are the best approaches to teaching absolute beginners? What part of the language should you focus on first? How do you overcome the huge language barrier that separates your from your students? In this blog entry, I want to provide some popular strategies that English teachers will use in these situations, and also give you some of my own personal insight into teaching beginner English language learners.

Change your mindset
First and foremost, t…

Tips for saving money while teaching abroad

Teaching English in a foreign country 'can' be a great way to save money or to pay off debts. A lot of the overseas teaching positions offer a decent salary, free airfare, free or subsidized accommodations, free medical insurance, and many other employment perks that can reduce your expenses while living abroad. So everyone who teaches English must save money or pay off debts while abroad, right?

Wrong...Saving money abroad, like saving money at home takes discipline and sacrifice. Although it seems like expenses are very low in many teaching positions, that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of things that you can spend (or waste) your money on. Likewise, there are some expenses that come along with living abroad that have to be kept up with to prevent new debts.

In this blog entry, I just want to provide some simple, easy-to follow tips for saving money while teaching English in a foreign country. By following some of these tips I was able to pay off half of my stud…

Myths about Teaching English in China

Recently, through my work, I have been in contact with many institutions in China that are desperately seeking English teachers to work in their schools. These opportunities range from teaching children all the way up to working in universities. At the same time, I know there are many teachers in Canada and the US out there who are looking for jobs abroad; so I couldn't figure out why there is this disconnect between these schools and the abundance of teachers looking for work. So, I decided I'd look deeper into why potential English teachers are not going to China, and these are the assumptions that I have found that are keeping people from going to China:

1. China is too polluted
2. China is not safe
3. Schools will rip you off
4. The pay is too low
5 . There are too many people in China

While there is definitely some validity to some of these assumptions, there is a lot of wrong with them as well. In this blog, I want to examine some of these myths, with the hopes of convincing…

Fantastic Professional Development Opportunity at the University of Victoria this summer

Fantastic professional development opportunity this summer! There are still spaces available in this specialized certificate program for international English teachers. Contact for details :) Teaching English as a Foreign Language at UVic @Continuing Studies at UVic 

Homework and Its Importance

When I was a student I hated homework, and then when I first became a teacher I hated giving homework to my students. To be honest, I guess never really thought of all the benefits that students get from regularly completing homework. Instead, I was like a lot of rookie teachers; just trying to be liked by my students, instead of thinking about what is actually best for them. Whether you are teaching English or any subject, homework is a key part of the learning process. On top of this, homework also teaches students additional lessons that contribute to their success later in life. Below is a list of some of the reasons that I think giving students homework is so important:

1. First of all, homework helps review and reinforce the new material that students are currently learning in class. There is a reason that the expression "practice makes perfect" has been around so long, and that is because it's true. Especially if you are trying to learn a new language, practice i…

Will you face discrimination as an ethnic minority while teaching abroad?

For a while now, I've been considering writing a blog entry on the topic of discrimination that English teachers sometimes face when teaching abroad (specifically in Asia). I guess I haven't written this entry yet because of the fact that I didn't really experience any harsh discrimination while teaching abroad. Don't get me wrong, I definitely stood out like a sore thumb in many situations, and I have often been treated as a novelty, but the level of discrimination that I faced certainly was traumatic. In fact, at times being an ethnic minority had it's benefits as people would go out of their way to help me, offer free food, put me at the front of a line, etc. What you should know about me though (if you hadn't seen my blog picture) is that I am a white male, with blue eyes and brown hair...pretty much the stereotypical ESL teacher in many Asian people's minds. Unfortunately during my time in Korea, I had friends who represented different ethnicities (ev…