First TEFL job in Greece

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First TEFL job in Greece

Unread postby sarahmcn » 28 Oct 2010, 22:33

Hi,

I took up my first TEFL job in Greece a month ago having completed a 100 hour online/weekend course through TEFL England. I have no previous teaching experience and am working in a private school to students aged between 9 and 30. There is one other teacher who owns and runs the school. My main problem is that I can't use any of the interactive learning tips I picked up on my course as I have been told never to let the students work in pairs or groups as they will make too much noise.I have also been reproached for using warmer activities as these are too fun and not relevant. As a result, the majority of my lessons with 13-15 year olds involve the students sitting alone at a desk and orally correcting homework exercises one by one and some preparation for a written task which is what they do in their other lessons. This is not interesting for me or for the students and is causing problems with discipline and students pushing to see what they can get away with. With the older students (15 to 30) who are studying for proficiency in English I have managed to do some discussions on different topics (capital punishment, recycling, school uniforms and road safety) but it is hard to engage the whole group. I also have to do a mock oral exam with them once a week which is repetitive and only engages 2 students out of the class at any time. I have problems with some of the students speaking Greek amongst themselves, generally not paying attention or claiming that the topic is boring and that they know everything already. However, when I collect their homework they fail to structure their writing correctly, answer the question or use the vocabulary I have provided them with. Is this a normal experience for a first time teacher? What can I do to make the tedious activites more interesting and to maintain discipline? Is it too late to be strict with the students after starting softly? I would be grateful for any advice you can offer me as I want to get the most out of my job here!

Sarah
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Re: first TEFL job in Greece

Unread postby Lucy » 30 Oct 2010, 18:42

Dear Sarah,

I fully sympathise with you. I think this is a situation that any teacher, experienced or not, would find difficult. I’m sorry that you are having such a bad experience in your first job. You have quite a lot of questions here, so I will answer them in separate posts.

First of all, in answer to question: Is this a normal experience for a first time teacher? I would say that this is certainly not the best way for students to learn. I’ve never worked in Greece but I have heard many similar stories about private schools that cater to teenagers and other people preparing for Cambridge exams. These cram schools just focus on giving the students exam practice. I’m afraid that your first experience is not optimal. As for students being unable to use the vocabulary you taught correctly, that is pretty normal. Students need to revise, review and use language repeatedly before they are able to use it correctly in free practice.

As for discipline or classroom management, it is never too late to start. True, it’s better to start out with clear classroom rules, but it is not too late to introduce them now. You can look through the helpdesk and other forums for ideas on this topic. You can take a look at this post for ideas on encouraging students to use English:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=13

As for the teaching methods, I’m afraid to say that you don’t really have much choice at the moment. Your employer has decided how the classes will be conducted and while you are working for her, you have to respect her wishes. This doesn’t mean she is right, or that you have to agree, but you may have problems with her if you don’t follow what she says. After you have spent more time in her school, when she knows you better and you have more experience, you’ll be able to suggest other ways of working.

I'll answer your other questions in another post.

Lucy
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Re: First TEFL job in Greece

Unread postby Lucy » 01 Nov 2010, 18:18

Dear Sarah,

I also wanted to reply to your comment: I have also been reproached for using warmer activities as these are too fun and not relevant.

I can see that this is difficult; you have obviously put effort into studying and would now like to put into practice what you have learnt. As I said in my previous post, you have to at least show willing to do what your boss has requested. You’ll have to think through your course or re-read your notes to find activities that you can adapt to suit her favourite teaching style. Here are links to some posts that will give you some ideas:

Engaging the learner:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=246

Games and revision with vocabulary:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=178

Whole class speaking activities at a low level:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=236

Best,

Lucy
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