Anyone who has taught children knows that it can be both a joy and a burden at the same time. Young learners are at an important stage of mental development where learning tends to come naturally and easily. However, they can also be rowdy and uninterested in learning anything. When adults sign up for English lessons, it’s usually because they have a strong incentive to do so, either for personal or professional reasons. Children, though, might have no interest in being in your classroom at all. Try as you might, there’s simply nothing even the best teacher can do to get children to learn if they steadfastly refuse to.
In this blog post I will try to explain why teachers (for the specific case of my research: EFL teachers) need to develop their skills in using technology in a pedagogically sound way. I will start with providing information on the technological changes that we have experienced in the last few decades and how it has affected education systems. I will then describe the technology pedagogy and content knowledge (TPACK) theory and why teachers – in my opinion – should aim to develop their TPACK knowledge. I will conclude my blog by inviting fellow EFL teachers to participate in the “EFL- TPACK” survey that has been developed for EFL teachers.
About 2400 years ago Democritus stated, “The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself”. This statement emphasises the general principle of life, which is “change”. We live in a world in which everything is changing constantly. For example, although its use was restricted to the British Isles in the sixteenth century, English is now (in the twenty-first century) commonly described as a lingua franca and used all over the world. Similar to the status of English, technology has recently become an indispensable part of our lives. From banking to health, all sectors including education have been affected by technology and the change it has brought. In educational settings, the change started with creating adequate technology infrastructure in learning environments and governments are still working on providing technology (i.e. computers) in every classroom.
Providing classrooms with technology, however, would not be enough in order to create an effective teaching environment. The consumers of technology – in the case of education that would be teachers and students – would need certain skills to be able to make use of these new tools in the teaching/ learning process. In fact, teachers would need to gain not only the basic skills to use the newly introduced technology but also the knowledge about how to use them for teaching more effectively (Harasim, 2012; Hubbard & Levy, 2006). Technology should not be just an add-on to teachers’ current practices because a successful integration requires not only basic skills but also a change in the pedagogy practised by teachers.
By Eckhard Pecher (Self-photographed) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5) or CC-BY-2.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
So you’ve got yourself a TEFL job in Hong Kong!
Firstly, well done! Secondly, we’re INSANELY jealous and thirdly we thought we’d share with you 9 things you’ll discover about living in Hong Kong!
1) It’s Cantonese!
Brushed up on your Mandarin all ready for your new adventure in Hong Kong? Well you better get back to night school as the most commonly spoken language in Hong Kong and neighbouring Macau is Cantonese!
By Flickr user: tboothhk [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
If you live in the UK you might be wondering whether you should even bother bringing out your summer wardrobe, locating your flip-flops or wiping the dust off your sunglasses… it doesn’t look like summer is happening this year!
Hands up if you fancy moving to a tropical island to teach English instead? Read on for i-to-i’s top 5 island TEFL destinations!
Home to some of the most envious beaches on the planet, Bali is high up on many a beach lover’s travel-musts, how do you fancy teaching there?
Given the country’s popularity it’s no surprise that the competition for teaching positions in Bali is fierce. Most employers will ask for at least a year’s teaching experience alongside both a degree and a recognised TEFL certificate – but don’t let this put you off! Where tourism leads, English language schools tend to follow…
Plus, the cost of living in Indonesia is cheap, so while the pay-packet might not seem terribly appealing, your TEFL wage will allow you to live pretty comfortably! Hello platefuls of Nasi Goreng!
By Cocu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
What’s tempting about a low-paying TEFL destination? Well, if you’re after the big bucks… not much, but, if it’s the lifestyle, the experience, friends and the cultural experience you get at the end of it then low-paying TEFL destinations definitely
shouldn’t be overlooked. It is important to bear in mind that there is a difference between countries with low-paying wages and countries with a low cost of living. Normally, the two run hand in hand – if a wage seems particularly low then, more often than not, this is because you simply don’t need to be paid much money to live comfortably.
*Top tip – If you’re looking to save money whilst teaching English abroad make sure to pick your destination appropriately, i.e. do the conversion, does what you’re earning in-country amount to much in your native country?
By JzG (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
It seems to me that many of the ‘forums’ attached to English as a Second Language (ESL) websites have become the playground for people who purport to be teachers, but exhibit behavior more in-line with what you’d expect from your average, ‘garden variety’, school-yard bully.
Visit almost any ESL ‘forum’ world-wide and you’ll see an array of vitriol from so-called teachers directed at ESL schools and people who work at ESL schools. Those who occupy the unenviable position of Director of Studies are common targets, although school owners – who are often named – cop a lot abuse. In stark contrast, I’ve been unable to locate a single post on an ESL ‘forum’ anywhere in the world, attacking an ESL teacher.
There is nothing that can prepare you for the first time you live abroad. It will probably be the most daunting, exciting and brave decision you will ever make, even if you are well travelled.
As a traveller you will step off the plane with a clear idea of the things you want to see and do, before hopping onto the next plane, ferry or train and travelling onto your next destination. Whereas if you are planning to live there, stepping off the plane can feel a lot more uncertain.
Having both lived and travelled abroad, I know first-hand how different they can be.
By David Wilmot from Wimbledon, United Kingdom (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Here’s part three of our very quick and very selective guide to some of the best travel opportunities for people teaching English in Thailand. This article covers the southern parts of Thailand including The Andaman Coast and the Lower Gulf. Read part two here
While the south doesn’t have huge teacher hubs like Chiang Mai or Bangkok, it does have quite a few TEFL jobs in provincial towns like Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat – and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in South East Asia! While the wages are lower than in Bangkok, so is the cost of living and it really couldn’t be any easier to decamp from the town or city where you are based for a weekend lounging on a palm fringed beach.
By PlusMinus (Photo by PlusMinus) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Here’s part two of our very quick and very selective guide to some of the best travel opportunities for people teaching English in Thailand. This article covers Bangkok and the surrounding areas of central Thailand. Read part one here
By Bart Hiddink [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
An ever increasing number of people are choosing to up-sticks and spend some time teaching English in Thailand. Most of these TEFL opportunities exist in three main areas: Chiang Mai and the North, Bangkok and Central Thailand, and the more touristy areas of the South.
So if you fancy teaching English over in Thailand, or if you’re just heading over there for a bit of travelling. Here are our top three picks for things to do in the first of those three areas – Chiang Mai and the North. There’s one touristy place, one slightly intrepid place, and one place where you’ll probably need a little help from Ray Mears!