Wednesday 28 January 2009

How Age Affects Language Learning

Updated 18 June 2012

Here are some ideas about how language learning is affected by age. You might also want to read Jean Piget's cognitive development theory. 

Learning Languages as Young Children
Children are like sponges. They don't question grammar or pronunciation, they just listen and speak. A young child will have the ability to learn a language quickly and have native pronunciation. However, if the child doesn't keep up with the language, they will lose it just as quickly as they learnt it. While listening and speaking come easily, reading and writing are a bit more difficult. Teaching English to young learners has lots of tips for teaching children.

Learning Languages in School
Children in primary and secondary school get input from reading and listening. Teens tend to learn well since they still learn quickly like children and are able to study like adults. Their pronunciation might not be as good as a child who learns another language at a younger age and they might have to study pronunciation. Another challenge is that since they are fixed in their native language they might want to translate or think first in their native language.

Learning Languages as Adults
Adults have many things against them, such as being rooted in their native language and needing to understand grammar. They will want to know the "why" behind the foreign language as well. However, they are stricter with themselves and their learning. They also are usually more disciplined than younger students. They also might be highly motivated to learn a language in order to get a promotion or a better job. Due to this, they may spend lots of time studying the foreign language.


Wednesday 21 January 2009

How to Create Autonomous Students

Updated 18 February 2012

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Outside of Class

Students can study for hours and fail, others study for 30 minutes and pass with flying colours. Quality, not quantity works. Here are some studying tips.
  • Study everyday for at least 20.
  • Find a quiet place to study.
  • Organise yourself. Keep your notes in order and papers in one place.
  • Take breaks often. It's hard to concentrate for long periods of time.
  • Don't pull all nighters.
  • Set goals and reward yourself.
  • Get a study group
  • Look at the next chapter so you know what's coming up in class.
  • Use it! Use the language that you learnt in class.
  • Write it down. Don't just highlight or underline.
  • Eliminate distractions. Get away from the tv, computer, loud noises etc.
  • Read more studying tips.

In Class

Challenge your students to only use English in class. You could try giving awards to the student or students who use the least L1 in class. Here are some more classroom tips.
  • Ask questions that make them think and allow for different answers.
  • After the lesson, ask the same question and see if they've changed their minds.
  • Music changes the dynamics of class and makes it more fun.
  • Use technology: Power point, Youtube, Twitter, smart phones, and even Facebook can be used.
  • Relate it to their lives.
  • Hands on learning is fun, so use surveys, charts, podcasts, websites, videos, etc.


Wednesday 14 January 2009

Health and Travel Insurance for TEFL Teachers

Updated 17 July 2016

If you're going to live abroad you need health insurance. Some employers will give you insurance. You should find out if it's a public or private. There are some countries with great public health care and there are others that have terrible public health care. Getting into the system may be difficult since you may have to book an appointment weeks in advance or get a referral just to see a doctor at the hospital. Some have an unskilled medical billing and coding workforce. There are things to consider when dealing with medical issues abroad. Budget Travel has 6 things to keep in mind about medical care abroad. If you're eligible to get the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), please do so. It's free and can be life saving.

If you're working abroad, you should be able to get national insurance where you live. However, when you go to travel, you may not be able to buy the extra travel insurance that citizens of that country can buy. For example, in Korea, they sell insurance at the airport but sometimes will not sell it to people who aren't Korean citizens. Even going through your home country might not work since many travel insurance companies will refuse to sell you insurance if you don't reside in that country.

Here are some companies that might be able to help you out. If you buy your own insurance ask if they cover medically supervised emergency evacuations, emergency reunions, repatriation of remains, and lost or stolen goods. Lonely Planet recommends World Nomad. Another popular insurance company for is BUPA. Check out the links below for more companies.


Wednesday 7 January 2009

Teaching in Latin America

Updated 28 November 2014

In Latin America you can live pretty well. Going out to eat or having a maid is affordable. You should check out the FAQs for teaching in Latin America has country-by-country information and you can find free lists of schools at the LA Job list.

Types of Teaching Jobs
  • Many teachers end up at language schools / institutes and you may have to work split shifts.
  • If you have a teaching license look at bilingual or international school where you’ll get a higher salary and paid vacations.
  • Universities might be another option if you have at least a BA and a couple years teaching experience.
Signing a Contract to Teach in Latin America
Most places will want to meet you before offering you a job. The best thing to do is start contacting schools, tell them when you will arrive and try to set up an interview. The majority of teachers are able to secure teaching positions within one or two weeks.

Remember that each school is different. Some institutes hire only those with working visas. Others hire teaching on tourist visas. Some will require you sign a contract and some are more flexible and just have verbal agreements.

Typical contracts usually include the minimum number of hours, amount and frequency of pay, length of contract, whether teachers can teach classes outside of the school, and how the contract can be broken.

Visas for Teaching in Latin America
Countries change their visa regulations all the time. For example, Ecuador just eliminated border hopping and visa extensions and now it’s almost impossible to teach on a tourist visa. Peru just changed its 90 day visa to up to 183 days. In general, primary, secondary, bilingual, and international schools as well as universities are more likely to get you a work visa than language institutes. If you're going to get a work visa ask what documents you need. If you’ve married a local, you get residency and a work visa.

Be sure to check about visa rules beforehand and know how long you can stay and if visa extensions are allowed. If they are find out how much more time you can get. Some countries have a limit on the total numbers of days you can stay in a year; some enforce this law and others are more flexible. Sometimes you can get an extension in the country, other times you may have to leave the country, and other times you can simply pay a fine for overstaying your visa. Although it's not uncommon for people to work on tourist visas it is illegal. While most people have no issues you could be fined, deported, or worse.

Qualifications and Money Matters
Having a BA is often a basic requirement although you maybe able to get around that if you have life experience. TEFL certification classes, such as the one through the University of Toronto and CCELT, both which can be taken online will help you know about your subject matter and giving you practical teaching tips and experience teaching students. If you aren’t able to do a TEFL cert then at least do some research, observe some classes, or talk to some teachers.

Many teachers end up at language schools that typically pay about $6 to $15 an hour. Some schools may offer you room, board, and a small stipend in exchange for teaching. You may find yourself working at more than one language institute to pick up enough hours. Private students aren’t difficult to pick up and teachers usually charge between $5 and $20 an hour. You should bring money to tide you over before you get paid. The cost of living is pretty low compared to other places such as North America and Europe. Most teachers can live off of $600 a month provided they learn to use local transport and cook at home.

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