TEFL Assignment Name: Una Burns Student No: 40024517 Course Director: Paul Anthony Assignment Title: Outline the problems faced by both the teacher and the student on a TEFL course. (1000 words approx. ) Outline the problems faced by both the teacher and the student on a TEFL course. (1000 words approx. ) The acquisition of a new language can pose many difficulties to both the student, in learning the language, and to the teacher in communicating and teaching the language. The following essay attempts to outline some of these difficulties.
One of the major factors affecting all students attempting to acquire a foreign language is the correlation of the new language and their native tongue. The degree of variation between the student’s native tongue and the English language can cause all kinds of problems with grammar, spelling, and pronunciation, alongside other factors such as the age of the student, available resources, time, and how long it has been since they have last undergone study. The age of a student can have a considerable effect on the ability of that student to acquire knowledge of the English language.
Adult learners rarely acquire new language due to their extensive knowledge and skills developed over their lifetime, where as younger learners, such as those still in school, will be accustomed to acquiring new language skill on a daily basis. For these younger learners, acquiring a new language is a more natural process than it is for older students who may have not had to study for many years. Secondly, another problem which may arise is a lack of motivation and enthusiasm shown by the students.
Students may skip class, and when they do show up may find it difficult to maintain attention and become easily distracted. They may lack any semblance of attention during class, chatting with classmates, doodling in their note books or misbehaving. Therefore the challenge for the teacher on the TEFL course is one of increasing motivation of the students. This can be done in a variety of ways such as using activities matched to the personalities, learning styles and characteristics of the learners as often and as practically as possible.
Furthermore insufficient time, resources and materials can be a huge underlying problem for teachers and students alike on a TEFLcourse. In many cases, English may only be given one or two hours a week in a classroom timetable. Add too little time to a decided lack of resources and virtually zero other resources in many third-world classrooms and you have a critical teaching / learning situation. There are ways, even on the lowest budget, however of producing virtually free or very inexpensive English language teaching and learning aids.
The role of the teacher on the TEFL course therefore is one of sourcing these and using these to optimum use. Moreover, a very common problem faced is one of overcrowded classrooms. The number of learners in a class room can range from one, for those who teach individual private learners, of fifteen or twenty learners in a typical classroom up to multitudes of thirty-five, forty or even fifty or more learners packed into a language leaning situation. Therefore, in such situations, “individual attention” may play little or no role in classroom life.
The teacher must set up a classroom which caters for all the individual needs in the classroom while also not ignoring the abilities of each individual child. While English is no more complex than other languages like Portuguese, it has several features which may create difficulties for learners. It is important to remember that learning a second language involves much more than learning the words and the sounds of a language. Communication breakdowns occur not only due to the more commonly understood syntax and pronunciation difficulties but because when we learn a language we also learn a culture.
What is perceived as right, normal and correct in one language and culture does not always “translate” into a second language even when the vocabulary is understood. Communication breakdowns may occur as a result of cultural assumptions regarding age, forms of address, authority and respect, touching, eye contact and other body language, greetings, invitations, and punctuality to name just a few. In particular, some students may have very different cultural perceptions in the classroom as far as learning a second language is concerned. Also, cultural differences in communication styles and preferences are significant.
For example, a study looked at Chinese ESL students and British teachers and found that the Chinese learners did not see classroom discussion and interaction as important but placed a heavy emphasis on teacher-directed lectures. Pronunciation can also prove a major problem both to the learner and the teacher. Language learners will often produce errors of pronunciation as a result of the influence of their native language, such as mapping its grammatical patterns inappropriately onto the new language being learnt. Speakers of Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Thai may have difficulty distinguishing [r] and [l].
The distinction between [b] and [v] can cause difficulty for native speakers of Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Additionally, grammar can pose a difficulty for many English speaking people and so can prove very challenging for those learning English as a foreign language. English has a relatively large number of tenses with some quite subtle differences, such as the difference between the simple past “I ate” and the present perfect “I have eaten. ” Progressive and perfect progressive forms add complexity. These students may find difficulties incorporating the rules of English tenses into their new language.
Additionally, the spelling system causes problems in both directions – a learner may know a word by sound but not be able to write it correctly, indeed find a word in a dictionary, or they may see a word written but not know how to pronounce it, mis-learning the pronunciation. Words such as “photo” and “photographer” “economist” and “economical” are all written very similar however are pronounced slightly different. This can be a very difficult concept for a teacher to communicate but also for a learner to understand and implement.
To conclude, while it would be virtually impossible to provide a detailed list of all the problems which will be faced to both a teacher and student on a TEFL course, this essay has summarized some of the limitations and constraints. The role of the TEFL teacher however, is not to see these as “problems” but as “challenges. ” The teacher must create a learning environment which is based on trust, confidence building and fundamental to the classroom, fun! In creating the right classroom and learning environment, many of these problems will lessen greatly.