“My coursework at SIT prior to my practicum gave me a solid foundation of useful approaches and lesson formats to incorporate into my classroom.”
Spotlight on Loretta Swartz, MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Loretta Swartz wanted to spend her internship teaching young learners. So she chose to go to Gliwice, Poland, to teach English to students at Konarskiego Vocational High School and Okrzei Technical High School.
During five 45-minute class periods per week, Loretta taught beginning to intermediate English conversation and, for students at the technical school, English with a concentration on vocabulary relevant to the fields of math and science. She was responsible for providing instruction in written and spoken English, developing curricula, and creating exams and a grading rubric. At both schools, she worked alongside an experienced English teacher.
The conversation classes allowed Loretta the freedom to design her own curriculum; she concentrated on speaking and listening. For the technical English course, she had a curriculum to work with that included a topic summary, vocabulary list, and comprehension questions, but, she explains, she “had to be creative with the curriculum because it was incomplete.”
At both schools, she experimented with concepts she had learned at SIT. “The coursework prior to the practicum gave me a solid foundation of useful approaches and lesson formats to incorporate into my classroom.” She used the jigsaw strategy and Cuisenaire rods to help students develop their speaking and listening skills and prepared guessing games to help students learn the long lists of vocabulary words in each unit. She also prepared reading and listening exercises that provided some information about culture in the English-speaking world.
Loretta did face a few challenges. There was no Internet connection in the classrooms, so she had to purchase a portable Internet modem. She also had to bring her own art supplies to the classroom. “The incorporation of the textbook in class was the most challenging thing for me. I found it hard to use the textbook creatively because the exercises were 'perfect' but boring. I mainly tried to do things that made the exercises less boring.”
In spite of the challenges, Loretta found her internship a rewarding experience. “I received plenty of support from my MAT supervisor and homestay family,” she says. “The students were for the most part grateful to have an opportunity to speak to a native English speaker.” The most rewarding part of her time in Poland, she says, was “the cultural awareness that came from our classes.”
Since finishing her portfolio for her MA, Loretta has moved to the Republic of Korea and is a substitute English teacher at Seoul Foreign School. She graduated from SIT in December 2012.
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