At the heart of my teaching is a drive to build community, foster student autonomy, and create a student-centered learning environment.
On this page I include an overview of my teaching philosophy, which you can read in its entirety in my position paper submitted for graduation.
My Language Learning History Informs My Teaching
I did not learn how to truly study language until I moved to Mexico for a year. Unfortunately, most of my Spanish learning in high school and college was devoid of authentic content, scaffolded lessons, task-based instruction, and communicative activities. While sitting on my Mexicana Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City in 2009, I quickly realized that I barely had the words to order un jugo de naranja (an orange juice). Upon reflection, neither living in Mexico nor simply taking classes was the magical recipe for becoming fluent, but rather an appropriate mixture of the two. Truly, what I learned as a student still continues to inform my teaching and understanding of language acquisition. As a teacher, I face the never-ending commitment to understanding what language is and how it is learned, based on my past and present experiences.
I Use Authentic Materials to Promote Student Autonomy
I am passionate about helping English language learners navigate through their language learning processes, because indeed, language learning is a lifelong process. Thus, I make it my teaching goal to afford learners the ability to access the English language outside of classroom, and one is through technology. This includes the use of videos, online websites, and other forms of Web2.0 in the classroom. I regularly try to have students access new websites and utilize technological tools for social interaction, language practice, activity completion, and self-expression.
Due to the importance I place on education outside of the classroom, I believe that the best kind of educational approaches actually reflect those external environments. Engaging students in authentic texts designed for a target language audience necessitates finding ways to expand their language abilities to those of a target language audience. My lesson plan featured in my “Syllabus and Lesson Plan” academic project as well as my position paper portray how I utilize authentic materials. Also, my teaching videos include snip-its of lessons featuring authentic materials and project-based student videos like cooking clam chowder in Monterey!
Assessment Is Important
I encourage learners to interact in online or in-person communities to ultimately gauge their success of language comprehension and use. If something goes awry, I view the language classroom as the site to better hone their knowledge. In the classroom, I use diagnostic tests, placement tests, and screening tests to inform needs assessment, which in effect informs learning training. My assessment project is an original diagnostic test that I created, implemented, and statically analyzed with a peer.
In terms of standardized tests, often, I must give my students what they need for future academic success – such as help on the TOEFL or GED – however, I also deeply believe in intrinsic motivation and learning for knowledge. As much as possible, I try to connect their “test mentalities” to a more meaningful experience of learning a new world imbedded in language. To date, I usually tutor students individually for test-preparation and sometimes in designated courses.
English is a Global Language
I hold a critical view of the notion of “standard” English in reaction to globalization that fiercely continues to influence the present and future of cultures and their native languages, including varieties of “non-standard” English. As a result, I challenge myself to find ways to use the classroom as a site of identity exploration by having students bring forward their life experiences and backgrounds. For me, this is the essence of a communicative classroom: students engaging with others to continually build their linguistic repertoire where any individual, depending on the context, may be the cultural ambassador. I will tell students what is the “standard” form/meaning/use of something we are learning, but I also invite them to explore “non-standard” varieties. This is often best captured by inviting speakers into the class and having them interact with the community like through “Contact America” projects that the ELS Language Centers has instructors assign.
Language Teaching and Learning Is a Lifelong Love
A part of the passion that I have for language learning and teaching resides in the fact that the TESOL field, and linguistics in general, drastically changes over small periods of time. I am also passionate about sociolinguistics and pragmatics, which my revised sociolinguistics variation project is a reflection of. I completed the original research project that I undertook at the beginning of my MATESOL program for my portfolio. Also, I hold a B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics from the University of California – San Diego where I was heavily influenced by pragmatics, phonology, psycholinguistics, social psychology, and social cognition.
Thus, I use my academic career to influence my teaching, and my teaching to influence my (future) academic inquiry. I view the ever-changing field of language teaching as a challenge that I am dedicated to meet. The crux of what is language for me is how language is used to create and interpret meaning, which we are all constantly engaged in and I am to discover and teach. I aspire to continue with my participation in the academic world through future studies, teaching, presentations, and publications. I am also willing to let my ideas be formed, reformed, questioned, applauded, accepted, and rejected. So, I hope you will do just that!