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Some Real Ideas To "Help Me Teach" Abroad

 

Language textGuest Post by
Betsy Bruneau
Help Me Teach Desk
GeoVisions

So, you are traveling to a new country to teach conversational English as a member of the Conversation Corps or as a Conversation Partner! What an opportunity. If you don't already know, soon you will learn where you are staying and the age of your "students." Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to cover while you are there.

My name is Betsy Bruneau and I am a teacher of English language learners. I have worked with children of every age and have also taught adult education. And I also run the Help Me Teach desk here at GeoVisions. I'm here to help you with very particular issues. All of the help I provide during your program is specific to your own situation. Feel free to email me anytime.

I can honestly say that there are advantages for teaching every age. Even if you are working with students in a capacity that you did not expect, chances are you can find your niche with them. Remember to have fun. This is an adventure in teaching conversational English so it is less formal and the possibilities are endless.

If you are teaching children of any age, be sure to check with their parents and guardians to determine what they expect from your stay. You can do that even before you depart your home country. Often, they will want you to work on a specific skill in order to prepare their children for an upcoming task, test or visit to an English speaking area. If you are teaching adults, the same applies. Several of the tutors who are teaching adults right now are preparing them for a component of their job or an upcoming test.

The first couple of days may be awkward but try to imagine yourself welcoming a tutor into your own home. They will want to know a lot about you. So bring some personal affects with you. They will, most likely, be interested in seeing pictures of your family and friends. They will also want to see the region of the country from where you come. Bring postcards of places you have visited or pictures of your hometown. Bring American magazines and newspapers. If you are teaching teenagers, they would probably love to see more about how American or Canadian teenagers live. If they are interested in sports, music, art, etc., bring media that
focuses on that area.

a tutor a spainBe prepared to answer questions about your life here. They may want to know about government or politics. They may want to know what the fascination is with American sports or the Kardashians. There are so many possibilities. Be sure to brush up on the goings on of the country that you will be visiting. This will allow for some back and forth between you and your family and also reassure them that you are interested in their lives and their country.

A few years ago my family hosted a sixteen year old from Germany for the academic year. We spent the first couple of days just finding out about each other and sharing pictures. We talked about favorite meals, pastimes, hobbies, etc. We talked about the expectations that we had of each other. It was not awkward because we didn’t rush into anything. Try to take your host family’s lead. And when you arrive, arrive prepared to show your hosts that you are serious about this venture.

Most of all, have fun.

I hope to be hearing from you when you're on your project if you need any help.  And if you want to reach out before you depart, do that too.  I spend a lot of my time working with GeoVisions participants even before they leave for their assignment.  Don't be shy!

Comments

This is great advice. I leave in a week to spend three months in Italy tutoring at a secondary school. I’ll be with two different families during this time and they appear to be very different. I am still trying to think of little token gifts to give the children, but I spent about an hour walking around the mall today and just couldn’t think of what to give. I’ve already bought the 4 year-old son a Dr. Seuss book, but I’m lost for everyone else!  
 
I think the biggest part of this adventure will just be remaining flexible, good-natured, and open-minded. Despite the language barrier, enthusiasm and courtesy shines through in any language.  
Posted @ Thursday, January 26, 2012 4:42 PM by Robin
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