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Sharing the Joy of Learning English

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By: Issra Louhichi (YES 2017-2018, Tunisia, hosted by AFS in Cumberland, ME) 

My love for English started when I was 13 years old, and as the years passed, my passion changed from learning to teaching. The love for English is contagious and I wanted to spread my English knowledge with others to make them fall in love with this language just like I did.

Going to the United States in 2017 was one of my first steps towards my goal to teach English. To be more precise, my experience at the Workshop for Youth Leaders in English Teaching (WYLET) was the starting point of my deep involvement in English Teaching. WYLET was one of the highlights of my exchange year. 

First of all, I learned the importance of being organized before giving a lesson. Therefore before any workshop I always prepare a lesson plan. I find it very effective as it organizes my thoughts, my planned activities and allows me to set specific objectives and timelines for a more effective learning environment.

Second, I always include competitive games and interactive activities during my English lessons. I divide my students into two teams to create a sense of competition for students to do their best, learn how to work in a team, and communicate to succeed. I focus on fun and productive activities to avoid disinterest and to make the lesson enjoyable even if it’s a little bit challenging.

Third comes the importance of working with technology and media. I found that students are more engaged during a lesson when there are digital resources, so I use it to improve my sessions in my home country. A song or a video always help get my students attention as they start singing and discussing the song or the video. I believe that audio-visual material helps students learn because it allows them to use all their senses and improve their abilities to focus, memorize, and analyze.

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Lastly, I want to say that during my teaching experiences I’ve always appreciated getting feedback because it is important to evaluate my work from different perspectives. It can also bring brilliant suggestions from colleagues or students that I find helpful to use in future teaching opportunities.

After my exchange year in the USA, I continued my English teaching journey in my home country. I organized the Effective English Learning Workshop (EELW) in October 2018. During this workshop I taught the colors in English to children ages five to eleven. I used a song about colors and a presentation that helped me organize the lesson. After learning the colors, the kids who were beginner level enjoyed a boggle game, coloring a rainbow, and acting in little plays about their favorite colors.

After the conference I started to miss teaching so I founded a public speaking club at El Manara High School. Sessions were very interactive and productive. The club helped students improve their English speaking skills through fun and engaging games and activities. It also helped me become more comfortable working with students and more confident in myself.

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Now, I hold one session with my public speaking club every Thursday where we usually play games in teams to practice speaking in front of an audience. Our first goal was to get rid of filler words, so we divided ourselves into two teams to play a game where students introduced themselves without using filler words. When a student used a filler word they would have to start over causing them to lose points for their team. I also film my students’ speeches so when they watch them they get to self evaluate which I think is a great way to know what went well during their speeches and what can they do to improve.

Finally, in November 2018 I held a Tomorrow’s English Speakers Camp (TES) for 6th graders. For this camp, our main goal was to describe objects and people in the present and the past tense using adjectives. We played a warm-up game, watched a video and learned how to describe in the present and past tense. 

I believe that my enriching teaching experience has so far helped me focus more on essential teaching skills such as communicating with students and being able to talk clear and concise in order to get your point across. It also opened my eyes to more valuable teaching skills which I would love to try and share with my students as an alumni assistant this summer at the English as a Foreign Language Program (EFL) program in Moldova.

After my teaching experiences in the USA and Tunisia, Moldova is my next stop to teach English. During this workshop I will assist the Moldova EFL Program staff in the development, refinement, and facilitation of select sessions. I will provide constructive suggestions to improve content as well as the implementation of the Moldova EFL Program’s curriculum by acting as a classroom assistant. I will also be a cross-cultural resource and role model for students by conducting alumni-led sessions.

Teaching has made me more responsible because being a teacher means being a role model. Since I am more comfortable in front of the classroom, I have learned to read my students’ expressions to gauge comprehension. I am able to dynamically interact with my students in both group activities as well as one-on-one interactions.

This experience raised in me the sense of commitment to teaching English by making me dedicated to being there for my club members and my students. All these skills are the secret components of succeeding in improving my community.

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