Showing support goes a long way
FOR 22-year-old Gloria Ngu, who attends Taylor’s University School of Education, making students realise the importance of learning, its relevance and how it can be applied in their lives are more important than the tools used to deliver a lesson.
With considerations such as the duration of a class, number of students and practicality of trying to get enough access to computers or the Internet, the use of technology may not be a priority, said the third-year Bachelor of Education (Hons) Primary Education student.
Her recent six-month experience as an assistant English Language teacher at a Japanese high school taught Ngu that learning 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity, communication as well as collaboration and teamwork need not require technology as a medium in class.
“I taught Senior One (equivalent to Form Four) students at Seiko Gakuin, an all-male private school in Yokohama. The education system in Japan is very exam-centric and English is not emphasised. I learnt a smattering of Japanese and traditional Japanese and pop culture to break the ice in class. I also translated certain things into Japanese. The 47 students responded to these methods,” said Ngu.
As the students already had lessons in reading and conversation, Ngu focused on grammar and argumentative writing.
“Writing is very difficult if one is learning a foreign language. So for one of my first writing lessons, I asked the students to write 200 words on whether playing Pokemon Go is a positive or negative experience.”
She divided the class into groups to discuss the topic, allowing Japanese language to be used. The group discussions continued after school hours via Google Docs and Google Translate.
“Is Homework Necessary?” was another writing topic.
“They had to write a letter to either agree or disagree and persuade me in their argument. A student ended a letter with: ‘Please don’t give me so much homework.’ It was quite funny.”
The students practised their English during two school trips and Ngu conducted classes for those who wanted coaching after school.
“From a 200-word composition, my class was able to go up to 500 words. It is very important for teachers to show their caring side and show support to students for them to become more confident. It is also important in shaping future leaders especially when students have limited exposure to the language or come from an underprivileged background.”
Ngu, a former SMK Seafield, Selangor student, said the experience has made her even more passionate about teaching and she is eager to begin her career.