By Teacher Abigail See, Singaporean
Although I look like a Filipina, I am actually from Singapore. I came to Davao to accompany my husband who is working here. I have been here for slightly more than half a year, and will be here 'till October. Before coming here, I worked in the civil service in Singapore in a communications-related job role.
Before taking this TESOL course, I was a "housewife" in Davao, cooking meals and cleaning the house. These things are new to me as I only got married last year, and I hardly had the time to do these things back home in Singapore.
I first heard about TESOL a few years ago, when my friend told me that she was attending TESOL classes after work. Since then I had always wanted to take it up, but with work being quite busy in Singapore it was close to impossible to find the time to go for it.
A few years ago, I was in Myanmar for a volunteer trip, and that was when I tried my hand at teaching English for the very first time. I found the process incredibly difficult, and I had no idea where to start. It was a challenge to teach effectively.
While I am able to use the English language, the whole idea of teaching was an entirely different ballgame. I’m so glad to have been able to attend TESOL at Pacesetters Institute during my time here in Davao.
To be honest, the past three weeks have completely exhausted me out. While the course has been intensive, I have learnt so much. We’ve learnt about the various teaching methods and how to find out about our students’ needs. We’ve even learnt how to create a syllabus that’s tailored to your students, and to incorporate our students’ strengths in our lesson plans.
We have also learnt the seven laws of a teacher - something very useful for me as I do not have a background in Education or any experience in teaching.
Of all these things though, I think the most important one is that we are encouraged to know our students, and to connect with them. For example, if they are musically inclined, we can make use of music in our lessons to help them learn better. This way, they get to have fun too! This certainly proved useful during our teaching practicum at Sekolah Indonesia Davao. Those two days spent at the Indonesian School was a great way for us to put our theory and head knowledge into practice.
It was also during those two days that, I felt, I truly understood everything Ms. Jan had drilled into us over the past three weeks. It all made absolutely perfect sense - “We must have a sense of plausibility!” “The teacher is in control!” - these are some of the lines that rang true in my head during the teaching practicum.
As teachers, we must really have a sense of plausibility. While we did have a demo teaching before going into the practicum, the experiences were vastly different. My students did not seem to be able to answer all the questions for my lesson on Listening Skills. My instructions also did not seem to be clear enough. So, I had to come up with more detailed instructions for the students. I also had to read aloud certain parts of the audio clip for them to listen to, so that they could write down the correct answer. The students also enjoyed the song that I had prepared for the class.
One thing that stood out for me is the emotional connection between teacher and student. Although it was just a short two day practicum at Sekolah Indonesia Davao, the students were so endearing and grateful. They seemed to have really enjoyed what little we had done for them.
I will still be in Davao for about another three months or so, and in my remaining time here, I am intending to teach English on a volunteer basis. I want to apply all the knowledge I’ve gained in the past three weeks and put them into practice. I also wish to hone my skills as a teacher - the world of teaching is entirely new to me! In the longer term though, I'm not too sure what the future holds - my husband's job may take us to other parts of the world. But no matter where it may be, I fully intend to put the skills I've gained to good use.