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  • Meet Native English Teacher James

    James, tell us a bit about your past experiences teaching English

    I have experience teaching many topics to students in and out of the classroom. For two years I taught English to teenagers whose native languages ranged from Russian and Chinese to Spanish and Portuguese. Those two years were very rewarding and I felt privileged to help another person on their journey towards English fluency. From that experience I learned that English can be a difficult language to learn unless one has a motivated and patient teacher. Additionally I learned that being able to be reactive was just as important as being proactive. One of my best lessons learned was that my English lesson plan and conversation did not always fit the skill level or interests of my student so instead of pushing through a difficult path I altered the conversation in the moment to help insure that the student was engaged and actually learning and not just going through the motions and repeating things that I said.

    Native English Teacher James

     

    Tell us more about your education?

    I graduated high school in the top 10% of my class and went on to Western Washington University to study Mathematics Education. I didn’t do so well in my upper-level calculus and theoretical algebra classes but I excelled in English, Music, Astronomy, and Education. After my first year I took a break to earn money and do some travelling. When I came back to school I started taking Psychology and Sociology classes as well as music production courses. I was interested in everything I was doing I just didn’t have the passion behind it like I did with Education.

    I started looking for a new University and after some research I found Western Governors University which offered a Bachelor’s degree in Education online so I figured that I would give it a try. I started back into Mathematics education and quickly came to the realization that Math was not my calling. After some discussions with my professors and advisors I decided to go into Special Education which I have been doing now for two years. I fell in love with Special Education and cannot wait to be in a classroom helping students with learning disabilities. I have about a year left of classes then I will be moving on to student teaching before I am able to be fully certified.

     

    How would you describe a typical English lesson at Spoken English Practice?

    I envision a lesson of mine to be conducted in a very engaging but relaxed manner. I want my Spoken English lessons to feel like a natural conversation between friends or someone interesting that you met in public. Perhaps we decide on a specific topic for the English lesson and let the conversation flow from there; or perhaps the lesson does not begin with a specific topic and we simply discuss our days and what has been happening in our lives.

    I am a very inquisitive person and I believe that quality will help push our lessons forward so that there aren’t as many pauses or stops between topics.

     

    What are your favorite conversation topics?

    Currently I have been extremely interested in US politics and how they are affecting other parts of the world. I love discussing political issues from both sides of the argument because it is my understanding that one cannot know anything that well until one knows a topic from as many different perspectives as possible. Something that also deserves insight from multiple perspectives is religion and spirituality and how people around the world seek greater meaning in their lives. I am continuously interested in the miracle or consciousness and how we try to understand it from a spiritual and scientific point of view.

    For something on the lighter side sports are also of great interest to me. My favorite sports are American Football and International Football. I would love to talk about either anytime especially with the American Football season starting so soon there will be a lot to discuss. Food is always an engaging topic whether we discuss specific cuisine and cooking techniques or we discuss some of our all-time favorite meals.

    I love to learn about food from around the world and the different ways that people cook and eat. Music is another topic that interests me from both a player’s perspective and from the listener’s perspective. I like all kinds of music from Classical and Jazz to Rock and Roll, Hip-Hop, Rap, Country and Pop. I love movies as well; some of my favorites include Interstellar, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and all of the Marvel movies. As far as TV goes I religiously watch the Walking Dead. The US version of “The Office” is my all-time favorite show.

     

    In your experience, what area in English do students need the most help? Grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation or something else? How would you address this in your online English classes?

    The main problems I have seen with English Language Learners is their grammar when it comes to choosing the right verb or the right conjugation of the verb. Just as important is pronunciation which can dramatically affect the way people think of you when you start speaking. Even someone who is not fully fluent in English can sound more confident and be better understood when their pronunciation practiced and slowly perfected. I intend to help with these problems by allowing my students to speak slowly so that they have the time to envision the correct word hear what that word should sound like before they say it.

    I will not hesitate to correct my students grammar and pronunciation if I feel that it would be beneficial for them to slow down and try to hear what they say before they say it. Though I do not anticipate stopping conversations all the time to correct grammar and pronunciation I would argue that taking 30 seconds or a minute to practice the proper pronunciation or verb conjugation adds a great deal of value to my student’s lessons.

     

    What are your top 3 tips to ESL students around the world?

    My first tip I learned from my Spanish teacher in high school. What stuck out to me from her lessons was the fact that every day we started class by listening to 10-15 minutes of Spanish music and she encouraged us very strongly to all sing along. Not only was this very engaging and fun but to this day I can still sing some of those songs and their lyrics have stuck with me which contribute to my vocabulary in a way that a textbook was not able to do. So my first tip would be to listen to English music. I think American Pop has a lot of vocabulary that is helpful to pick up on but some specific artists that I think could be most helpful would be Adele, Taylor Swift, and Macklemore because they are easier to understand than some other artists and they have a wide vocabulary in their music that would probably be more beneficial to ESL students.

    Secondly I would suggest that students try to have English conversations with their friends or family on a daily basis or as often as possible so that there is more retention in the long term. I cannot implore live conversation enough because it truly is the key to becoming fluent in English.

    The third tip I have I also picked up while studying Spanish in high school. I would suggest changing the language on the computer, cell phone and tablet to English so that every time a device is used so is English. This is a good technique to help students think in English as well as a way to learn vocabulary that may not come up as frequently in normal conversation.

     

    A little bit about what you like to do when you are not teaching English.

    When I’m not busy teaching English or studying Special Education I like taking my dogs to the park and letting them socialize with other people’s dogs. Almost without fail each trip to the dog-park brings with it a very funny moment.   I always have at least one book that I read at a time sometime I read as many as three. Some of my favorite authors are J.D. Salinger, George Orwell, Aldous, Huxley, and Fritjof Capra. I love keeping up with new movies and the videogames on the Xbox One.

     

    What kind of students do you prefer?

    My preferred student would be one who enjoys talking about their life experiences and their culture. I would very much enjoy getting to learn about different cultures around the world just by talking with new students. I want ESL students who are excited to talk every session because I know that I will be. I know a little bit of Spanish so any students with a background in Spanish would be fun to work with too.

    If you want to take a trial Spoken English Lesson with James, email us at info@spokenenglishpractice.com with “James” in the subject and we will schedule a class for you.
    September 11, 2015
    11 September 2015,
     Off
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