In my line of teaching, I am constantly employing new methods to reach my students. I teach English for Academic Purposes, English for Business Purposes, English for General Purposes, and English for Specific Purposes. So far, I have taught a wide variety of students: high school aged Korean boys learning ESL, college aged Omani students who need to be able to study in English, Portuguese families learning everyday English to get by in a foreign country, pilots who must learn English before they can achieve their dreams of flying, German medical practitioners who speak English perfectly, but need to touch up on jargon for translating medical texts, businesspeople who need specific terms to ensure the success of their companies, and the list goes on. Needless to say, I need to be very flexible so I can meet my students’ needs, and ensure that cultural differences do no impact on the learning process.
Some techniques don’t work for me, because of my personality, I guess. However, it is crucial to embrace the challenge of trying new methods to hold stagnation at bay. I decided to adapt an existing lesson and make it available as an e-class. In the past, I have had a lot of success with this lesson in which my students write their own bucket lists. Adapting the material was easy enough, since I’ve done this lesson so many times and know it works well. I just had to tweak it for online delivery.
Preparing the actual video class was a little more challenging. It was quite a learning curve for me, since I had never filmed or edited a video like this before. My mother did my make-up, my sister did my hair, and my husband set up his lovely Canon 5DMk3 so that I could film myself giving the same lesson over, and over, and over, and over again. This alone was challenging from a logistics perspective. I had to film outside because of the light, and moving a few items of furniture outside seemed the best idea. My neighbourhood is quiet enough, but birds singing, dogs barking, cars driving, neighbours chatting, kids yelling, the neighbour on the corner doing renovations, all added new obstacles to a smooth filming process. After too many hours of retaking shots, I had enough to begin editing. Luckily, my husband could guide me through the process, although I think I tested his patience a few times when I asked him for the millionth time how to do something simple!
I think the lesson was successful. I know that in the future I will be able to do a better job. Reflecting on the actual lesson itself, however, I came to realise a few things. Developing a lesson is a wonderful part of the teaching experience, but the actual teaching is where the hard work pays off. I missed the interaction I usually have with my students when I deliver this lesson in a traditional format. I love seeing my students internalise the message of the lesson, and begin crafting their own wish lists for the future. I love witnessing how they interact with each other: it can can be funny when the quietest person reveals that they are actually quite a dare devil to the surprise of their classmates. On a more practical level, it is easier for me to gauge how a lesson is going in person. I know if I need to slow down or speed up, and I can constantly improve my lesson based on how each class goes. This is lost when the lesson is delivered online in the manner I used.
Overall, this was a valuable experience for me. I think the e-class can show my ability to craft and develop lessons, as well as my willingness to try new techniques and methods. In the future, I hope to create more e-classes.