Are you looking for an English teacher but not sure what questions to ask to find out if the teacher is well qualified and has enough experience? There are many things to consider when you choose an English teacher including his credentials, his patience and his ability to motivate you to reach your goals. Experience is also important. Wht kind of teaching experience should an English teacher have? At English and Culture, when we choose a new teacher to join our team in Boston or New York, we like to find out a lot about where the teacher has taught in the past. Although it is not a requirement, if the teacher has taught English in a foreign country, this makes him a stronger candidate. Why is teaching English abroad an important part of an English teacher's experience?
They can understand the cultural adjustment process:
If you have just arrived in the US or even if you have been here for a while, perhaps you have not completely adjusted to your new life here. Adjusting to American culture is a process and your level of cultural adjustment affects everything you do including learning a language. So, if your English teacher has gone through the same challenge, he will understand that if you are struggling to learn English, the real reason might have more to do with your cultural adjustment than the grammar rules of the language. This will allow your teacher to adjust the lesson plans based on what you need.
They may have a more developed, flexible and dynamic teaching style:
If your English teacher has taught English abroad, he has most likely had to teach in some challenging situations. English teachers abroad often have to create their own materials or use creative methods when they don't have the materials they need. While teaching abroad, there are a lot of variables that the teacher cannot predict but the teacher still has to find a way to run the class smoothly and try to meet his teaching objectives for each class. What does this mean for you? When you work with a teacher or tutor who has taught abroad, he is likely to be more adaptable, flexible, dynamic and might have a more refined teaching style than a teacher who has only taught English in the US. This makes for a higher quality lesson for you!
They know how language and culture connect:
In an earlier post, we talked about another credential that makes a good private English teacher great and that is experience learning a language. If your teacher has lived abroad and has an interest in languages, he has probably learned a foreign language. Even if he did not reach an advanced level of fluency in Chinese, Japanese or Italian, having lived abroad and taught English abroad, he has probably seen how language reflects culture. I believe that an understanding of this fact is crucial for any language teacher and someone who has taught English abroad is more likely to use that insight in the design of his English lessons.
They know that everyone approaches learning differently:
The way in which we learn best or prefer to learn can vary based on our cultural communication style or our learning style. If your teacher has taught abroad, he has undoubtedly realized this. A teacher who expects that all cultures will respond in the same way to the same teaching style may not be as effective as someone who has learned different ways to teach based on what works in other cultures.
So, I believe that working with an English teacher who has taught abroad can be very valuable if your teacher can take those skills and implement them into his English tutoring here in the United States with you. However, there are also some great teachers who haven't worked abroad so when you choose your tutor, it's good to find out a lot about other professional experiences and credentials that the tutors has as well.
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photo credit: nsikander28