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Choosing the New ESL Teacher

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On the last day of my conversation class this semester, my students
said that this activity was one of the best we'd done, so I thought I
would submit it. It's for Intermediate and Advanced students.

Directions for the group (all of this information
should be on a handout):
You are the Program Director for a community college adult ESL
program. You need to hire two new teachers: one for an Advanced
class, and one for a High Beginning class. Each position is
part-time, 12.5 hours per week, no benefits.
The following people have all applied. Who would you be interested
in hiring? Why? What else would you want to know about each

Holly Smith
Holly just completed her PhD in English Literature. She
eventually wants to be an English professor, but for now
she wants to stay in this town while her fiancee finishes
his dissertation. She thinks that she would be a good ESL
teacher because her fiancee is from Spain and she's taught
him a good deal of English in the three years that they
have been together. She has spent two years teaching English
composition (writing) to college freshmen and sophomores.

Deana Chambers:
After finishing college with a degree in journalism, Deana
spent a summer teaching English to Spanish-speaking migrant
farm workers on a tobacco farm. She wants to continue teaching
ESL because (a) she loves it and (b) it helps her improve her
Spanish-speaking skills. She emphasized on her resume (CV) that
she has lots of interesting and practical lesson ideas. She wants
to teach English during the day and continue her other job
at night (she is a waitress).

Julia Stevens
Julia just finished a 120-hour intensive ESL Teaching certificate
course that included 20 hours of teaching experience. She
eventually would like to teach overseas, but she wants to
have some experience teaching in the US first, especially because
she's been told that she can get a better overseas job with more
experience. She wants to work full-time because she has
student loans to pay off.

Joanne Mankin is an American who taught high school French for
the last ten years. Six months ago, she started teaching at
a private language institute in a city one hour away. She
really enjoys teaching adults and says that her past experience
as a foreign language teacher is very useful while planning and
teaching ESL.

Jay Morgentaler
Jay has both a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Dramatical Theatre. He
has trained other actors to speak in a variety of accents and
thinks that this would help him be a good ESL teacher. He also
has mentioned that he wants to use a lot of role-play activities
in class.

Jan Lee.
Jan has ten years of experience teaching English. She started
speaking English when she was thirteen years old. She hasn't
taught in the US before, but she has "near-native" proficiency.

Christie Davies
Christie just returned from two years of teaching English in
Hungary. She feels sympathetic to students' problems with
cultural adjustment: she's going through many of the same things!
In addition to this valuable cross-cultural experience, she
received a Master's degree in TESOL via distance learning while
she was in Hungary.

That's the handout. I usually talk about each teacher candidate
with the class, asking them to think about positive and negative
points. If your students need questions to discuss (mine didn't),
here are some possibilities:
1. Is is necessary to have a PhD to teach ESL?
2. How helpful would a PhD in English Literature really be?
3. Is teaching English to your significant other the same
as teaching an English class? How is it different?
4. How is college teaching different from teaching ESL?
5. Is it a good idea to have two jobs? What if you can't
get by financially otherwise?
6. Is teaching English a good way to learn another language?
7. Is 120 hours of training enough to be a teacher?
8. How do you feel about people using one job as a stepping
stone for another?
9. Do you think someone can pay off student loans while teaching
10. How is teaching high school different from teaching ESL?
How is it similar?
11. How is teaching acting different from teaching ESL? How is
it similar?
12. Can a non-native speaker be a successful ESL teacher?
Would you hire such a person for a job in the US?
13. What do you think of distance learning degrees? Do you think that
such qualifications are useful for teaching?

Additional activities:
Write an advertisement for your teacher's job.
Write some questions you would want to ask these candidates. If
time permits, role play interview situations.

As should be obvious, there are no right and wrong answers.
You can change the details to make it more relevant to the
situation you teach in. In fact, this is a variation on an activity
from Can't Stop Talking by George Rooks.

--Karin Abell
Durham Technical Community College
Durham, NC
[email protected]

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