CSLI Teacher of the Month – Katie Wong – November 2016
WHAT IS YOUR TEACHING STYLE?
Like all CSLI teachers, I want to create a fun, engaging space for my students. Even on rainy mornings or afternoons when everyone is tired, I always bring as much energy as possible to class. If I’m excited about something my students will also be excited and it makes the lesson enjoyable for everybody. I like to personalize my classes so I often create my own activities that are specific to what current students have expressed interest in. I also like to incorporate what is going on that week whether it’s discussing a top story from the news, learning about an upcoming holiday, or practicing listening and vocabulary of a new song that just came on the radio. If I had to sum up my teaching style, I would say that students can always expect something different. We’ll never do the exact same thing twice but we’re always going to have fun while we learn.
WHEN ARE YOU PROUD OF YOUR STUDENTS?
Since I only speak English, I admire anybody who is brave like the students at CSLI, who decide to immerse themselves into a new environment and learn another language. As a teacher of English, I know how challenging learning it can be and CSLI students are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I am most proud of my students when I see them take initiative to start an English conversation with other students, especially new students who may be a little hesitant on their first day. Some of my favourite moments in the classroom are when I have a few conversation questions on the board and students are able to build on them, keep the conversation going with follow up questions, and share their own personal anecdotes and experiences.
WHAT IS THE BEST ACTIVITY YOU’VE EVER DONE IN YOUR CLASS?
I personally think that the best activities are the ones that generate the most amount of conversation and laughter. I found a Canadian country song that made humourous comparisons between the United States and Canada in the lyrics. First we did a listening activity where students had to listen to the song and fill in the missing words. Then we discussed the vocabulary and slang in the song. The best part was the third component where students had to write their own funny songs comparing their countries. Students had to use their rhyming skills to create short verses then perform them for the class. It was a really fun challenge for everyone and we all got to enjoy the songs after.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO BE A TEACHER?
Each teacher at CSLI has their own unique trait that students love about them. I think that one of the most important things to have when you’re a teacher is a genuine interest in your students and what they are doing both inside and outside of the classroom. As a teacher, you have the unique opportunity to meet so many amazing people with such a broad collection of experiences and stories. You also have the chance to share your own personal experiences and recommendations with them while they are in your city. Taking the time to chat with a student may seem like a small part of yours and their day but it actually makes a big difference!
WHAT MAKES CSLI STUDENTS SO SPECIAL?
CSLI students are extremely warm and welcoming people. It’s never hard to find a helping hand or someone who wants to help answer a question. CSLI students never hesitate to invite others to join them for Theme Nights or weekend trips. Inclusivity comes naturally to CSLI students and I’ve never had to worry about someone being left out of a group assignment or a Friday activity. I think it’s really great that our students see CSLI as a family.
WHAT STUDY ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ENGLISH LEARNERS?
Try everything and anything at least once! There is so much you can learn outside of the classroom whether it’s going to a sporting event, checking out a new restaurant, or exploring a new neighbourhood in the lower mainland. Of course what you learn in the classroom is important but the best advice I could give a student is to not get too caught up with trying to understand every single grammar rule or being able to define every single word. You will be a far more confident English speaker if you focus on building your speaking skills by engaging with the people and what’s going on around you. Don’t be too hard on yourself and try your best to find the fun in every experience you have during your studies.