Experiencing resistance to your innovations in the classroom

Diary submitted by Amy H

Advantages of sticking to a rigid curriculum.

How do you find the balance between following a lesson plan and adapting the material to your students’ needs? 

In this diary I will assess the advantages and disadvantages of sticking to a rigid curriculum, and the positive results that can come from adapting the material according to the particular needs of your student. Although it is possible that you will experience resistance from a student when you try new things with them in the lessons, there are still advantages of being innovative in your methods of teaching TEFL. 

It is often extremely useful to have a rigid curriculum to work from. As a TEFL teacher, it is a great comfort to have your lesson plan, and all the content that the student needs to learn, there and ready for you. I find that I am much more confident in my teaching ability, and less nervous about teaching a new student, if I know exactly how the lesson is going to be taught, and what is going to be covered. It also makes timekeeping a lot easier in many ways, as after a few lessons you become aware of how long to allocate to each section. 

However, all of these reasons do not mean that adapting the material to your students’ needs is a bad thing. Quite the opposite, in fact. The ability to think on my feet has been the most valuable lesson I have learned during my TEFL internship. For example, I had one student for a 1-1 lesson, and had a rigid lesson plan for them, which consisted of a text to read, comprehension question, and then the grammar part was a tense review. However, about 10 minutes into the lesson it came to light that the student was going on a business trip to London in a few weeks’ time. So, after we had completed the reading and comprehension activities, I decided to adapt the grammar section of the lesson plan, which was a review of the future and conditional tenses, to fit his needs. We recapped how to structure the tenses, and then I asked him to use business vocabulary when forming sentences using a variety of these tenses. It became a very useful class for him, as he was now able to speak about the future intentions and wishes of his company and for his career, which he was grateful for, as it was likely that these topics would come up during his work trip to London. 

In conclusion, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages of having a rigid curriculum, but it is fundamental that as TEFL teachers, we are able to think on our feet and adapt to our students’ needs when necessary. When we do so, we are providing a more personalised and engaging lesson, which without doubt improves the experience for the student. 

Source- “Advantages and disadvantages of using instructional materials in teaching ESL”, Professor Jack C. Richards (Accessed 11/09/2017: http://www.professorjackrichards.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-using-instructional-materials-in-teaching-esl/ 

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