Teaching online: Easy or professional clownism?
A lot of the expat community in South East Asia, particularly the younger crowd, is here because they are teachers. There are very few exceptions to this although every now and then I'll meet a Muay Thai gym owner or the odd off-season oil-rig worker, but by and large if you are under 50 and you are living in South East Asia, you are teaching to some degree.
I will supplement my income from time to time with teaching, and I also know people that do this exclusively for work. I have certain restrictions when I am doing it such as I will not teach anyone under the age of 15 nor will I teach beginners. Other people, such as my next door neighbor, teach any age they can get their hands on and for the most part this means very young children living in China.
I can hear her when I go out in the hallway from our building and I have to say, there is no way I could do what she does for a living based solely on the sounds that I hear emanating from her apartment.
She is doing a silly voice the entire time she is talking and saying single words over and over again and then shouting out "hooray!" or "yeeeaaaa" to what I presume is some child that is just barely over 4 years old that is being forced to sit and look at the crazy white person on the screen and repeat what they say over and over again.
Is it beneficial to the kids? If you ask me I don't think that it is and I have mentioned this before. The refining of a language should be done by a native English speaker, the initial teaching should be done by someone that speaks the same language as you so you have some sort of starting point. I find it completely absurd that anyone out there thinks that you can stick a bunch of kids in front of a person who they do not understand and that somehow they will magically emerge on the other end with some sort of understanding of what that person is saying.
Sure, visual aides help and in this regard the computers are very helpful because they can be produced on any screen in the world and many of the companies that offer online courses prepare this information and the all the visual aides for you. The few classes a week that i teach are basically a copy of Rosetta Stone but instead of having microphone try to interpret your words you have a human and this is much more effective as anyone who has ever used that aspect of Rosetta Stone can attest.
My classes are more advanced that looking at a few pictures and then cheering and acting like a clown when a 5 year old eventually mimics what you are saying and manages to say "fish" correctly. I find this sort of education quite ludicrous actually. The kid can't possible be enjoying this and is almost certainly just going through the motions in order to get it over with. Kids remember stuff better than adults do but at the end of the day, how effective is this really going to be?
My next door neighbor is a professional clown in her teaching and even she would admit this. I feel bad for her because she needs the money. I would guess that she probably doesn't enjoying doing this for a living either but doesn't have any other options. She says it is easy though, and well, I suppose that is true as well.
I truly believe that the ESL world has got it all wrong right now. I just don't understand the idea behind having a very little kid sit and talk one-on-one with a native speaker when that child doesn't even have the most basic level of English education yet. In these countries the initial classes should be done by someone who is a native of that country and later or perhaps once a week a native speaker should be brought in to refine what the students are doing. I just can't understand why they would do it any other way.
By the way, these online lessons pay us, the teachers, around $15 an hour and the company that hosts it obviously is making something on the side as well so I think it would be safe to assume that these families are paying $20 per 1 hour session to learn what I can only imagine is next to nothing and that is the craziest thing of all. Just buy Rosetta Stone and force your kid to sit in front of that for an hour a night instead. You'll be accomplishing the same thing.