Tuesday, July 24, 2007

English Teaching Tips from Sponge Bob Square Pants

Practical wisdom can be found in some of the most unexpected places. Today, wisdom bubbled up from a pineapple under the sea. I suddenly realized that everything you’d want to know about English language teaching for your EFL learners can be taught by Sponge Bob SquarePants and his friends. When you teach your young learners, secondary school, adult or university student classes, which of these characters are you most like?

Mr. Krabs:
This crustacean is focused on one thing and one thing only, making more and more and more money. Only a cartoon could actually have dollar signs drawn in his eyes. He thinks of no one, only how he can benefit. Is your teaching focused on you or on the learners? Are you providing guidance and practice or do you have blinders on, thinking only about how you can benefit or get through an English class session? If your classes are like a sales commercial, are teacher-centered or full of course book exercises, you just might teach English like Mr. Krabs.

The smallest creature in the sea is also one of the sneakiest. He’ll do anything and hurt anyone to steal someone else’s work (the Krabby Pattie secret formula). Write your own English class materials. Prepare your own lessons. Don’t be like Plankton. Don’t copy and paste someone else’s work, edit it, and try to pass it off as your own. You will be caught, and it just isn’t worth it. Take the same amount of effort and work on your own thoughts and ideas. Plankton never gets away with his schemes, either. He’s on Plan “Z” and is still pathetically failing at his attempts to steal the secret formula.

Sponge Bob’s best friend, the starfish, has a good heart, but isn't the brightest creature in the sea. Does your teaching make you sound like an expert? Are you providing valuable lessons or just pushing out from the book exercises and activities as fast as you can? Always double check for student interest and interaction. If you're challenged by limited experience or teaching skills and knowledge, start attending English language teaching (ELT) seminars and workshops to get new insights. Or slow down, get some good reference materials then read them before you start the next week’s classes. Consider going for some advanced training in ELT like a CELTA, or TEFL postgraduate studies.

Squidward is B-O-R-I-N-G. When teaching classes, are you a Squidward? Do you just give what’s “in the book” or are you finding a fun twist to make your classes more dynamic and keep learners willingly coming back for more? Take time to make your classes stand out from the many other dry, boring classes out there that your learners must attend by injecting your personality into your classes or just having some fun while teaching.

Sponge Bob:
This little guy always tries to do the right thing, and is a hard worker. He may not always end up getting the results he hoped for, but he bounces back and tackles his work with a renewed vigor. Sponge Bob works very hard, he's a good friend, he always thinks of others, and tries to have fun no matter what he is faced with. Hardworking, friendly Sponge Bob is the guy to be when teaching English classes.Although this is a sort of silly lesson in English as a foreign language teaching (EFL), I hope you'll remember the important messages our underwater cartoon friends have taught us.

1. Teach your classes to help your learners, not only with dollar signs (paycheck) on your mind.

2. Prepare your own classes. Don’t just copy others’ lessons or only “follow the book”.

3. Prepare your class lessons carefully, and provide valuable learning experiences.

4. Be interesting and dynamic in your teaching, not boring.

5. Be a “Sponge Bob”! Hard work and persistence genuinely pay off.

Follow these English teaching tips and before you know it, you'll develop a reputation for having informative and dynamic classes and you too will be a King or Queen of the sea.

*Article concept adapted from “Article Writing Tips from SpongeBob SquarePants” by Nicole Dean at EasyArticleMarketing.com

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