I am a Swedish speaking Finn, and a fully qualified teacher of English and German since 1993. I say “fully qualified” because I did quite a lot of teaching even before getting my official teaching training. That one year at the Faculty of Education at Åbo Akademi University did, however, have an immense impact on my view of what language teaching is all about. Before that I had a vague notion of teaching consisting of a rigid set of rules and actitivies that you can tick off one after the other and that all you needed were that list of rules as well as a really good competency in the language you’re supposed to teach.
Well, all that changed. Suddenly a whole world of possibilities and tools opened up and I realized that you can do practically anything as long as you keep to your learning objectives or goals set for each lesson and activate the students as much as possible, whereas the teacher cuts down on his time in the limelight. Of course, you need to know as much as possible about the language, too, but the really important thing is the specified learning goals and then planning your building steps for the students to get there. It was an exhilarating epiphany for me, and ever since I have tried to live my professional life according to that vision. So, no rules as to how this and that “should” be done, but always asking myself “What do the students need?” in order to do each activity and then provide them with tasks to learn that.
This means that I started concentrating on student centered teaching very early on, and this again led me to the possibilities that technology and computers might offer here. During my teacher training in the early 90s I had come into contact with the CALL software then on the market, and I was particularly impressed by Wida Software. I struggled a long time with the problem of sound and video, which were all provided on tape back then, and therefore not so easily transferred into a digital environment. But eventually I succeeded in finding a relatively easy though very time consuming method of digitalising all the cassette recordings as well as all the texts involved in my teaching material.
Over the years, I have stayed on this course. I can’t say I have made my professional life an easy one, because of all the time I’ve invested in the preparation of lessons, but I can certainly say it has given me at least as much as it has taken, in the form of student progress and student satisfaction. It all seems worthwhile when one can see students getting into a state of flow while working to solve the language “puzzles” or problems in front of them. That’s what teaching is all about for me – to find new ways, to challenge the students’ curiosity, to motivate learning by surprising them with new takes on activities they have probably done, if not hundreds, then at least dozens of time before. Because language learning is down to a few basic competencies, after all, ie. text comprehension, listening comprehension, oral expression, vocabulary and grammar – but the journeys to those destinations can be varied ad infinitum.
On a more personal note, I have a passion for photography, TV-series marathons, knitting, travelling as well as reading, and those subjects will most probably come up in the Personal section of this blog/homepage. And as I recently, on June 27th, earned the proud title of “Grandma” for the very first time through the birth of Tobias, I suspect he might also appear here at times.