Effective Eccentricity: Alternative Teaching Methods in Mexico

Effective Eccentricity
Alternative Teaching Methods in Mexico

Martin Hendrikx
by Martin Hendrikx 14,142 views

There are many different strategies and teaching methods that can be used as a teacher.

Teaching English however, can sometimes limit the ways in which you can present information to your students. Today I will talk to you about some eccentric methods which work especially well in México. The internet service and availability in México is top notch which allows for more options to utilize the internet as a teaching tool. You must be careful however, not to let your private students or classroom students figure out how to teach themselves English without a teacher, otherwise you will be out of a job. One of the great ways you can use the internet as a teaching tool is through Skype, and looking for interesting word games and activities which you can use in class. Lastly, my favorite alternative method to teach students is by using field trips as an excellent tool to bond with students, engage them and increase their eagerness to learn.

What Methods One Can Use Teaching English in Mexico and All Around the Globe

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    Skype is a great tool for teaching English to either private students or groups of students, especially overseas. One of the reasons this method is highly effective is because it allows a higher comfort level since they can learn from their own homes. When students are face to face with someone, they may be more reluctant to share ideas, especially in larger groups such as those in the classroom setting. You can use Skype to initiate and moderate conversations if you are teaching a group of people or for a single student. You can also use Skype to practice conversational skills while using the internet to look for interesting topics for discussion. You can also have your students research articles or websites involving topics that they want to talk about beforehand (in English) and have them send it to you and any other students for each session. This will ensure that everyone is prepared for the conversation, and if they aren’t, they always have the option to open it alongside their Skype window. They also will be able to use the translate feature in their web browser to help them to better understand any vocabulary or concepts while others are reading. This option must be used cautiously since it is possible the student(s) may become too reliant on the translate feature. Skype also engages teens and young adults who already use the program as a social tool since they are familiar with the program and can help explain it to other students that may not be as technologically savvy. You may be wondering how you would benefit as the teacher and get paid though. Don’t worry; there are always methods to ensure compensation. You can meet with the group in person and collect money or you can use an online service such as PayPal.

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    There are many websites with games that you can download in order to help your students better understand the topics of each lesson and practice using new vocabulary. You can also encourage your students to play these games on their own. They are great for both beginners and for more advanced students. I will provide you with three of my favorite websites. The first one is http://www.esolhelp.com/esl-games.html which has games related to grammar, vocabulary, spelling, word search and much more. This site is great if you have intermediate level students. The games are very simple and don’t require high speed internet or high end graphics to play, which is helpful in areas that may not have high speed internet access. The second site I enjoy using to teach students and assign what I like to call “gamework,” is http://www.cosmeo.com/bysubject.cfm?english. It is supported by the Discovery Channel and has many games for children as well as beginning English students. It has games related to almost every single aspect of the English language, from nouns and verbs, to more complicated concepts such as tenses and syntax. The last site is the one I use most often to make learning fun for the students. It is http://www.eslgamesworld.com/. In my opinion this is the best site because they have both games that you can play online as well as many resources for downloadable games you can play in class in Microsoft Word, PDF as well as Power Point format.

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    Field Trips

    Field trips are an excellent way to get your more mature students (typically 16 and up) to become more engaged in their learning. This type or teaching method is ideal when you have a class of 3-10 people so you are not overburdened. In México there are many places where you can go including cenotes, Mayan ruins, anthropology museums, art galleries, historical buildings, and cathedrals. When you arrange a field trip to one of these places, you must make sure that the majority of the class has never been there. This is to ensure that the students experience something new. The best way to get them to learn when they are at the site is to assign them reading homework in both Spanish and English in order for them to have a basic knowledge of the destination. When you get on the bus or when you meet at the sites, you set out one rule, which would be that no one is allowed to speak Spanish among themselves or the staff at the sites. What you can do at museums and galleries, is have them read the signs that are posted in Spanish and translate them to English for the group and ensure that everyone takes a turn.

    Another exercise I utilize for tours is to request a tour guide who speaks English in order to practice listening to the language. It is important that the guide speak slowly and clearly, however it may still be necessary to translate more difficult words and concepts. One of the places I enjoy most in Mérida is a Mayan site called Dzibilchaltun because it is not very far from the city and you receive special group rates for students. Each sign is also posted in English, Spanish and Yucatec Maya so that all visitors can fully appreciate the history of the site. They Students can practice reading in English while still having the Spanish translation; you can walk around through the site while giving your lesson, then swim in the icy cold cenote. After the site tour, you then move on to the museum where they can learn more about their culture and also do translation from the many signs posted on the displays.

Teachers often use the same material and the same methods to teach for years on end.

After a while, it becomes outdated and students no longer relate to the information because the teacher is unwilling to adapt. You must always try to come up with new and innovative ways to present the same information to your students and that’s why I think that these three methods will help boost proficiency and make learning fun for the students. It is important to remember the huge role technology plays in today’s world and to incorporate new programs and equipment into your classes. Skype is ideal for giving lessons from home and it will help your students to feel more at ease since they can do it from the comfort of their own home. It is also convenient for you since you do not need to leave your home to conduct the lesson. Online video games are a great tool for beginners and children since it keeps them active and involved in the lesson. You can also download many tools and teaching aids to give you an edge in the classroom and help you stand out. Lastly, field trips, in my opinion are highly underrated and should be used more often as a teaching tool. You must remember not to coordinate a group larger than you can handle; otherwise you will give yourself too much work and there won’t be enough time to give each student the appropriate attention to maximize their learning potential.

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