My very own Teaching Philosophy



Before anyone attempts to enter the ESL/EFL classroom as an instructor, they must have an awareness of their own teaching philosophy. This philosophy will give the ESL/EFL teacher a series of guidelines which they can use to effectively teach their class. As an English as a Second Language teacher, I have had to develop my own philosophy. This particular teaching approach, although certainly not set in stone, was developed over two years of ESL/EFL classroom experience in Istanbul, Turkey and a year of participating in classes and projects of the MA TESL program at California State University at Los Angeles. Upon finishing my tenure in Istanbul, I thought that I had established a pretty solid teaching philosophy. This philosophy was based partially on a combination of the Grammar Translation method, TPR, and subsequent communicative activities, which I believed would help the students with their overall knowledge and use of the English language. I was of the opinion that if I brought a tremendous amount of energy to the class and taught using a combination of these three methods, I would be an effective EFL teacher.

While this appeared to be the case in Istanbul, I began to change my opinions concerning my teaching philosophy as I navigated my way through the MA TESL program. The exposure to the research and reading required to complete the program has caused me to question many of my beliefs concerning how one should approach an ESL/EFL classroom. It is this questioning that has become the core of my teaching philosophy. It is my conviction that ESL/EFL professionals need to constantly query how and what they are teaching. By tackling their classes with this mindset, teachers will become aware of all the pitfalls and successes associated with teaching English as a Second Language. Teachers can then use this awareness to pick and choose the proper way in to teach their classes.

Along with this questioning philosophy, ESL/EFL teachers must also be aware of what I have termed the three E’s. The first E is Energy. By bringing a high energy level to the classroom everyday, teachers will impress upon their students how important the subject material is to them. This outpouring of energy will also give the students cause to become motivated, a factor which cannot help but improve the classroom dynamics. The second E is Empathy. This will help the ESL/EFL professional recognize the needs and concerns of his or her students. A high level of empathy will help cultivate an atmosphere in which the student feels comfortable. By doing so, the instructor will help lower their student’s affective filters and allow for the acquisition of English to flow smoothly. The last E is Expand. Teachers, as well as students, must constantly strive to expand their knowledge of the subject material. Although this may appear obvious, many times both teachers and students become satisfied with their abilities and refuse to grow. When this occurs, the class tends to become stagnant and monotonous.

It is vitally important for the ESL/EFL professional to have a teaching philosophy. However, even more important then this is that teachers need to be amendable enough to tweak and change their approach as the situation dictates. By remaining flexible, teachers give their students the best chance to learn English. By continuing to learn and grow in the ESL/EFL world, teachers will always be prepared for whatever might arise in their classrooms.

As stated above, a flexible teaching philosophy can be quite advantageous to the ESL/EFL professional. However, a teacher should also be well versed in the research of second language acquisition in order to understand the underpinnings of their own philosophy. In the following segment entitled "Working Bibliography", you will find a working list of references which I have been using in my own research as a MA TESOL candidate at California State University, Los Angeles. As you scroll through the list be aware that I have created links (highlighted in yellow) to information and websites concerning some of these authors.  Enjoy and please feel free to email me. Just click on the rotating email icon.

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Working Bibliography

                Amin, N. (1997). Race and Identity of the nonnative ESL Teacher. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 580-583.

Auerbach, E.R. (1993). Reexamining English Only in the ESL Classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 27, 9-32.

Brutt-Griffler, J, & Samimy K.K. (1999). Revisiting the colonial in the postcolonial: Critical praxis for nonnative English-speaking teachers in a TESOL program. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 413-432.

Burgess, A. (1962). A Clockwork Orange. New York: The Modern Library.

Cook, V. (1999). Going Beyond the Native Speaker in Language Teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 185-205.

Cook, V. (2000) The Author Responds…. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 320-332.

Crookes, Graham (1998). Aspects of Process in an ESL Critical Pedagogy Teacher. TESOL Quarterly, 32, 319-28.

Crookes, Graham, & Ewald, Jennifer (1999). Comments on Graham Crookes and Al Lehner’s “Aspects of process in an ESL Critical pedagogy Teacher Education Course: A Plea for Published Reports on the Application of a Critical Pedagogy to Language Study Proper” [&] An Author Responds. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 275-85.

Crookes, Graham, & Michael, Paul (2001). Introducing Action Research into the Education of Post-Secondary Foreign Language Teachers. Foreign Language Teachers, 33, 131-140.

Edwards, E.E., Thomas, M.D., Rosenfeld, P, & Booth-Kewley, S.. (1997) How to Conduct Organizational Surveys: A Step by Step Guide. London: SAGE Publications.

Freeman, Donald, & Johnson, Karen (1998). Reconceptualizing the Knowledge Base of Language Teacher Education. TESOL Quarterly, 32, 397-417.

Hancock, Mark. (1997). Behind Classroom Code Switching: Layering and Language choice in L1 Learner Interaction. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 217-

Johnson, Karen. Teacher Education: Case Studies in TESOL Practice series. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

Johnson, Karen (1995). Understanding Communication in Second language Classrooms. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, Karen. (1999). Understanding Language teaching: Reasoning in Action. Boston and London: Heinle and Heinle. 235.

Kachru, B.B. and Nelson, L.L. (1996) World English’s. Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching, 15, 71-102.

Kobayashi, Toshihiko (1992). Native & Nonnative Reactions to ESL Compositions. TESOL Quarterly, 22, 81-112.

Liu, J. (1999). Nonnative-English-Speaking-professionals. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 85-102.

McCargar, D. (1993). Teacher and Student Role Expectations: Cross-Cultural Differences and Implications. The Modern Language Journal, 77, 192-207.

Medgyes, P. (1992). Native or nonnative: Who’s worth more?. ELT Journal, 46, 340-349.

Medgyes, P. (1986). Queries from a communicative teacher. ELT Journal, 40, 107-112.

Milambiling, J. (2000). Comments on Vivian Cook’s “Going Beyond the Native Speaker in Language Teaching”: How Nonnative Speakers as Teachers Fit into the Equation. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 324-327.

Nayar, P. Bhaskaran (1997). ESL/EFL Dichotomy Today: Language Politics or Pragmatics?. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 9-37.

Reves, Thea, & Peter Medgeyes (1994). The Non-Native English Speaking EFL/ESL Teacher’s Self-Image: An International Survey. System, 22, 353-367.

Short, Deborah, & Echevarria, Jane (1999) The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol: A Tool for Teacher-Researcher Collaboration and Professional Development (Report No. EDO-FL-99-09). District of Columbia: ERIC Digest. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED-99-CO-0008)

Tang, Cecilia (1997). On the Power & Status of Non-Native ESL Teachers. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 577-580.

Theil, Teresa (1999). Reflections on Critical Incidents. Prospect, 14, 44-52.

Wilson, M. (2001) The Changing Discourse of Language Study. English Journal, March, 31-36.