What Materials are Best for Teaching English to Teachers who Teach Children who Live in Very Difficult Circumstances?

by Rene
(Topeka, Kansas USA)

Question - I got my TESOL/TEFL certification in November. In July, I will be going on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic. I will teaching English to teachers at a school for children that live on a trash dump. This is a private school supported by donations from churches.

In the fall, the school will be starting a tech school to teach job skills to 14 - 18 olds. They will be learning small engine repair. They wanted someone to teach English because young people that know English have a better chance of getting a job after they learn a trade.

My question for you is what material do you recommend for me to use. As far as I know, the teachers don't know ANY English. I'm thinking about teaching phrases that would be useful when they meet the public. Yet I'm not sure I am on the right path.

If you have written material that you think would be what I need, please let me know. Also, they may have me to teach some elementary children. That doesn't concern me as much as what to teach to the teachers or to the older students.

AND, I want to know more about the school you teach at in Taiwan. I would like to know if there are any short term jobs available (1-3 months) for teaching English at your school or elsewhere in Taiwan that you know of. We host Asian college students in our home and know several students from Taiwan. We have been there twice in the last 5 years. Also I lived in Taiwan 50 years ago:)

Sorry this is so long. I am just so excited to find someone who has been teaching English and can point me in the right direction.


Answer - I think you have a challenging and interesting job teaching English in the Dominican Republic. You are probably only really going to learn the situation when you arrive, and I think making too many recommendations on materials or books may be wasted. However...

If I was going I'd take a couple of course books - not to use with the students, but to use as a guide when planning the course. You could check online and choose a few that appeal to you. Choose books for starters, beginners and perhaps pre-intermediate level students - no higher. I like the 'New Interchange' series, but not everyone likes it. You must choose books you feel comfortable with.

I would use the books as guides only. Having a 'course' you can adapt - which is what an English course book is - can save a lot of time. If you have your computer with you, you can search for ESL activities online. This website has hundreds, and there are other websites with lots of activities too.

When the course book teaches present simple, for example, as well as using some of the ideas from the book, you could also search for suitable ESL activities online for teaching this tense. Talking about habits, routines and hobbies, for example.

I don't think it will be enough to just teach useful phrases, although you can certainly do this too. Whatever you do, and whatever books/materials you take, I think you will end up adapting them a lot, or perhaps not using them as much as you may of thought.

Stories work well with children and adults, although they need to be different kinds of stories. With teenagers it's better to use real life stories. Learn about storytelling as applied to English language teaching. It's a great tool, and good fun for the teacher and the students.

I don't know what kind of facilities you will have, but I'd assume that they don't have many modern facilities (and if they do they may not always work).

If this is the case, you will need to plan classes that can be given orally - without the use of books (apart from your personal planning) or photocopies. If they have a CD player, this can help, but it is not essential. Some of my best classes have been without anything, apart from me, the students, and our imaginations.

As I mentioned above, if you have your computer with you, you can always download materials from the internet, as you need them. I do recommend you take a book on English Usage, such as Michael Swan's Practical English Usage This is the classic, and I still consult my well worn copy.

Teaching English in Taiwan

The school I used to own is no longer mine. I sold my share years ago. I now work at a university outside Taipei.

The problem is that almost no school will consider taking teachers on for short-term contracts. This is because of government regulations requiring teachers sign a one year contract, it's also because schools like to have stability for themselves (they will have to invest time in teaching teachers - usually) and for the children/students (who always get upset when there is a constant turnover of teachers).

It's probably worth checking TEFL.com and Dave's ESL Cafe regularly for new job listings. They sometimes have ads for temporary work - although most of the temporary TEFL work available is during the summer months.

Good luck with your new job, and let us know how it goes.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to TESOL Answers .