Teaching English in an international setting has always seemed very appealing to me. Ever since I began taking Spanish and discovering how cool it can be to communicate with another individual in a foreign tongue, I have been quite excited about sharing this passion in a formal setting. Often times I go over how I would accomplish teaching English to a non-native speaker most affectively in my head. During this process I have taken many factors into account. However, one factor I never thought much about was “Teaching Culture”.
In other words, not every country in the world places the same importance on all the same areas as we do here in the states. In fact, in Russia the “teaching culture” is much different, consequently, making it very difficult for native English speakers to effectively communicate their understanding of the language to an audience that has been conditioned in a very different manner. In an article on “The Internet TESL Journal” entitled “How Native English Speakers Can Be Better English Teachers in Russia” it discusses the cultural differences in how Russians view education vs. ow Americans view education, and the role educators play in society and what is expected of them. By better understanding ones culture it will only improve our ability to relay our knowledge. In Russia there are three very important parts in which teachers should be aware of when teaching. They are; the organization of the lesson, the expectations of learners (and of their parents) about the teaching ways deemed as relevant as well as the teachers professional beliefs.
Listed after these three categories there is a detailed explanation of what the expectations from these categories are. A few keynotes that I found interesting are; a lesson is usually result-oriented and it is the result, which is considered primary, not the activity, which may be very motivating and activating for the learners. At the end of the lesson, each learner usually gets a mark on a five-point scale with a detailed comment from the teacher.
It is interesting that in every lesson in the Russian classroom there is some sort of an assessment or evaluation for the individuals, giving more incentive to try hard day in and day out. I feel this can be good in some aspects but certainly has its drawbacks in others. Teachers in Russia are expected to be strict towards the class but kind towards individuals. I think this seems incredibly affective. It seems like it would promote order in an environment with large numbers of people, while still promoting positive teacher-student relationships in a one on one more personal setting.
One interesting note I saw stated under Russian teachers’ professional beliefs is that the general attitude should be error-intolerant or else the learners will never get rid of the mistakes in their speech. I strongly disagree with this way of thinking. It seems this would also promote one to be very gun shy with their speaking. We do not want to discourage kids from taking chances in their learning. By learning from our mistakes we become more proficient speakers.
This is not to say I don’t advocate correcting them or letting them know there was an error, but being error-intolerant seems a bit harsh. All in all I found the article to be incredibly interesting, for the Russian culture has always been of great interest to me and this furthered my understanding of the culture specific to Russia as well as made me aware that no matter where I desire to teach, understanding the teaching style as well as beliefs of the nation should be something I investigate with much fervor.
http://iteslj. org/Articles/Millrood-TeachersInRussia. html