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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Comparing teaching in Italy and teaching in America

One important difference between teaching abroad and teaching in America is the cultural difference as well as the language barrier. While teaching in Parma, the Italian students seem to be attentive towards my knowledge of American because it is exotic, unusual, and simply different. Many students seem intrigued by the lessons I teach because they have been about new and exciting subjects: my background and where I come from, Mount Rushmore, and Proms. Focusing on these cultural subjects has given me the opportunity to speak about topics that interest Italian middle school students. While culture has been a difference that produces positive outcomes, the language barrier has been a difference that produces more negative outcomes. For example, students may be interested in the subjects of my lessons, but they may clock out or stop listening because it is too difficult to understand my English speech. My CT is an important source of help in this regard because she helps translate for me when I present new words to the students.

Another difference between teaching abroad and teaching in America is the classroom schedule. School meets Monday through Saturday and ends earlier each day. Students stay in one classroom all day and the teachers move around to each class. This is backwards from the American school system because generally teachers stay in their classrooms and students move around. I’m not able to draw conclusions as to whether one schedule and format is better than another.

One similarity between both teaching experiences is the importance of public speaking; my experience here in Parma is good practice for public speaking back in America. While speaking English to students whose first language is Italian, I must constantly be cognizant of my pronunciation and speed of speech. I do my best to enunciate and pronounce clearly while speaking at a volume that is appropriate.

My ability to fully illustrate similarities and differences such as teaching style, for example, is negated by the fact that I have not yet observed an Italian teacher instructing the classroom. I only know how the students behave, and I find that their ability to pay attention and listen is very dependent on the teacher’s ability to practice good classroom management skills; therefore, the importance of classroom management is another similarity between teaching abroad and in America. I look forward to future opportunities in which I may observe my CT teaching, as I have one soon. For now, I am receiving good experience in teaching English as a second language.

1 comment:

  1. Kate, I think it is so great how much you have been able to share with your students about your own life back in the United States. That is one thing I wish I had done a little bit more of in Ecuador so I'm glad your teacher gave you the opportunity to talk about personal topics. I never would have thought about the issue you have been running into with having to speak more slowly in order that the students remain engaged and do not "check out" because they are too overwhelmed listening to English. It sounds like in addition to slowing down and emphasizing pronunciation, you probably have to put a lot more thought into the way you word things. Even if you never work in a classroom again in which all of the students speak English as a second language, this is definitely a good skill to have for when you are working with students who have trouble processing complex directions, whether it be because of behavioral issues or learning disabilities.


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