Teaching English is never easy, however, teaching English to speakers of other languages is especially a challenge. The purpose of this report is to point out ‘good’ ESOL teaching by observing a TESOL class. The class which I observed is Master of English (International) at Melbourne University Private (MUP). This report includes the backgrounds of teacher and learners, the type of the course and teaching schedule. Finally, the teaching methods in this lesson will be discussed.
In order to have a general understanding about this class, the teacher and students were interviewed. The information about their background and the course type are provided below.
1. Course and lesson background
Master of English (International) at MUP includes Graduate Certificate in English (6 months), Graduate Diploma in English (one year) and Master of English (two years). This course provides variety of programs for students to improve their English abilities as well as develop their communication skills. By the end of the course, the students are expected be using English confidently and professionally.
The class which I observed is Graduate Certificate, which consists one semester (16 weeks) and students have choice to do AECS1 (Advanced English communication skills one) or IELTS. The observation was conducted in AECS1 class, which was focused on business English.
2. Teacher Background
Amanda (pseudonym) is one of the lectures at MUP. She has her bachelor degree in Politics and English, diploma of Education, and Master of Applied Linguistics. Also, she had studied Method of TESOL at Monash before. Currently she is undertaking PhD of Education.
Moreover, she had a Graduate Certificate in Marketing and Management as well as Educational Business Management.
She is an experienced teacher since she has been teaching for more than 20 years. At the beginning, she taught Australian students English, geography and literature in public secondary schools for 6 years. However, she wanted to challenge herself and that is why she started to teach international students. She used to teach English in Japan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, and so on. During that time, she taught both ESP (English for Specific Purpose) and EAP (English for Academic Purpose). At the moment, she is focusing on General English, business English and academic English.
3. Learners Background
There are seven female students in the class. They were all interviewed by a questionnaire concerning about their personal information and backgrounds. The information is shown below:
Three students are Thai speakers
One is a Cantonese speakers (Hong Kong)
One is a Mandarin speakers (Taiwan)
One is Japanese speakers
One is Indonesian speakers
Their age are from
22 to 40
Their English level are
from IELTS 5.5 to
Most students have studied English since junior high school. Many students in this class learn English for academic purpose. One of them learns English for career demands. They plan either to complete this course (Master of English) or transfer to other universities doing Master degree. Apart from that, they all have high interests in learning English.
Expectation before class observation
I had some expectations of this lesson before I observed it. As we know that this lesson is focused on business communication, thus, I supposed that it would provide a great deal of information, which is related to improving business communication. The following points were my expectations of this class.
1. Teacher might have business background and experiences so that she could share her experiences with the students.
2. Business terms such as vocabulary and expression would be taught in the class.
3. The difference of business culture between different countries would be discussed, so students could gain general understanding about business culture in other countries.
4. Various activities and CLT could be used in this lesson.
5. Class materials would be various and associated with practical functions.
6. Teacher and students would interact well.
Date of observation: 5th of April
Time: 1pm ~ 3pm
Number of students: 7
Stage of course week: week 7 of one semester (16 weeks)
Syllabus: Based on Market Leader Course Book and Practice File
What the teacher does
What the students do
What is achieved by this stage?
1. Checking homework
Looks at Practice File and asks questions.
Ask questions refer to their errors.
Analysing of errors
2. Review of lecture
Explains the term of ‘business risk’.
Listen to the teacher.
Rethink about ‘risky businesses’.
3. Case study
Illustrates the case study, including explains the background and the task.
Read the case study and understand it.
Reading and analyzing information
4. Group discussion
Breaks the class into two groups and asks them to decide a best option.
Discuss with classmates and give their ideas and opinions.
Practice speaking and listening.
5. Small presentation (role play)
Ask questions after group presentation.
Make a brief presentation about their decision.
Answer teacher’s questions.
Sharing different ideas.
Concludes today’s lesson.
Understand what they have learned in this lesson.
Getting main points of today’s lesson.
Good ESOL teaching in this lesson
There are several aspects reflecting good ESOL teaching, including the positive body language of teacher, teacher’s understanding of students’ questions, and the positive interaction.
First of all, the teacher presented her enthusiasm by vivid body language. When she was talking, she usually walked around, used hand gesture as well as eye contact to catch students’ attention, so it enabled to concentrate on the teacher’s talking.
Secondly, the teaching of this lesson demonstrated understandable explanation. When the teacher emphasized vital business terms, she repeated pronunciation of them several times; this enabled students to pronounce accurately. Moreover, instead of merely explaining meaning of vocabulary, she gave many examples to illustrate it, so students could acquire clear understanding of language and comprehend how to use it.
Thirdly, the teacher paid attention to students’ demands. She often checked their understanding by asking them questions, so she could know which aspects are unfamiliar by students, and then she could illustrate more information about that. In addition, students had time to ask the teacher about the expressions that they did not know; consequently, students could put forward and solve their language problems in the class. Moreover, when students were not able to participate orally during group discussion, she led then to discuss and gave them ideas. As a result, she could comprehend students’ difficulties and assist them.
Finally, it is clear that the interaction between teacher and students was positive. The teacher encouraged students to give opinions and ask questions, so it benefited students to be more comfortable to talk and respond in the class.
The aspects which met my expectations and differed from them
1. Aspects which met my expectations.
In this lesson, there are several aspects which met my expectations.
First of all, it included various practical business terms. For example, business terms are a crucial part of this lesson, so the teacher emphasized them by repeating their pronunciation and giving clear explanations. It is quite helpful for students to memorize them and understand how to use them. Furthermore, the teacher has thorough comprehension about business, so she could illustrate ideas clearly and provide other ideas, which were not in the textbook.
Another aspect is that this lesson also consisted of various activities in different class stage, such as group discussion, listening practice and role play. Those activities provided diverse learning functions which reinforced different language skills. Group discussion is aimed at oral communication and getting ideas about the topic. Therefore, we can see that various activities are presented in this class and they enhanced active atmosphere in the class.
2. Aspects differed from my expectations
In spite of several aspects meeting my expectation, there are some
views differing from what I expected. The first different aspect is related to class materials. I supposed that various class materials would be used in the lesson, such as visual aids like videos; however, the text book guided class activities, so the teacher and students mainly followed the steps in the textbook. Although the textbook provided different kinds of activities, it was not enough for keeping students’ interests in learning business English. Also it is possible that students may get used to those activities in the book and lose their interest. Furthermore, another aspect that differed from my expectations is about cultural content. I expected that business culture in different countries would be compared as well as illustrated in this lesson. Nevertheless, this aspect was not presented in this lesson. But perhaps it would happen in another lesson.
Rethinking good ESOL teaching
After observing this class, I would like to highlight which aspect makes me rethink good ESOL teaching. Creating a delight class atmosphere is vital task for an English teacher. The responsibilities are not only to teach students but also to provide students with a pleasant environment for learning. Only when students feel comfortable in the class, they can obtain efficiently of learning English, because they are more confident to speak English and more integrated in the class. In addition, the attitude of an English teacher is absolutely significant in this issue, for teacher is the key of creating class atmosphere.
For instance, enthusiasm and humor of English teachers may motivate students to learn and talk in the class and can benefit them to overcome their obstacle in speaking English. This lesson is an excellent example of this; the teacher was humorous in the class so it can be seen that students enjoyed the teacher’s talking and were relaxed. When she asked students to discuss the task of case study, most of them were quite willing to share their ideas. It is therefore evident that positive class atmosphere can contribute to more productive lesson and I think it is essential for English teaching.
From what has been discussed above, we can see that the progress of an ESL class consists of several stages and have different learning functions. This class also reflected several aspects of good ESOL teaching. It demonstrated how the teacher interacted with students, and how a lesson is organized. Therefore, through this class observation, it benefits me to acquire understanding of ESOL teaching and provides me with different styles of teaching methods.