My Teaching Philosophy
Having been born in Angola during its time as a Portuguese colony, my upbringing in a middle-class family exposed me to the realities of social inequities. Growing up alongside African servants, many of whom lacked formal education, left a profound impact on me. It instilled in me a deep-rooted desire to share knowledge and teach others. Today, at the age of 55, despite enjoying a successful career as a businessman with a comfortable income, I have chosen to dedicate my time to teaching at a local school.
When instructing my students in English, my initial objective is to expand their vocabulary and develop their understanding of sentence structure. During the initial months, I refrain from correcting grammar mistakes deliberately. Instead, I aim to create an environment where my students can overcome their inhibitions about using the language freely. Once this foundation is established, I gradually introduce grammar concepts and provide assistance accordingly. To sustain their interest and motivation, I employ debates that revolve around current topics that are relevant and engaging to their age group and locality.
I am currently a teacher at a university situated between Ethiopia and Somaliland in East Africa. While my primary areas of expertise lie in Online Entrepreneurship and Digital Marketing, I also teach English for advanced conversation. Consequently, my teaching method is predominantly based on the Communicative Approach. However, I go a step further and incorporate elements of the Dogme methodology, which encourages teaching without relying on published textbooks and instead emphasizes conversational communication among learners and the teacher. Nevertheless, I do not strictly adhere to this approach, as I strive to align my teaching with the department’s lesson plans.
My approach involves fostering an environment where students are encouraged to engage in debates and discussions on subjects that are pertinent to their time and place. For instance, we recently had a lively debate on how Islam views feminism. Given that my class consists of 60% male and 40% female students, this topic generated spirited discussions within the groups I formed. Although I guide and instruct my students, I also provide them with ample freedom to express themselves. In terms of practice versus teaching, I believe that the ratio leans more towards 95% practice and 5% instruction, considering the advanced level of most of my students.
Motivating my students stems from providing them with a platform to openly discuss important issues that may be considered taboo within their cultural context. I strive to create a safe and neutral space where they can freely express their opinions. By doing so, I hope to empower them and enable them to broaden their perspectives.
My teaching style diverges from the conventional norms observed by other teachers. My students address me by my first name, fostering a sense of informality and promoting open communication. Additionally, approximately once a month, we take breaks together, either by visiting a cafeteria or a museum. These outings further enhance our communication and foster a more relaxed learning atmosphere.
While I strive to adhere to the lesson plans provided, I also inject personal anecdotes to contextualize the topics being taught. For example, if the lesson for the week revolves around mental health, I would begin by briefly explaining the subject and then share a personal story related to mental health within my own family. If necessary, I would even fabricate such a story. From there, I encourage my students to open up and share their own experiences, creating an environment of trust and understanding.
In terms of assessment, I place greater emphasis on personal interaction and communication skills rather than relying heavily on tests or exams.