My Teaching Philosophy
I was born in Angola which was a Portuguese colony at that time. My family was middle class and we had a number of local African servants. Some were teenagers and none of them had any schooling.
When I started school in grade one, I wanted to share my little knowledge with my friends, therefore every night after dinner I would run to the kitchen and they would gather around the table, me with my exercise book and them with papers and pencils we would share what I had learned. It was the highlight of my day.
This experience marked me profoundly, I need to teach, it is an overriding necessity. Now, I’m 55 years, and I’m a successful businessman with a good income, but I joined a local school where I teach.
When teaching English, my initial goal for the students is to increase their vocabulary and learn sentence structure, for the first months I don’t correct grammar mistakes, I want them to lose language inhibition, later on, after this initial period, I start to help them with grammar. To interest my students and have them motivated I use debates with themes that are current and interest them in terms of age and locality.
I teach at a University here in the East of Africa, between Ethiopia and Somaliland, although my main fields are Online Entrepreneurship and Digital Marketing, I also teach English, for advanced conversation, so obviously my teaching method or style is based on the Communicative Approach, but I go a bit further and use the Dogme methodology, known for encouraging teaching without published textbooks and focuses instead on conversational communication among learners and teacher. Notwithstanding this fact, I’m not a purist so I try to follow the lesson plan organized by the department.
What I do is to encourage my students to debate or argue on issues that are relevant to the place and time, for example, we had a debate last week on how Islam views feminism. My class is made up of 60% male and 40% female and it created a lively debate between the groups I set up, so although I teach, to my students I give them as much freedom to express themselves as possible. I don’t think I stick to the 80 (practice)/20 (teaching rule), I think it is more 95/5. This of course is because they are mostly already advanced students.
I think the motivation that I give my students is that they discuss important issues which because of their culture are not spoken freely and that they have this opportunity to discuss in a safe place and a neutral voice, which is helpful to them.
My system of teaching is rather different from the other teachers in the sense that they call me by my first name and sometimes about once a month we go to a cafeteria or a museum for a break, this really helps communication and informality.
As I said I try to follow the lesson plan so if the lesson for that week is about mental health, I would start by briefly explain about the lesson, then I would mention a personal story of mental health issue, in my family, even if I have to make it up and from there encourage my students to open up and talk about their own stories.
Assessment is based on personal interaction and communication with others. I’m not a big fan of tests or exams.