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Dee Matchett TESL 583 Practicum Fall 2013 01-18-2014

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to observe ESL instruction in numerous settings and to
have observed twelve different teachers. Because of the hours I spent working as an ELL assistant and
substitute teaching over the last two years, I have been blessed to acquire more classroom hours than
most graduate students. All these things together have given me a broad perspective from which to
expand and practice the art of teaching English as a second language.
The time I have spent both observing and substituting in the public school system has provided a
very realistic view of what working in that system would entail. It is a high stress job, but rewarding.
Working in public education also seems to be the most financially stable option available. I also enjoyed
the university setting, especially the challenge of helping students acquire the speaking and listening
aspect of acquiring a second language. Generally, school age children have already developed verbal
communication skills in English, what they lack is academic vocabulary, reading and composition skills.
The challenge comes in scaffolding the language to help them acquire the knowledge needed to perform
well scholastically. They need to be brought up to grade level, so they can learn core subjects.
On the other hand, teaching in the university setting seems more like giving students the
language key that unlocks the door blocking their L1 knowledge base from being used in the target
language. You arent necessarily trying to give them academic instruction, as in the public school setting.
Its more like giving them a tool to bridge from one language to the other. The more L2 skills they
acquire, the more information which they already have can be clearly communicated, both verbally and
in written form. Well developed L2 skills also aid their understanding when information is presented in
the second language. This process is intriguing. I have especially enjoyed the phonology aspect of
learning a language. Sometimes, I think language schools may be so focused on reading and writing
Dee Matchett TESL 583 Practicum Fall 2013 01-18-2014
instruction that pronunciation and intonation dont always get the attention deserved. Phonology
probably appeals to me because it is a new aspect of teaching for me. Ive taught grammar, reading and
composition before, which makes phonology seem more challenging.
I hope that the May term trip to Poland and the Czech Republic will round out my experiences
by adding an EFL setting for observation and teaching practice. That will give me exposure to all three
instructional settings. I dont anticipate teaching in a foreign country, but Im not closing the door to
that possibility either. It should be a valuable experience.
My practicum journal describes what Ive learned through this practicum in more detail.
To capsulate:
Students, especially beginners, need lots of repetition
Students, especially beginners, need grammar broken down into small elements
Cooperative learning in a group setting facilitates communication skills
Opportunities to communicate outside the classroom setting are essential
Learning happens best when the teachers primary role is to facilitate and allow
students to actively engage in the learning process
In this information age, many students are visual learners, giving them visual input
forms the connective pathway needed to retain new vocabulary

I feel confident that I will be a successful ESL instructor. Studying in the Masters TESL program
is providing me with excellent tools. Its a new subject to teach and different techniques are needed,
but teaching is something Ive always enjoyed and have been doing ever since I taught my first piano
student when I was in the 10th grade. My mind is always trying to figure out how to teach a lesson
Dee Matchett TESL 583 Practicum Fall 2013 01-18-2014
better. Planning lessons and creating activities for them is something I have always enjoyed. I am
accustomed to teaching in a small group setting or tutoring individually and assessing specific learning
needs. I hope to be able to extend those skills to a larger classroom setting. Years of homeschooling
taught me organizational skills that have already been beneficial to me as a student and will continue
to benefit me as a teacher. I am also looking forward to what I can learn from colleagues who will be
more experienced than I.
It feels good to have entered the home stretch and be nearing completion of this degree. It has
required an intense amount of focus and hard work with more awaiting, but I have felt my confidence
growing with the completion of each course. When I am finally working as a TESL instructor, what I have
gleaned from the practicum experience will be quite useful. I am looking forward to the opportunity of
having my own classroom and further developing my teaching skills.