Conversations with ESL Teachers Part 2


I’m delighted to share an interview with Heather Naylor, another inspiring educator.

1. What is your definition of an effective Distance Learning teacher?

One who engages their student and develops a team-based relationship with their student so that the student is as involved in driving their learning as their teacher – an educated and confident learner is needed to do this.

2. How do you think technology has changed your life and work as an ESL teacher?

Being able to SHOW students things on Google images etc. is fabulous as well as finding online activities to supplement what we are doing together. It makes the experience more engaging and colourful. It also makes things more instantaneous and drives the increasing speed of the interactions. Skype enables staff to work from home just as easily as from the office which offers wonderful flexibility for both staff and learner. It also has driven the necessity to improve computer literacy in the sense of understanding the back end of computer functionality.

3. How have you been educating yourself?

By watching and listening to other staff and asking questions of staff who are engaged in areas I am not as confident in. Reading online material and always spending time on searching new online material. Attending PD focused on topics in which I am interested. Applying for new jobs and working across a variety of delivery modes.

4. Who are your role models and why?

Professionally I admire people who are ahead of me in their teaching and their technical expertise. I try to be more like them by improving myself in those areas.

5. If you had to start over in your profession, what would you do differently?

Very little. Saying that I would probably recommend being primary trained rather than secondary trained. I found secondary training too abstract which is not the best starting point with most second language learners. However, generally speaking, the changes to teaching and technology have come constantly over the years and doing something differently at the beginning makes very little difference after a few years in the job.

6. What challenges do you see for language teaching in the future (let’s say within the next 10 years)?

It seems to me that as a community we are going to split into the computer literate and those who are not. This will affect access to all sorts of things, not just language learning. The other issue is Government orientation towards language learning as an expense rather than a community investment. I am concerned that funding will be less available for fewer clients as time goes on. The shift of the AMEP to the Department of Industry signals this shift.


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