Name: Freda Chen
Trinity qualification: Teaching Young Learners Extension Certificate (TYLEC)
Freda Chen, who is a TYLEC qualified English teacher, talked to us about her experiences of learning and teaching English in Taiwan.
When Freda started taking classes in English at around 12, she had already familiarised herself with some vowel and consonant sounds in the English language.
“My very first step was learning the phonemic symbols, which helped me being able to read words by myself. However, it did not help with the language.”
The first few years of English studying at school were not plain sailing for Freda.
“Trying to understand the teacher’s talk was a challenge, and endless repetition of grammar rules and tests overwhelmed my first interest in English. This was the case until an inspiring teacher’s lesson, when I found out that English learning had many dimensions! Then I started to think that learning English was fun – I liked it!”
A passion sparked, Freda continued with her studies throughout the rest of her childhood, eventually getting the chance to attend LTTC’s English courses at the age of 20, but the teachers there provided her with a new challenge to overcome.
“For the first few weeks I was anxious because I didn’t understand everything I heard. To solve the problem, I tried very hard listening to radio programs in English and to grab all the chances to talk to the teachers! I learned from those experiences that trying is the best thing you can do.”
Not long after, Freda had her first few experiences of teaching in a kindergarten and an elementary school when she was 21.
“I still remember the very first class I gave when I tried to teach the students 26 letters in one period. You can imagine how shocked the students were - it didn't go well!
“So, I went to a training organization and that was the very first formal training in teaching English in an organized curriculum that I had. Since then, I know how important it is to continuously promote my development as a teacher.”
Freda taught English for several years after her initial training course, and she is now a public elementary school English teacher. She also became a teacher trainer herself in 2008, before some changes in pedagogy in Taiwan prompted her to return to her studies.
“Before CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) was introduced in Taiwan, most teachers focused on vocabulary and grammar. At first, I couldn’t see how students could handle new knowledge about content when they didn’t understand the language.”
“I decided to attend a British Council's training course sponsored by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan, and I was quite amazed by the trainer’s ideas and the teaching framework introduced on the course.”
Inspired by her experiences on the course, and encouraged by her tutors, Freda decided to take the plunge and get her TYLEC qualification, which had a big impact on the way she teaches and trains.
“After doing TYLEC, my lessons are more interesting and engaging, and my students participate interactively in the class. It's really amazing!”
“Now I have a very clear rationale in my lesson design. I know how to do a lesson plan and how I can design assessment tools which align to my goals, can check my teaching efficacy and if students have learned what I intended them to”
Freda also noticed changes in the way she trained teachers after she completed TYLEC.
“Over the course I was observed by two trainers, who gave me a framework for observation, so I know how to do observations and how to make feedback developmental and interactive.
“It's not just a one-way conversation. Instead, we should ask the teacher what they thought about the lesson, and what they think they need to adjust. That is much more rewarding for them as it gives them the chance to reflect deeply on their classroom approaches.”
We asked Freda if she had any advice for teachers considering a TYLEC qualification.
“There is one thing I always say in my training - a qualified teacher promises a qualified next generation.”
“It's more like an investment - a professional investment. If you want to invest in yourself, you can help our next generation a lot, and when you have those skills or you have those qualities, you will find a more fulfilled life in the future.”
“TYLEC is a promise of a better future. I appreciate what I have learned from TYLEC, and me, my students, my teachers in training and my schools continuously benefit from it.”