It’s what Babatunji Ifarinu calls that feeling you get when you know vocabulary words in another language but can’t seem to form practical sentences.
“The definitions may be in their memories, but when it’s time to use the concepts in context, they may not be able to get it out,” Babatunji told a class of TESOL students during his recent guest lecture. “When you’re teaching, always introduce and use words in context with relevant subjects, photos or illustration.”
Context is important when it comes to teaching English — or any language for that matter.
That’s why, after more than a decade of teaching in Georgia public schools where he also worked with English as a Second Language students, Babatunji developed his “S.W.I.R.L.” workshop.
S.W.I.R.L. stands for Speaking, Writing, Illustrating, Reading and Listening, and it was the subject of his presentation here at KSU Center. Babatunji shared practical strategies to show how to incorporate each of those five learning aspects into a lesson to strengthen a student’s understanding of the material.
Babatunji said he has worked with students from nearly a dozen different language backgrounds, many with limited exposure to English. He has also started learning a second language, Yoruba, spoken in Nigeria, so he knows firsthand the challenges associated with language learning.
For those who want to work in the TESOL field, he recommends doing plenty of research, reflection and always being willing to learn.
“The learning process is a two-way street,” he said. “There is so much to learn from diverse students. Learning how to greet students in their language and how to say ‘Do you understand?’ or other phrases in their language will help to build rapport and facilitate an environment where it is safe for everyone to make mistakes.”
Babatunji Ifarinu is the English Language Learners Success Facilitator for DeKalb County Schools. He is one of many guest speakers our TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate program has hosted in class.
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