My name is Cynthia Varis and I come from South Africa. I have lived in Finland for over thirty years and am a mother of twins who are 23 years now. I have been teaching English at the Vantaa Adult Education Institute since 2005 and enjoy my job very much. English is the main official language in South Africa followed by Afrikaans.
For my conversation groups, I have transformed my teaching from teacher-centered arrangement to student-centered arrangement. Here, students also choose or suggest the topics close to their hearts and are of interest for them. We also do pair and small group work (think-pair-share) for allowing individual students to reflect their ideas and for sharing them with others, followed by the whole class discussions and report backs. Depending on the classroom set-up, I usually use a U-shape layout to observe and provide one-on-one help and also for creating a sense of equality within a group/class.
In my lower level courses (A1-A2) students want to learn forming simple sentences, new words and pronunciation. So, we do have some grammar exercises that students do at home and we go through them together in class whereby I can explain and correct their mistakes. We also do listening tasks for pronunciation and do also role-play tasks for practicing speech in different situations. I also give students tasks to read newspaper or articles for translation and from these they learn a lot of new words and grammar. So the main point is that students learn how to make simple understandable sentences and to understand what the others are saying to them.
Additionally, I would like to encourage new students to join my courses because we've got very friendly and stimulating students who always receive newcomers with open hearts and the teacher is just loveable and funny. We never have boring lessons at all. With the years that I have been teaching these groups, there is a lot of improvement that I as a teacher, have noticed. Even the for the shiest students, I'm so proud to see them participating actively in our lessons by asking questions and answering questions and also daring to speak and not being afraid of making mistakes. So very great improvement because of this environment that I create.
More importantly, students in my courses also have a good sense of humor and we've got very dynamic and easy-going atmosphere in our lessons.