Glenn Steven's IBLI site
Educational / Professional Background
Pre-TEFL: Although American born, I grew up in various parts of the world - mainly in the Middle East. I spent the majority of my childhood and pre-college education in the Sultanate of Oman. I include this under the 'educational' section of this site as the experiences I had living and travelling abroad throughout my upbringing taught me and made me who I am just as much as anything I ever did academically. After receiving a Bachelor's of Arts in Geography from San Francisco State University in 2004, with an emphasis in Techniques of Geographic Analysis - I completed an intensive certification in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) from the International Teacher's Training Organization (ITTO) in Guadalajara, Mexico.
TEFL & beyond: The TEFL certification course at ITTO worked in collaboration with a nearby language institute, IMAC Ingles, in which teachers in training were put on the spot to plan, deliver and then reflect on fully-observed classes. This gave me my first working-experience in teaching English as a foreign language. I got my first break as a language instructor at the ELS Center in Abu Dhabi. I spent two years at the ELS working on a variety of projects that included teaching general English to students of mixed nationalities, ethnicities, ages and professional backgrounds. I was then awarded with a contract (through ELS) teaching technical English for the oil and gas industry at the GASCO Technical Training Center out at the GASCO Habshan-Bab Natural Gas Processing Plant. After over a year out in the oilfields, I decided to return to Abu Dhabi where I currently reside, working for the UAE Academy. I am now delivering vocational training courses, teaching English to employees at the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority.
With this have being my final semester, I will have completed my Masters in TESOL at the University of Southern Queensland by the middle of November, 2008.
My teaching philosophy as that languages are not taught, they are learnt. It is therefore the duty of the language instructor to take on the role as a facilitator to the language learning process rather than a 'teacher'. My classes are always well organized and planned with a clear objective being met at the end of each lesson. I did my initial training as a teacher using the communicative approach to language learning and I utilize many of the theories acquired from that. However, I believe an integrated syllabus, in which functional and topical English tasks are incorporated with grammatical and lexical themes is the best form of English language-teaching curriculum. I would say that I mostly take a constructivist, communicative and collaborative approach to language learning.
In terms of computer assisted language learning and Internet-based language-instruction, I believe that computers are tools that should be naturally implemented within the language education curriculum. While computers should not be seen as a replacement for traditional language teaching methods or natural face-to-face conversation, I believe that the computers flexibility and endless amount of functions make it a valuable instrument to be used as an additional gizmo to facilitate language learning. Computer-mediated-communication has been found to have many added benefits to face-to-face communication, such as recorded transcripts, delayed response, links to online resources, etc. As long as the communication is being conducted in the target language, I would strongly encourage students to engage in various forms of computer-mediated communication, be it synchronous - in the shape of instant messaging, or asynchronous - maintaining a blog or social networking site portfolio.
Throughout the MA program at the University of Southern Queensland, I have taken courses in the Nature of Language, Principles of Second Language Learning, Methodology in Teaching a 2nd Language, Language Testing, Syllabus Design & Material Writing, Discourse Analysis, Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Internet-Based Language Instruction.
In computer-assisted language learning, and especially Internet-Based language instruction, I am especially interested in the nature of computer-mediated-communication and what types of effects it may have on language learning. In doing research for projects in this MA, I developed a keen interest in language learning opportunities within a 3-D multi-user virtual reality social space. I was fascinated at the prospect of an online, real-time 3-D virtual reality classroom being taught by a live teacher at a computer with a microphone and headset somewhere that one could just plug themselves in and out of with the click of a mouse. I was able to sit in to and observe such classes and was invited to Gavin Dudney's E-consultants-sponsored annual SLanguages Virtual Conference on Second Life in early 2008 in doing research for papers on language education in a multi-user virtual-environment, using Second Life as a case study.