I met Dan Johnson at the University of Illinois where we both received our Masters’ degrees in TESL. After graduation, I went to Missouri and Dan went to Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, we’ve had some different post-grad experiences. I got in touch with him to hear about his life and work in the Middle East.
Unlike my previous interviews, which were in person, my interview with Dan was done over email. It starts off with a few general questions about teaching English and then gets into his experiences in Saudi Arabia later. You’ll find Dan to be an interesting, eloquent answerer of questions. I’m very appreciative of the time and effort he put into these answers and I think you will be too. Enjoy.
When you teach ESL, there are several barriers between you and your student. The obvious one is the language barrier. That’s not what I’m talking about here. The word “understand” in the title is not referring to understanding pronunciation, spelling, or grammar.
This post is about how ESL teachers often have difficulty understanding the motivations, attitudes, goals, and struggles of their students. I’m not trying to attack anyone, and these might not be true for everybody. But if you read one and say “oh shoot, that’s me!”, then you’ve got some things to think about.
This blog post is for both students taking the TOEFL and the teachers or tutors who are helping them.
I’ve never had to take the TOEFL myself (other than for “fun”), but I’ve tutored many students who have had the pleasure of taking this infamous test.
No matter what level a student is at, doing these things will help them improve their TOEFL iBT scores.