Jennifer Lebedev, renowned ESL teacher and content creator, believes in remaining committed to better teaching.
Through her EDDIE award-winning blog , YouTube channel (where she has more than 200,000 subscribers), and conference presentations, Jennifer helps teachers around the world build and grow their professional skills. In her upcoming webinar on WizIQ on September 23, “Teacher Talk: Erasing Our Doubts and Strengthening Our Skills” hosted by Jason R. Levine (aka Fluency MC) , she will lead a discussion on the common inhibitions and fears faced by new teachers. Participants will be asked to share ideas on how to improve their teaching and will hear advice from veteran teachers. Jennifer will also examine the pros and cons of using so-called ‘teacher talk’ and modified language for instructional use.
In an interview with WizIQ, Jennifer talks about her teaching journey, the challenges that she faced in her initial years, and professional development for teachers.
How did you become an ESL teacher?
I was in Moscow doing my graduate work in Russian Studies when I decided to start teaching English. What began as a part-time job to help pay for groceries soon became a full-time passion.
Tell us more about your teaching experience.
Actually, I was first certified to teach Russian as a foreign language. Then while doing my graduate studies, my career path changed to EFL. In Russia I taught both privately and in the classroom. I worked with all ages. Once back in the U.S., I found work as an ESL teacher at an IEP in Boston. I taught group classes and took on administrative duties. I always loved to create my own materials, and after a few years I decided to leave my position at the IEP and focus on materials writing. That first book contract with Pearson was my bridge to a new path. I began to explore other ways to create instructional content, and so by 2007 I became JenniferESL on YouTube. My blog and website followed. I also experimented with live instruction via Skype. Now I am happy to build new classes on WizIQ as an extension of English with Jennifer.
You have done both online and traditional teaching. What are the common challenges faced by EFL teachers in both worlds? And how have you tackled them so far?
In any form of teaching, you need to connect with the students, explain things clearly, and provide the necessary guidance and resources to help students achieve their language goals. As teachers, we must make use of our presentation skills, organization skills, and people skills whether we are online or offline. So much of my instruction has been given via video over the past several years. This is truly different from face-to-face teaching. However, I find it has been possible to connect with my audience via my content and text interaction. I try to personalize my lessons and keep language contextualized in a meaningful way. I have also explored ways of making myself accessible: email, comment boards, forums, and even Skype calls with classrooms.
What is the main purpose behind your upcoming Teacher Talk session?
Professional support and professional growth. In this webinar, Jase and I will create a positive, welcoming atmosphere for teachers and tutors of English. This is about discovering the value of directed discussion with one’s peers. More specifically, we will identify some common doubts, talk about areas we can improve in, and discuss the pros and cons of using modified speech in our instruction. I hope participants will see the benefits of such a meeting and consider future courses with me for professional development.
What advice would you give to teachers who have just entered the profession?
My main advice is to teach from the heart and never stop learning. Come to the Teacher Talk webinar on September 23 on WizIQ and you’ll receive plenty of valuable advice from us and from other veteran teachers of English!
Join Jennifer Lebedev and Jason R. Levine aka Fluency MC, LIVE, for this special one-hour session, “Teacher Talk: Erasing Our Doubts and Strengthening Our Skills” on Sep 23 at 1 pm EST. A recording of the session will be available to all who join. Click here to enroll for free.