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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teaching in Saudi Arabia Part Six: Additional Advice and Concluding Comments

We ended our survey with an open question asking for additional comments and suggestions and received a number of revealing and informative comments:

“As much as my professional self would prefer to shy away from this practice, the students I taught responded to me the best when the lines of teacher and friend were slightly blurred. We don't need to, nor should we, ingratiate ourselves to them, but they will generally work harder when they feel a great deal of support and appreciation for their efforts, as well as a general concern for their personal and scholastic happiness.’’

 “Always teach and treat, all of your students with respect be firm but fair - the same rules apply in Saudi Arabia as elsewhere. Be realistic about their levels of motivation and don't expect their levels of participation to be as high as in other countries continuously try to ensure you have their interest by developing as many fun activities as the curriculum allows!’’

“Always have an open-mind. It can be very difficult, but students know when you are rejecting their ideals. Once they see you don't accept them, they will be difficult. That applies to all students around the world.’’

Concluding Comments

We found it a very useful and informative exercise to poll teachers at the end of a semester about their successes and suggestions for effective teaching strategies. We hope you feel the same. In summary, the responses indicate that standard TESOL and CELTA techniques for teaching and class management work well in Saudi Arabia, as they do elsewhere (kinesthetic and interactive activities, using additional realia and material in addition to the text, using a constant variety of activities and formats: group work, pair work, individual work, open class work). Some specific differences lie in the increased amount of time spent engaged in classroom management activities in Saudi Arabia compared to other countries (dealing with cell phone usage, attendance policies, chatting in class, participation issues) and the need for a wide variety of management tactics applied on a constant and ongoing basis. Another difference is the need for relationship building with students on an individual level. Other, universally accepted, professional teaching practices work well here too, including staying positive and enthusiastic, smiling and not losing your temper and treating the students and their culture(s) with respect. It is important to be friendly, professional and approachable. It is useful to be organized, use interactive activities and constantly changing types of activities and delivery methods for lessons.

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