Volodymyr Nyemchyn – Teaching Portfolio

My Teaching Philosophy

Have you ever watched a magician pulling things out of a magic hat? It is fascinating to watch how an endless number of things appear from the tiny size of a hat. In many ways, a language teacher like a magician tries to elicit an infinite number of things already present but hidden in the mind of a learner by helping to bring them out in the form of a new language.

To master this process the teacher needs to process the knowledge of diverse methods of teaching present and used in the past as well as stay up-to-date with current theories of learning. The present era of digitization of teaching, access to infinite sources of information through the Internet, and Big Data allows us to see things that we could previously only guess and theorize about. All these things require the modern teacher constantly update his knowledge and teaching techniques.

A comprehensive understanding of human psychology and behavior at the different stages of development is crucial to the mastery of a teaching process and the achievement of teaching goals. The theories such as the zone of proximal development by Lev Vygotsky and the input hypothesis theory by Steven Krashen allow us to get a wider perspective on teaching curriculums, evaluate the present state of learners, and map their learning paths. The comprehension of diverse psychological factors such as intrinsic motivation helps a teacher to achieve learning goals.

The years spent being part of the international community of Auroville (https://auroville.org/) in South India where people from 59 nations, of all ages, social backgrounds, and cultures live together allowed me to learn firsthand about the interaction between people speaking a wide variety of different languages. As humans are still learning to see ourselves not divided by borders, nationalities, and languages. We are still looking for a way to share our similarities and diversity meaningfully and clearly. Helping to achieve these goals is one of the key tasks of a language teacher. These are the reasons that inspire and motivate me to teach the English language and work as a teacher.

Teaching Style

During the “Teach English Now” courses I learned a lot about different teaching approaches and immediately started to apply what I learned here. I liked most the direct and the communicative approaches. However, my teaching style greatly depends upon the age and needs of the students I teach. In different situations I chose one or another approach which suits best.

My wife and I are running private English academy in Korea. Our students are elementary, middle and high-school students. We are trying to balance the development of our learners by providing them equal opportunities for reading, listening, speaking and writing skills. For these reasons we utilize techniques that originated from different learning approaches. Our student programs to some degree correspond to their school curriculum. In the first grades of elementary school we have a lot of freedom in designing their learning programs. However, middle and high school students main goal is to get high score on their school examinations and our teaching curriculum inevitably reflects that. When I teach learners, I need to dynamically evaluate their moods, psychological states and tiredness of the body. Based on the state of the class I chose the appropriate learning approach which will produce the best results. For example, on Fridays our students usually have festive mood due to the approaching weekend – all their attention is focused on getting home early. For this reason, we give them independent work similar to reading approach which allows them to leave class as soon as they finish their assignment.

In one case we started to work with a group of very young learners, some of them were in the kindergarten and some in the first grade of elementary school. My approach was similar to TBR (total body response) where I was creating a number of commands in English and illustrated these commands with body movements, and then I asked my students to follow my commands. When students feel empowered to move other person by giving him observable vocal commands it greatly motivates them. In another case we had to teach group of students whose timetable did not allow them regular attendance. For this reason I created computer-facilitated class, where learners could follow their own study program at the time they could attend the academy. We use number of Tablet apps which are based on cognitive approach findings. Students can compete with each other through gamified language-learning experience and it keeps them engaged and motivated.  We also regularly allocate time for speaking practice. During speaking classes I utilize a combination of communicative, direct and affective humanistic approaches. Creating relaxed end friendly environment similar to affective-humanistic approach makes our students feel at home and lowers their affective filter. On some occasions we practice sentence drills which originate from audio-lingual approach, on another occasions we try to recreate dialogues which may occur in different life situations. In that case I use materials from direct or communicative approach. Choice of different real-life situations helps students to transfer the skills they gained in the classroom into their daily life and stay engaged during the entire session.

Teaching Techniques

The techniques I use during the lesson planning and in the actual classes are greatly depend on which learners I am going to teach. But there is a number of techniques which I use regardless the age or level of my learners which make meaning clear. Among them are body language and teachers talk. When I enter the class, I feel as if a very powerful lamp has been lit up inside of me. There is a state of vividness which energizes and helps to engage the students. Respect and positivity is my motto, sometimes it is particularly challenging especially during online sessions when the Internet connectivity interrupts the class. I always try to remain conscious of my facial expressions and the message I send to the students with face and body posture. I enjoy using my hands during teaching sessions and not afraid to look ridiculous, I can facilitate understanding with simple gestures of my hands – like showing with the moving fingers going upstairs or downstairs, or climbing the ladder, there are virtually thousands of ways I can apply my hands. My face is a great tool for the display of human emotions or psychological states – being frustrated, being jealous or excited… all that is so easy to convey regardless the language gap that learners could experience at this particular moment.

When I was teaching students in South Korea, I asked the other teacher to write the meaning of English words in Korean on the back of the cards I was planning to use as warm-up activity. I practiced reading and pronunciation with students and then asked them to guess English words by seeing Korean side of the cards. When I did reverse exercise by asking students to guess Korean meaning from English side of cards – they cheated me, because I could not read Korean! So eventually I had to learn Korean so they could not cheat me anymore. All children like to win, and we often play card-picking game. We all sit on the floor in a circle with bunch of cards in the middle, and the basic level of the game is when I say the word, and students need to find the card and pick it as fast as they can. At the second level I ask students Korean meaning of this word in addition, and if student fails, then his classmates have a chance to win this card by telling its meaning. At the more advanced levels I could say the sentence with the target word or describe the meaning without giving away the word itself. After all cards has been taken, students count their winnings. Winner could get snack, or go home early, or get sticker depending on their age and motivation. Also, I always try to use warm language and keep things conversational, this allows me to regularly check students understanding and ask questions. The use of technology allows me to use tablet screen for showing photos and images instead of printed materials – it is very convenient, whether you teach places around the town, jobs, activities, or tenses. And with Internet you can find anything you need for your lesson plan very quickly. On the more advanced levels the usage of image becomes more complex than just a vocabulary meaning, students learn to describe and infer things underlying the apparent image. From job description we could go to education or family background, etc.

Work in the private academy is very challenging due to the amount of hours teacher has to teach. For this reason, I use digital technology a lot in my classes. This helps to reduce teacher’s workload and to increase students independent practice. I aspire to keep 20/80 rule, where the most part of the time learners are engaged in group or individual practice. Previously we held lingo-phonic classes where I could discuss the context of the audio recording and check student’s understanding. However, it became extremely difficult with different time schedules – some students were not able to attend the after-school class due to other after-school programs. In addition to that the boys of young age have much more interest in socializing with each other than paying attention to the class. But with the same materials given on the tables, learners could focus their attention completely and produce much better results on paper.

Because I work in private language academy I don’t have to use summative assessment very often. Usually it happens only during the time of school examinations when we give students a lot of mockup tests so they would feel confident about their ability to pass the school examination. Most of my assessments are formative assessments that allow students to show their skill and for me to find the gaps in their learning.


Teaching Lesson Plans:

  1. Capstone 2: Module 1: Lesson 1: Reading/Writing Micro Teaching I
  2. Capstone 2: Module 1: Lesson 2: Reading/Writing Micro Teaching II
  3. Capstone 2: Module 2: Lesson 1: Listening/Speaking Lesson Plan with Technology I
  4. Capstone 2: Module 2: Lesson 2: Listening/Speaking Lesson Plan with Technology II
  5. Capstone 2: Module 3: Lesson 1: Grammar Micro Teaching
  6. Capstone 2: Module 3: Lesson 2: Pronunciation Micro Teaching
  7. Capstone 1: Pronunciation – Lesson Plan (TESOL)
  8. Capstone 1: Pronunciation – Lesson Plan (TESOL)
  9. Capstone 1: Pronunciation – Lesson Plan (TESOL)
  10. Capstone 1: Pronunciation – Lesson Plan (TESOL)

The Teacher’s Toolbox:

  1. Teaching Tip I
  2. Teaching Tip II