Sheila Corwin, from California (USA), has more than 25 years of experience working with English language learners along with new and already practicing language (and other) teachers from all over the world. She lives in Italy where she leads the Weekend TEFL in Florence course. Sheila holds a Master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) along with a Doctorate degree in Educational Psychology. Enjoy!
Can you tell me a little about yourself? Where are you from? Have you ever lived in another country before?
I was born in Southern California but grew up during my teenage years and early adult life just north of the great city of San Francisco in the state of California, USA. I lived in small towns between the famous Wine Country of Napa Valley and the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. I lived for a year in the State of Oaxaca (southern), Mexico for one year where I taught at a university with other French, English, and Mexican teachers. I also lived in Montpellier, France while I was studying the French language. I love this quote:
“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” (Phil Collins)
Why did you become a teacher? What’s your motivation for teaching?
I became a teacher because I love being in the classroom. I always felt at home in the classroom and loved attending school. I was also inspired by the diversity of my classmates and learning things on a deeper level. I also like to observe. I am motivated to teach at Europass because I really enjoy meeting teachers from different countries and cultures and facilitating shared experiences with them in a very student-centered way.
How do you make sure your students understand you? What are the key qualities and skills that students look for in teachers?
I repeat myself or provide examples. I also try to provide short, clear, and concise explanations. In my opinion, students look for teachers who engage (not entertain) them, those that are good listeners, and those that fulfill their personal needs for what they desire to learn.
What are the major challenges for Europass teachers?
I think one major challenge has to do with students who come to our courses who speak various levels of English (although I think we have learned how to manage this challenge very successfully).
Since you are also an English language teacher trainer, what advice do you have for English teachers who want to teach English in Italy?
It would be best for them to complete a certification in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). The certification is worth its weight in gold, especially when competing for jobs with others who already have teaching experience or with those who have no teaching experience, but are already hold a certificate. In addition, because of the over abundance of English language teachers in some Italian cities, many private language schools won’t even consider hiring someone without a TEFL qualification. The Weekend TEFL Certificate and the other language teaching certificates offered at the Europass Teacher Academy can provide new and already experience language teachers everything they need to succeed in their classrooms..
What do you think of technology in the classroom and how have you integrated it into your lessons?
I am not as good at technology as I would like to be, but there is always someone to help out when there is a glitch. I have integrated technology into my lessons by putting all of the courses I teach into PowerPoint Presentations using stimulating visuals. I also incorporate a variety of appropriate and relevant short videos about teaching which are related to course content.