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ESL Teacher Paul Doyon » About Paul: My Experience & Philosophy

About Paul: My Experience & Philosophy

Hi Everyone,
My name is Paul Doyon. While I have only been teaching with CACE since February, I have actually been teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL) for approximately 29 years. I lived abroad for 25 years and taught EFL and ESL in a total of six different countries -- Japan, Australia, China, India, Thailand, and Chile -- before returning to the United States about four years ago. I have a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). I also have a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology and an Master of Arts (MA) in Japanese Studies.
I have taught EFL/ESL in kindergartens, language schools, cram schools, community centers, junior high schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. I have taught all ages from age 3 to age 80 and all levels from basic to advanced. I also owned my own school in Japan for six years between 1993 and 1999.
I enjoy helping people improve their English -- and I want to make the world a better place. I feel that by helping people improve themselves, I am also contributing in my small part to make the world a better place. As a youth, I belonged to the International Youth Hostel Association. The idea about staying in youth hostels was that you were to leave it a little nicer when you left  than when you got there. I would like to think we need to extend this ideal to making the planet a better place when we leave than when we arrive. Unfortunately, it is not seemingly going that way.
My teaching philosophy is based on ideas coming from (1) experiential learning, (2) active learning, (3) mastery learning, (4) discovery learning, and (5) cooperative learning. In a nutshell, that means that students (and teachers) (1) reflect on their learning experiences to form generalizations and then concepts which can be tested in new situations, (2) that students take an active role in their learning process, (3) that students master certain skills and concepts to a certain degree before moving onto the next developmental step or level, (4) that there is a sense of discovery in the learning process with students being given opportunities to use their brains to figure things out rather than having everything spelled out for them by the teacher, and (5) that students cooperative, help each other, and learn from each other. 
I believe a teacher needs to be sensitive to where a student is with the language (i.e. their "interlanguage"), meet them there, and then provide ample opportunities to practice the language at the student's particular level. I do not believe in just "covering" the language and moving on. As Earl Stevick said, "Teach, then test, then get out of the way." Students in my classes spend a lot of time communicating with each other in the target language (i.e. English) using the four skills of speaking, listening, writing, and reading.
My teaching approach is an eclectic mix of many different methods (e.g. the Communicative Approach, Silent Way, Suggestopedia, the Natural Approach, Grammar-translation, etc.). In other words, students communicate in the target language focusing on the necessary aspects of the language in a relaxed environment while getting lots of comprehensible input (CI + 1) and using grammar and translation judiciously.  I believe in flexibly doing what works depending on the unique situation that presents itself in the classroom. I furthermore believe that the linguistic aspects of form (grammar), meaning (semantics), and usage (pragmatics) need to be given equal weight in the teaching/learning process. So what does that entail? Simply teaching the English language in context.
See Teaching Grammar, by Diane Larsen-Freeman
This can be directly related to the concept of communicative competence put forth by Canale and Swain (1980) with the four competencies of (1) grammatical competence, (2) socio-linguistic competence, (3) discourse competence, and (4) strategic competence.
Finally, I believe students need to satisfy what has been described as "psychoacademic" needs: (1) the need for autonomy, (2) the need for self-esteem, (3) the need for competence, (4) the need for belonging, and (5) the need for fun and enjoyment.
The following articles have had a very positive effect on my present thinking about 1. Teacher Development, 2. The Attributes of Expert Teachers vs. Novice and Experienced Teachers, 3. The Art and Artistry of Language Teaching, 4. Effective Teaching in Adult Education,  5. The Necessity for a Teacher to Subordinate Teaching to Learning, and 6. Why and How Grammar Should Be Taught:
Teacher Training and Teacher Development: A Useful Dichotomy? by Penny Ur
Teachers Make a Difference: What is the Research Evidence? by John Hattie
The Art and Artistry of Language Teaching, by Alan Maley
Adult Education: What Makes Teaching Effective? by Anne Mishkind
Earl Stevick on The Silent Way: "Teach, then test, then get out of the way."
Teaching Grammar, by Diane Larsen-Freeman