Alumni Reflections: Learning English Language Teaching in Gaza

“Gazan students, who can’t go beyond the narrow limits of the Gaza strip, discover the world and travel through the internet via the English language.” Ahmad Mahmoud Abu Hajjaj, PCELT course alumni

1920386_644964945541107_183769022_nMy name is Ahmad Mahmoud Abu Hajjaj. I’m a Palestinian living in the Gaza strip. I’m also a student of English language in the College of Education at Al AzharUniversity – Gaza. I have always aspired to be a distinguished teacher of English in my country. Therefore, I was so enthusiastic when I heard about the Professional Certificate in English Language Teaching (PCELT) course offered by World Learning/SIT Graduate Institute and Amideast. This course was a dream come true. I think that being a teacher is the most precious thing in the world and I have a great passion to be a well-informed, reflective, inspiring, and notable teacher who impacts and influences his people in a positive way.

I entered the PCELT course with high expectations that luckily became true in the highest sense. The PCELT promoted my self-confidence as a teacher of English. As a result of the course, I am able to give clear instructions that work in favor of my lesson objectives and form my own lesson plan that engages my students’ interest. In addition, I have improved my feedback and reflective skills that serve the process of raising my own awareness of the teaching process. I can say loudly and strongly that I’m a teacher of English armed with many effective techniques and strategies for planning lessons, designing activities, managing my time, using different suitable methods, giving instructions, correcting errors, and assessing students. PCELT turned out to be a great opportunity to gain and strengthen my pedagogical knowledge and skills needed to compete successfully in today’s job market.

After one month of PCELTing, I’ve realized how special it is to receive good education. I’m grateful for my trainers, not only for this unbelievable experience, but also for allowing me to relive my learning experience. Being a learner and a teacher at the same time was something incredible. It’s clear to me now that learning tells us how to teach. PCELT made me love teaching more than before. I have discovered a growing teacher inside myself. “Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” – Scott Hayden. Yes, I have these three loves, and I’m doing my best to spread my love through learners of English in my country. This is my visionary dream, and I will keep working hard to reach it.

1978705_647408508630084_237785093_nAfter the course, I was so eager to return to my practicum school to implement the strategies that I’ve been taught. Students in Gaza don’t usually have the chance to do freer “use” activities. They can get a bit overexcited at first. They aren’t used to speaking a lot of English, working in pairs or groups, or participating in activities or warmers. However, little by little, I think by trying and working hard, students will get on well with these new strategies of teaching. There are many challenges that hinder learning English here in Gaza including large classes, the standardized testing, the lack of teaching aids and resources, and the stereotyped thinking of people in Gaza about English (that it’s a difficult subject). Yet, I believe by hope and determination teaching English could thrive and improve in Gaza.

Using English nowadays is paramount for students in Gaza schools. They need to develop their communication skills and gain more in-depth understanding of other cultures and societies. This course will help my students to enhance their English skills and enable them to use English in real life situations. Moreover, it will prepare them to contribute to their society’s development. For Gazan students, English is an important source of satisfaction when they can’t go beyond the narrow limits of the Gaza strip they discover the world and travel through the internet via the English language.

I really hope to be that teacher who inspires and impacts others in my country. As William Word said, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires.” PCELT was an avenue for me to discover myself, as a teacher and as a learner who seeks improvement. It helped me to see my points of weaknesses as well as my points of strengths. In PCELT, you love and live learning. After PCELT, you love and live teaching. I recommend every teacher to be part of it. PCELT is an eye-opener, a life-changing, enriching, and extraordinary course.

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