Aziz Soubai teaches English in Morocco. He was curious about making grammar instruction more fun for his students and easier for teachers. Read about how he gathered information from teachers before writing his book on using games in grammar teaching. Aziz's advice? Success means working hard, trying new things, failing and trying one more time.
1. Thank you, Aziz, for taking time out of your busy day for this interview. Can you tell us where you teach and how long have you been teaching?
I teach in Tighmert at a little high school on the outskirts of Guelmim city in the south of Morocco. I have more than 10 years of classroom practice.
2. Can you describe a typical day?
I’m an early riser so I wake up around 7 a.m., have breakfast and check what I’m going to teach (my lesson plans and the activities or projects that I planned with my students) I’m a huge fan of project-based learning. When the class is over, I encourage my learners to use English outside by preparing presentations, interacting and collaborating with other students online especially on Learning Management Systems where there is a safe learning environment.
3. Teacher self-care is so important. How do you relax?
I love listening to very slow music because it has a strange effect on how I think and process information. I also love to read poetry and write a lot. I adore writing; it is literally like oxygen to me.
4. You took on the tremendous task of writing a book while continuing to teach. Can you talk a bit about it?
Writing a book was a long cherished dream. Because I’m an EFL teacher, I wanted to come up with something that will have an impact on the ELT community at least where I work. I often meet teachers at conferences or online who complain about different classroom issues and problems. One of those issues is grammar! Yes, you heard it right - grammar and grammar instruction which is not my cup of tea because of the many reasons I mentioned in the book.
At first, I faced an enormous challenge. I tried to find out how can language games be utilized to make grammar teaching less daunting for teachers and more fun for learners. I also was trying to find out how I can link those games to the syllabus and what type of games I have to focus on. There are many books, articles and research papers written on this topic so I needed to think about what my contribution would be, and what are some new perspectives or solutions that I’m going to offer. Those questions lingered a long time in my head and the more I read and thought about the topic, the more the picture got blurred.
I finally decided to measure English teachers opinions using questionnaires and short interviews. Then, I managed to get on the right track. After collecting and analyzing the responses, I made a huge mind map which really helped me to stay organized and made the ideas flow smoothly into its final destination which was grammar games for better language instruction.
5. Where can teachers and students purchase your book/resource…
The book can be found here:
6. Do you have any plans for a second book?
Yes, I’m working on a second book at the moment.
7. How do you promote or market your book?
I mainly use social media and platforms like Amazon or Smashwords.
8. Where can people find you on social media?
9. Do you do everything yourself or do you hire people with specific skills to help you?
I always seek help, advice, and suggestions from people either online or offline. I have great friends on Facebook who continuously offer guidance and assistance whenever I ask or need help. I also took an online course organized by iTDi and conducted by Dorothy Zemach. The self-publishing course helped me to choose a great format for my e-book and format the manuscript. The live session, the assigned readings, and the Google plus discussions also boosted my motivation to complete the course and publish my book. I really appreciate the assistance of Dorothy and Julia Shtromberg who did awesome editing and proofreading work.
10. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
I think what happens in the classroom made me very close to my students, and the community, especially parents, associations and local authorities. I believe teaching should touch peoples' lives and change them to be better global citizens. We recently had a beautiful experience with local and international schools where we all collaborated on a project which was very successful. My students completed the process by winning the International School Award which is a great accomplishment. More details can be found here https://www.facebook.com/Mate-Circle-Guelmim-1670642666581386/
I learned a lot from negative experiences as well as positive experiences. I learned to be creative and use more technology in the teaching/learning process. I also learned to be patient more importantly. Patience teaches everything else.
11. What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
It was scary talking to teachers and trying to convince them of the importance of using grammar games. Some of them were a little hesitant to participate and some didn’t want to share what they do in their classes. I was very determined to finish the study and get as many accurate and honest responses and interactions as I could so I keep persevering. In the end, I was extremely delighted to see that most English teachers loved the book when I shared it on social media. There were a lot of positive comments and shares (https://www.facebook.com/aziz.soubai.7/posts/1117944311704046)
12. I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there". What advice would you give to these teachers?
I don’t think we can accomplish anything if we remain inside our comfort zone. Success means working hard, trying new things, failing and trying one more time. Fear and self-doubt are totally devastating. You need to roll up your sleeves and think positively about your life.
13. Is there anything that you would like to add?
I would like to tell teachers novice or those with years of experience that my students love to collaborate with schools around the world. We are always ready to exchange ideas, interact online and make global dimensions in education. Thank you.
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
1. Read more than 75 inspiring teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. Download The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit - 50 pages packed with information to get you started as a teacherpreneur at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
3. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
4. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
5. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
6. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. I spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. I now work as a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs, travelling at any time of the year and applying the science of positive psychology to all my work. Contact me at [email protected]
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