Welcome to Spark ESL!
You may be wondering- what is this 'Spark ESL' everyone is talking about? Who's behind it all? What do they do? And what's in it for me? (always a great question, by the way)... So, let me tell you more.
Let me tell you a story about myself (I'm Kyla, by the way), teaching English and the challenges in my early years of ESL teaching that led (eventually) to the creation of Spark ESL.
Many moons ago now (approximately 1734, if you were wondering), I came across an ad seeking teachers to teach English to Chinese children online. Already working from home, and intrigued by the concept of teaching English online, I sent off my application and then promptly forgot all about it. Being completely unqualified (I had a bachelor’s degree but no TEFL / TESOL or other such qualification) and lacking any experience in the field, my expectations of landing this job were low.
However, the ESL gods took pity and before I knew it, I was staring through my screen at an eight-year-old Chinese girl on the other side of the world teaching (OK, attempting to teach) my very first ESL lesson. How did I do, you might be wondering… Let’s call that first lesson ‘interesting’ and move right along.
Needless to say- my first few weeks (OK, months...) of teaching English online were tough. I dreaded logging on to teach. I was stressed, anxious, unsure of myself, unsure of what I was doing and unsure that I had any right to be teaching English.
As with most things in life, gradually, a little at a time, teaching got easier. I got assigned regular students and, by some miracle, I didn't immediately get fired by the parents of my regular students. I got to know my students. I relaxed. I actually began to enjoy the time I spent teaching each day.
And then, the most remarkable thing of all happened. My students began to improve. I saw it with my owns eyes. I heard it with my own ears. And I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t totally suck at this English teaching thing.
Fast forward all those moons we were talking about before to today and I love what I do. I love working from home. I love the online community of ESL teachers that I have become a part of. And most of all, I love my students- many of whom I have now worked with for years. I love spending time with them each week and seeing their pronunciation improve, their vocabularies expand and, most importantly, their confidence as an English speaker skyrocket.
And yes, before you ask, I went and took a TEFL course and am now actually certified (and far better equipped) to do what I do.
About Spark ESL
That's great, you're thinking at this point, but what the heck does that tell me about Spark ESL?? Nothing. You're right. Sorry. If you've stuck around this far, now might be a good time to go and grab yourself a cup of coffee (or glass of wine), because we aren’t done yet.
As soon as I began teaching English online, I noticed two things. Firstly, I noticed that my students (every single one) LOVE to play games as part of their classes. When I did incorporate games and fun activities into their lessons, they were more engaged with the material and retained more of the lesson content. It was a win-win for both of us.
Secondly, I realized that I needed to supplement the provided lesson plans with materials that would give my students that little bit of extra practice outside of our digital classroom. For my students to really succeed, I knew they needed to be exposed to and engage with English daily- not just once or twice a week for half an hour. But I didn’t want this extra practice to be another chore for them. I wanted it to be fun. I wanted to trick them into practicing English with super fun and engaging worksheets, activities and games.
I began to hunt around for resources that were not only highly academically worthwhile, but also engaging and just plain fun for my students. Whilst there are many excellent ESL resources scattered around the web, I did not consistently find the kind of material I was after.
Now, I may have had no experience as an ESL teacher before taking on this role, but what I did have was years of experience creating literacy and math resources for traditional elementary school classrooms. At this point, the solution was clear... I would simply make my own resources! And that, my friend, is how Spark ESL was born.
This website is where I have compiled and made available to you the activities, games and worksheets that I love to create and love to use with my students to enhance their learning experience and get them excited to learn and speak English.
I truly believe that it is possible to disguise "serious learning" behind super fun activities and games and it is this belief that drives everything I do at Spark ESL.
Whether you are teaching English online from your home or in a brick and mortar classroom somewhere in the world, I hope that you have as much fun using Spark ESL resources with your students as I do with mine.