Teaching English as a second language can be a daunting task. A teacher must work with varying levels of preparedness that can create complexities that make for a challenging endeavor for the non-native speaker student and the teacher. However, Anthony Monticello, one of Wasatch Academy’s English Language Learner (ELL) teachers, takes pride in getting students to break out of their comfort zones and use English more in their daily lives outside of class.
Monticello grew up in Binghamton, NY, where he developed a strong passion for music. This passion took him to New Orleans, where he attended Tulane University. After graduating with a degree in Philosophy and Psychology, he moved to Nagoya, Japan, where he met his wife. While in Japan, he spent the first three years of his career in the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) program teaching English to Japanese high school and middle school students. While living abroad, Monticello learned to value new perspectives, how to take on a challenge, and embrace failure. He shares, “Through my countless mistakes and decisions in the face of adversity, I’ve developed guides that still provide a sense of direction for me.”
With the majority of his professional career dedicated to working primarily with international students, Monticello’s educational philosophy focuses on teaching students to think in new and creative ways. “I encourage an open discussion in the classroom and make inclusion, creative thinking, and humor a main part of the classroom experience. I challenge my students with social and political questions, and through the study of English literature we discuss issues that are facing society today,” said Monticello.
By giving students in his classes the tools to take the difficult first step out of their comfort zones and practicing informal conversations in classes, Monticello mirrors the effort by trying to speak their native languages with them. “If they can see me attempting a language I don’t speak, they are more apt to take those risks too,” said Monticello.
Teaching ELL comes with its own challenges for today’s technology-focused youth. Monticello recognized early on that “If the classes, activities, and curriculum are more engaging than the devices in front of the students, then authentic learning is allowed to take place. This is very hard to do, and I am constantly learning how to make this happen within my classes; however, I think this is the way to create a productive learning environment for the students I teach.”
Monticello enjoys teaching ELL because of the variety each day brings and the ability to get to know students from all over the world. Monticello states, “They have a wealth of knowledge about their home countries, language, traditions, etc. and I enjoy having them share that with the class. International students are able to teach me and the others in the class so much about the world in this way.”
When not in the classroom, Monticello enjoys spending time with his adorable labradoodle, listening to music, playing the drums and guitar, snowboarding, mountain biking, and exploring the outdoors.