It’s official . . . I’m an English teacher! Weird, huh? Currently, I am teaching two evening classes and one morning (reinforcement) class (two days/week) in Riobamba. So far . . . it is great! 🙂
I don’t know exactly where to begin, so I guess I will start with Monday – the first day of classes. At the beginning of each new cycle, all of the students and teachers met in the school theater. In the theater, our director, Jim, welcomed everyone to a new session and had a student teach the others about the school rules. He/She taught these in both English and Spanish. (As a side note, the rules are a part of the acronym C.A.S.H. This is for: no cell phones, attendance, no Spanish speaking, and homework. Easy, huh?) Next, the students were divided into their language level and sent off with their teacher. By the time my students and I got to our classroom, we had a little over an hour left (classes are each two hours long). There are 9 students in my first class and 12 in my second class. The students’ ages range from about 16 to 30. And, they are all amazingly engaged in their learning . . . I love it! The first day of classes we talked about who I was, why they wanted to learn English, did a few speaking activities and then they got their homework. (I know, homework on the first day! I am a tough teacher, huh?) Fortunately, the students in my classes are very proficient in English. This helps me a lot when I am trying to explain a concept or activity because they actually understand the language! Yay for Level 7 students!
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I got into a routine of planning for my night classes during the day. Since my classes begin at 5:00pm, I can spend time in the morning and afternoon planning for the evening. Around 3:45pm, I leave for the copy center at the school and print my lesson plan and copies for the class. This is a completely different routine from what I am used to in the U.S., but so far, this routine has been successful.
During English class, the students do a variety of things. They speak with one another, discuss grammar points, play grammar games, and complete sentences that pertain to specific grammar points. My personal goal is to keep the students engaged by speaking, writing, and thinking in English during the entire class period. This is important to me because I believe it is very likely that our class might be the only two hours in the day that the students work on their English communciation. With that being said, I noticed last week that it was hard for me to create several opportunities for the students to speak for extended periods of time. Therefore, this has become my personal goal: to work on developing more opportunties for the students to speak in English during class. Feel free to hold me accountable with this and follow-up with me on how I’m doing on my goal. 🙂
During the last class session each week (we only have classes from Monday – Thursday), I want the students to celebrate their learning from the week. This first week, we had a theme for the last day of the week: Banana Day. Some of the students were festive and dressed in yellow to celebrate. Yay! But, whether their heart was in it or not, the students were forced by their teacher (me!) to take part in various banana activities such as: Hot Banana (i.e. Hot Potato), writing a creative piece about their banana as a person or animal, describing their banana, reading a story about the history of bananas, and more. After our banana learning, the students discussed what they learned during the week and then celebrated with snacks. It was a great way to end the week.
It is very eye-opening to have the opportunity to teach English. Granted, I know how to speak the language, but teaching the grammar behind the language is a whole different ballgame. This past week, I was impressed with the knowledge the students have about English grammar. I understand that these students have learned the languagevery differently from native speakers, but they can actually identify past participles and the present perfect tense. Holy cow! Therefore, teaching grammar points to such intelligent students will be a huge learning experience for me as well.
I am learning that English grammar is not the most exciting of topics for students. Likewise, as I was writing this post, I was aware that it might not be particualarly exciting for you to read about grammer, class sizes, student activities and so on. However, I hope I have piqued your interest in something pertaining to teaching English. If so, please write a comment back to me answering the following questions. Gracias!
- What tips do you have for me to meet my goal to help students speak more in class?
- What would you like to know more about related to teaching English to non-native speakers?
- What would be the hardest part for you to teach English in Ecuador?