I’m a teacher again!

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Look at how hard this student is working! She must have a great teacher. 🙂

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. 🙂

Happy students on Banana Day!

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?
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8 responses »

  1. Could they do show and tell? Could they write and share procedures for how to do something or teach something (how to make a certain, simple food, how o drive a car. . .)could they write a small play with a fun/silly theme or do a newscast? Along with that, someone could pretend to be a reporter interviewing people. could you play the game telephone? But this time, the 1st person whispers an Enligh phrase, then the next person traslates it and whispers it in Spanish and so onall the way around. That way tey can practice translating. My hardest part would be that my grammar, spelling, andpunctuation are horrible!

  2. hi Racael!
    Not bored at all!
    One way to engage students in speaking more English in class would be to play a game with conversation cards. They pick a card at random and they are given a situation to role play.You could do some funny stuff with this and it would be educational yet entertaining and practical.

    for instance; “You go to a store and buy a beverage. while waiting to pay, you are so thirsty that you open it and take a drink. when you get to then register to pay, you realize you left your wallet at home. Role play this with someone as the store clerk and you as the customer.”. If you are working on tense, you can tell them to repeat the scenario, but you are resetelling the story to your family about the incident that happened earlier in the day. This could be interpreted by both the store clerk and the customer point of view.

    The hardest thing for me if I had to teach English? All the idioms, slang, and metaphor that we use in our daily speech!

    Idioms would be another fun thing to do in class!

  3. Hi Rachael,
    It sounds like you are off to a great start and doing a wonderful job in class! I love the idea of ending each week with reflecting and celebrating what you’ve learned that week! It’s great to hear that your students are so engaged… but yes, sometimes getting students to produce language in speaking for an extended period of time is a bit of a challenge.

    I just went to a training on increasing production, particularly with speaking, and got a few new ideas for speaking activities. For example, two I really liked were where each student gets a random item and they tell a chain story in groups of 3-4, where they have to keep adding to the story until they incorporate their object somehow, them keep going around the circle. Another was to cut a strip from a magazine picture, label different parts, and then have to discuss what each piece of the strip could be and come to agreement on each. Then they can see the original picture. I tend to fall back a lot on speaking rotations, where they have a question or questions and discuss it with their partner for a minute or two, then when things start to fall quiet, switch partners, etc. It’s so simple but it does seem to really get them engaged and talking for a while. As long as the topic is interesting and you don’t do it always. I also do a lot of “find someone who,” surveys, etc., finding things they have in common (can incorporate the grammar), coming up with questions and then asking three different people for each, etc.

    Honestly though, it sounds like you’re doing a lot of great things already, and I bet as they get more confident and comfortable with each other, they’ll start talking more! Anyway, glad your classes are off to such an awesome start and keep up the good work! Hope you enjoyed the festivities this weekend! Susana sends her love and best wishes.

  4. 16-30. That is a huge age difference. How do you keep everybody engaged with that sort of an age difference? Ahhh, good ol’ dangling participles, gerunds and infinitives – they just don’t make language classes like they used to. Good stuff.

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