Mostly just been working my arse off. Working hours are 9 hours per day, and that doesn’t include lesson planning (another hour, at least). I come home and don’t want to do anything besides eat and watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother. Though, at the other extreme, some days I come in and they’ve decided to cancel school. It could be so that the kids can participate in a parade. Or so that the teachers can go on a 3-day retreat. Or sometimes class is canceled so that the students can sweep/clean the school. Whatever the reason, the point is clear that there are many things more important than class here. And out of the 3 weeks I’ve been here, class has been canceled for 5 days.
I’ve started to get the hand of this teaching thing a bit more. At first I was pretty uptight and concerned with making sure every student was quiet and paying attention, learning the material, and enjoying the lesson. Well that went out the window… it’s impossible with 40+ kids per class. And I can understand that learning English may seem pointless to many of them. The only English speakers around here are me and the other English teacher at the school. What’s the motivation to learn it? That’s something I hadn’t really considered as a potential problem… English is everywhere, right? Well, it’s not here. I might as well be teaching calculus, or some other dreadful, useless subject they make you learn in school.
Then I spoke with a friend who suggested another approach, that of bombarding the kids with entertainment, while flooding them with the English language. Create activities that they’ll want to take part in, do things that intrigue them, and they’ll want to learn the language in order to be able to participate. The goal of this approach is that, hopefully, they’ll pick up something. But you’re not shoving it down their throats, and everyone is much happier. I can’t force them to learn English, I can only make the option available and fun.
I have to say, I think it works. And it certainly makes getting through the hour a lot easier. I’m only going to be here for 7 weeks in total, I can’t make the kids fluent in English in that amount of time. But what I can do is lay groundwork for the teachers that will come after me, by making the kids receptive to foreigner teachers. And one by one, I am starting to win them over.