Thursday, March 6, 2008

my ESL class

I love community ESL classes. The students come from so many different backgrounds. Some have been here a couple months, some have been here 20 years. But they all want to learn English. And they are all so genuine.

So last night was my first night teaching my Speaking/Listening class in East Palo Alto. Here's how the night went.

6:00pm

I showed up a half hour early in order to find the janitor to let me in the classroom. We're only allowed one key, and the Tuesday/Thursday teacher keeps it. So I have to depend on the janitor.

6:30pm

After a half hour of walking around the school, I finally gave up on the janitor. He just wasn't there. Not good.

6:40pm

Only 3 students had shown up. And we were standing outside in the cold with no classroom. We finally decided that we would hang out in the cold until the youth class ended at 7:00. Then we would steal their classroom.

7:00pm

Success! We took over the youth classroom. By this time we had been chatting for a half hour in Spanish, so we had already gotten to know each other. I think being able to speak the students' language (while certainly not required) can help a lot in this kind of a class. A class that's focused on speaking requires a great deal of comfort and confidence on the part of the students. Getting to know the students in Spanish first also allowed them to see that I don't speak Spanish perfectly, but that it's ok to totally mess up sentences in another language. The important thing is that you are trying. It's also hard to maintain attendance in community classes, so the more the students like the teacher and have fun in the class, the more likely they are to come back.

8:30pm

After an hour and a half of discussions on what they want to learn in the class, how accents are a part of our identity, how English actually has about 13-15 vowel sounds (in comparison to the 5 or 6 in Spanish), and lots of fun practice saying words, we parted ways. I jokingly asked if they would come back next week. They all laughed and said that of course they would! And that they would remind the rest of the Tuesday/Thursday students to come, too.

I can't wait for next week!

5 comments:

Josh, Veronica, and Savannah said...

I am so glad your class went well!!! I think it will make a big difference that you were able to just chat and get to know them while you were waiting for the default room to open up.

Julia Wade said...

you are going to be SO great there, molly.

Ashley said...

That sounds great! I am glad it went so well. You sound like a great teacher.

d/b/c/m said...

yeah! fun!

we have a huge problem with consistent attendance at my school. it drives me crazy and i think i'm a little overbearing about it to my students. i hope you have better luck (with attendance and the custodian!)

sure you'll love it no matter what!

Sally Teeple said...

Yay, congrats! I'm glad it's going well so far!