Wednesday, January 28, 2009

notes from the ESL

A lady came to speak to my class tonight. She had acrylic nails. They were painted a really dark red and looked exactly like kidney beans. So kidney beans were all I could think about during her talk.

Tonight we talked about how everyone came to the United States. My students are from Mexico (Michoacan, Guadalajara, DF, Durango) and El Salvador. Some have been here over 20 years. Some have been here for less than 6 months. Some spent one day traveling to the US. Some spent an entire month. They walked. They took buses, planes, cars, boats. Some weren't scared during their trips to the US. Most were. Some walked across the border with coyotes. One student told me that didn't worry him at all. He paid the coyote a lot of money and was confident the guy knew what he was doing. Turns out he did.

The same student also chatted with me about those who come to the US and work hard and those who don't. From his observations, those who worked in their native country and came to the US as a late teen or adult generally appreciate what it took to get here and they work hard. He also observed that the those who don't work hard here in the US and get in trouble are generally people who came to the US as children (or early teens) with their parents. They didn't work before the came here, they don't appreciate what it took to get here, and they take for granted the opportunities they have here. I thought it was very insightful. This is a student who gets up at 5am, drives up to 2 hours each way to work sites, paints all day, and comes straight to my class without having dinner first. I have a lot of respect for him.

I have spent more time this session making sure my students know each others' names. It really has made such a difference. They are much more comfortable with each other now. Class is always better when the students are comfortable. Slowly getting the hang of this teaching thing.

Note to self: Even if it ties into the lesson, do NOT teach "used to" (accustomed to) before you teach "used to" (marker of past tense). I am positive they will now be saying "I was used to playing" when I try to teach them to say "I used to play." We learn from our mistakes, right:?


Camelia Bradshaw said...

You know, I was never comfortable in any of my ESL classes; and I took many. I guess, I always felt that I was supposed to know everything. Dah!!! If I did, I wouldn't have to take ESL classes to begin with.

I think it is wonderful that you make your students feel comfortable in the class. I bet you are a wonderful teacher. Your students are very lucky.

LJ and DC said...

gotta respect the immigrant. . . they have amazing stories. You must be an awesome teacher Molls

d/b/c/m said...

you have me missing teaching so much! yeah, i am amazed at so many of their stories. it really increases quality of life just to be around them and realize how easy your life is, huh? and sheesh, i remember grammer complications like "used to" coming up almost daily. English is the worst! you'll have to come over and talk shop--i'd love to hear all about everything.