Thursday, January 10, 2008

#2: Teaching English

Teaching was certainly a stretching—and rewarding—experience. There are 760 students at the middle school and 61 teachers. I taught Miss “Trien"'s two, 2nd grade classes (ages 13-14) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning. Each class was 45 minutes long. I began with knots in my stomach, feeling ill-prepared, and praying, “Here we go, Lord.” Yet each time I finished energized and excited. The students wanted to learn and were so honored to have native English speakers work with them. We were reminded many times: you speak English and therefore you are the expert.

I employed a variety of methods in the classroom, sometimes coming up with ideas on-the-spot. For example, we sang Christmas songs, played games such as "Pass the Tissues" and "Boys Against Girls", reviewed vocabulary and conversational questions, sang “Head and Shoulders” with body vocab, and taught the American greeting of shaking hands. I wrote on the board a lot and tried to use games to review the vocab whenever I could.

My students knew textbook English but could not carry on a conversation beyond three or four sentences. They did ask me lots of questions, sometimes with Miss Trien translating: Have you been to China before? Do you like our school? What is your dream? What does your father do? Can you speak Chinese? What sports to you play? What actor do you like?

It was certainly frustrating at times. My teacher could not speak English very well. Another Chinese teacher would often need to translate when she wanted to talk to me. Also, we were not informed ahead-of-time what the teachers needed. Therefore, we did not know the students have a test at the end of January they need to prepare for. Also, because of the lack of communication, the teachers could not tell us how we could help them or if what we did actually was of assistance.

Wednesday morning they volunteered me to teach the "model English lesson" for all of the Chinese English teachers. I was terribly nervous, not at all confident, and completely unsure of what they needed or wanted. But, I did it despite my inadequacies. Words from Jill Briscoe encouraged me: "For this we need Jesus. And for this we have Jesus!"

I am thankful for the ESL open door. We are unsure whether the door will open again but that is okay. Praise God for the opportunity we did have. I pray we were an encouragement to the teachers and a source of inspiration for the students to practice their English!

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