Thursday, September 18, 2008

On Teaching

Yesterday was my first day of volunteering to teach English as a second language at a church in Hillsboro. Why so far, you ask? Well, I got a good feeling is all. When I drove out there for the orientation 2 weeks ago, I realized just how far it was. On hwy 26, it would take 30 minutes. In rush hour? Nearly an hour. I told my self the first time I drove out there " This is a bit far, if I don't get a good feeling, I will decide not to do it". But to my luck, I had just the right feeling. You see, I've realized something about myself over the years: I have to feels safe in order to take risks. I think it's ingrained in our psyche from the time we used to give birth behind trees and in shrubbery. I remember being in my anthropology class: The Evolution of Human Adaptation. We had a guest speaker who was a midwife and from her lecture, I remember something very important about giving birth, but the concept I try to practice everyday. She said that in order to have a smooth birth, the mother has to feel safe. If she feels she's in any danger or if she's uneasy in some way, it will be harder for her. And well, that make sense to me, in my case. I've never given birth, but I can see how feeling safe would make me focus more on pushing than anything else. Maybe I'm just that type of person, i have to focus on the task at hand or else I won't enjoy it. Isaiah and I were talking about this today, in order to learn something hard, you have to at least like it first, that way you'll try harder to learn it. Makes sense to me. So that was the conclusion I drew with this new challenge. I've never been a teacher, I've never taught a class, and yet, I want to go into Teaching English as Second Language master's program, so I thought I'd give volunteering a chance. I knew that if all the elements were right, all I would have to do is focus on doing a good job rather than, I need to get home, is my car going to get broken into, I don't like the coordinator, but I liked it all. My students, just the 4 of them (one women, three men) were responsive, one of them extremely outgoing. They said their main problem was that listening. When people speak to them, they don't understand, and that is totally understandable. So I asked them, do you listen to English? They all sheepishly said no. So I gave them homework, out of the 7 days they had, they are to listen to 1 hour of English, just one hour: radio, tv, cd, anything. I want their ears to get used to listening to English. I think for next week, I'm going to compile a cd for them to listen to. I want them to hear different music and what people say and how they say it and what stories they tell, cuz not everyone is going to speak clearly or even care to "slow down". Some people can be mean that way. I'm excited for the possibilities, but I also feel a little lost in the sense that I've never done this before and I don't know if I"m even good at what I'm doing. I'm not following the packet at all and I know I totally should, but I"m still a little timid, a little shy and a bit unclear. The coordinator constantly says, oh just go with it, follow the book if you want. And I'm sure a lot of people hate structure and hate being told what to do, but this is my first time, so I need a clear set of guidelines . . . But all in all, it was a good night, I just hope I'm not a failure to these people that are really hoping to learn.

*Now, if only that gal had dark hair and darker skin . . .

2 comments:

Kristin said...

You will rock at this! Do you have another lesson plan ready?

McJumpguez said...

Kind of. I'd like to work on grammar so I'm waiting on this ESL grammar book from the library. I hope I get it on time. I'm also thinking of doing a lot of dictation and seeing where their problems lie as they said that was a huge area they needed help with. I really do hope I can help.