Hello! My name is Hannah I am a student in the Lynch School and have created this blog to track my teaching experience abroad! I am teaching in Thessaloniki, Greece at the Anatolia Elementary School. The school's predominant language is Greek, because I do not speak Greek I have been placed in an English learning classroom. The following reflect some of my experiences!
The classroom that I volunteer in for student teaching is one based solely on educating Greek students about the English language. Through my experience teaching in this school I learned many factors about the English language that I had never known before. There are many different versions of the English language outside of the United States that I had never considered to be learned by others. There is the American English, the British English, the Irish English and many many others. The curriculum for this department was based on teaching the students both the American English and also the British English. Since the school that I student teach in is a private school, it is very important for the students in this school to learn English and to become fluent in English before they graduate and enter into the high school.
In the 6th grade, students are required to take an intensive exam that they must pass in order to be accepted into the higher grades and most importantly the high school. A large portion of this test is focused on the writing and understanding of the English language. This is why the English department within the elementary school is of much importance to the school. The students in my classroom because they are older are quite fluent. They are able to carry on conversations and understand the English language very well. It was interesting for me to help instruct in this environment as many of the sentences and phrases that we use grammatically in America are different in each country. Phrases that involve “have got” are stated differently. In American English for example: “Bobby got a new bike”, and in British English: “Bobby have gotten a new bike.” It certainly took some getting used to in order to help the students in their understanding.
At first, it was also challenging for me to socialize with the students because they were not familiar with the “American slang” that we sometimes take for granted in the English language of our country. There were a few times when I would enter the classroom and ask the students “How’s it going?” or say “Hi guys, what’s up?” my questions would be met with a blank stare. Even though they were very familiar with the English language they only knew the formal statements for conversations. Throughout my time teaching at the school I was able to become more comfortable with the students and learn more about their lives.
This year the school is implementing a new program for teaching English. For many years teaching English was based on lectures and written examinations. This year, under a new English program coordinator, the school worked with a program that proved to be much more hands on. It provided students with workbooks that had practice exercises, a series of storybooks about science and history, and finally computerized “chants” that provided the students with a musical basis for learning. It was a great experience for me to be a part of this change, as the teachers were just getting used to this new program and also were working to adjust the students to this new program.