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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Special Day Teaching in Spain

I will never forget the day that I played charades with my students. My usual day at La Salle consisted of me assisting four different English language classes. My first class, which started at 9:25 am, was ESO II (the equivalent of seventh grade). I was assigned to go over the present continuous and the past tense with a group of about five students because they were going to have an exam on that subject at the end of the week. The group was chosen randomly so I had some students who were comfortable with the subject and others who needed a little more reinforcement. However, I was able to finish the lesson and the workbook exercises with time to spare. I had noticed that the kids seemed to have only done written exercises on the subject and were really bored by it; hence, I decided to finish the class with a game and started playing charades with them. I would act something out and they would have to tell me what I was doing in the present continuous and past tense. This little exercise got them entertained and, at the end, they did not want to leave. It occurred to me that the students had participated and advanced more on the subject in the last ten minutes of class (while playing charades) than in the 30minutes that I spent explaining and doing the exercises. This observation intrigued me.  

The next class I had was Segundo de Bachillerato (the equivalent of twelve grade) in English conversation. In this class, the teacher had a lesson on the conditional tense. However, one of the students brought in some interesting current news about a 30 year old man who had had more than 20 surgeries done to look like a ken doll. This grabbed the students interests and they started to debate about it. On observing this, the teacher decided to not us her lesson and, instead, used the current event to get the students speaking in the conditional. In seeing her discard her lesson and use what she saw interested the students to help them learn, I decided that I would change my teaching strategies in the next lesson I would give on tenses (I had to give the same lesson from the morning to my last period ESO III class). My third class was Primero de Bachillerato (the equivalent to eleventh grade) and, since the students were focused on a biographical writing project, I had some time to plan out my lesson for my last period class.

The ESO III class was an interesting group of student. From my observations, they seemed to be the most diverse class in the school (half the class was from Latino decent) and also the most behind in English. This was do to the fact that, because of school scheduling problems, the ESO III students had missed about four to five weeks of English. They were all very hyper and rambunctious and I adored them. I was in charge of helping a group of eight students that were failing English by giving them a more personalized lesson in a different classroom. For this class on tenses, what I did was divide the class into two teams; four students on one side and four on the other. Each team had 15 minutes to come up with different action words or phrases that one student from the opposing team would have to act out. Before they could start acting, I would say in what tense they had to give the answer in. If they gave the answer in the wrong tense, it would not count. By the end of the period, the students had completely gotten the hang of the present continuous and past tenses. Moreover, in trying to find interesting words for there opposing team to act out, they greatly expanded their vocabulary. It was amazing how excited they were about English when they had confessed to me, on the first day of class, that they considered learning English to be a waist of time. I was very proud of myself on that day and had this overwhelming feeling that I would become a pretty decent educator.  

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