Both teachers I work with rely heavily on the English textbook, workbook, and grammar books in their daily lessons. They usually begin each class period checking the homework in either the workbook or grammar book that was assigned the previous night. Then, they will focus on a particular page of the textbook to teach that day. The class period ends when the teacher assigns homework exercises for that night. Though the teacher’s focus on the same chapters each week, they do not teach the same pages, or assign the same homework assignments each day. They go about each chapter in a way that fits their teaching style and their students’ learning abilities. One teacher I work with likes to begin each lesson by having a conversation with her students. The conversation will allude to what they will be learning about that day, but she does not come out and tell them this in the conversation. For example, if the grammar lesson that day is about the usage of the words ‘can’ and ‘can’t,’ she would say something like this: “This weekend I was on a boat and went water skiing with my friends. I also tried to wakeboard for the first time, but I fell into the water each time I tried to stand up. I learned I can’t wakeboard, but I can waterski.” She would then ask the students what they can and can’t do, making sure they use each word properly before reviewing the material in the textbook and completing other exercises with the words ‘can’ and ‘can’t.’ The other teacher I work with is very good at providing examples to her students to explain grammar and vocabulary. She is able to relate each vocabulary word to the students’ background knowledge in order to make it more comprehensible. If the word allows, she will either demonstrate it or ask the students to come up with another example to describe the word. Both teachers use different teaching methods that are different, yet very effective. Neither teacher uses Greek to explain or teach English vocabulary or grammar. All of the English classes are taught completely in English and the students are required to use English throughout the class as well.
In regards to long-term projects, the students have been engaged in a pen pal activity with American students beginning at the start of the year. This project focuses on enhancing the Greek students’ writing skills and creative thinking, as the letters are written in English and each student’s conversation varies from the other. The students love communicating with the American students. They send pictures of themselves to one another and have truly become friends over the course of the year. Not only does this project enhance the students’ English writing abilities, they have also learned more about the American culture. Knowing I am American, the students would often ask me questions about various aspects of the American culture depending on what they have discussed with their pen pal. For instance, one student’s pen pal wrote that they spend their summers in Cape Cod, but did not explain where Cape Cod was or what was special about it. The student asked me where Cape Cod was and I was able to explain to them that it was a town in Massachusetts with wonderful beaches. If it were not for their pen pal project I would have never thought to tell them about Cape Cod and they would never have had any questions regarding it. The students have learned a lot from their pen pals and have been exposed to smaller aspects of the American culture that are not commonly known in foreign countries.