Last month I found a library in my community. It is a quaint building on the edge of town. I think my heart exploded into happiness when I found it; I love libraries. I spoke with the librarian and made two major accomplishments that day: I discovered the books that non-locals can check out and I left my contact information for volunteer opportunities. Within two days I was reading a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and I had received a call from the Library Director regarding a teaching opportunity.
I teach English Conversation for two hours every Wednesday evening. I researched and reached out to some certified ESL/EFL folks to obtain the ideal direction and needed tools for my class. I studied International Studies and the Spanish Language in college, not Education, but my students are learning and I love teaching them so this seems to be working! My class is a mix of ages and most are beginners. I lead the class in Spanish but I want them to hear as much English as possible and to practice speaking in English. It’s an interactive, bilingual approach.
Tonight I finalized my lesson on the simple present tense for tomorrow’s class. For a tense that has the word ‘simple’ in the title, it is not so simple! I’m sure they will love to hear that if the verb ends in “SS”, “SH”, “CH”, “O” or “X” they must add an “ES” to the end of the verb in order to form the third person affirmative form. If the verb ends in a “Y” and is preceded by a consonant they must add an “IE” to the end of the verb in order to form the third person affirmative form. Oh, and of course some verbs are very strange such as ‘to be’, ‘to have’ and ‘to do’ – they change in form and pronunciation so they must be memorized. Really!? When you look at these rules you realize it’s not so simple. I know there are exceptions in the Spanish language as well but English is so random! (Or maybe I have just been looking at all of this for far too long tonight and it’s time to go to bed).
My class outline usually includes a review from the previous lesson, the lesson for the day, a quick break, an interactive class activity based on our lesson of the day, a game, an explanation of two idioms and at the end I add some United States culture that we can discuss. They love anything related to U.S. culture so both the idioms and the discussion is a great way to keep them engaged. Last week the idioms I taught them were “You look like a million bucks!” and “To go cold turkey”. The library closed early (for unknown reasons) so I didn’t have a lot of time to explain the idioms. There were a lot of confused faces at the end of class; I’ll make sure I explain the idioms tomorrow! The U.S. culture section of the outline depends on upcoming holidays or interesting pop culture. Last week I was going to talk about Easter customs. I was going to explain that in the States many children paint Easter eggs, have Easter egg hunts and receive treats in their Easter baskets from the Easter bunny. I was going to mention that we do not have a ‘Burning of Judas’ like they do here in Costa Rica. Yes, you read that correctly! A burning of Judas, you ask? Well the custom here is that on the Saturday before Easter Sunday the town gathers together and burns Judas effigies. Yes, that was plural, as in multiple Judas’ go up in flames! Apparently Costa Ricans do not take kindly to traitors! I could make an entire post on this Easter customs!
My students are inquisitive and very eager to learn; they are also so humble and kindhearted. I look forward to Wednesdays.