Sunday, May 28, 2006

Teachin' "Engrish"

So I made it through my first full week of teaching in one piece! It's really not so bad, and I think it will only get better as I get more and more used to it. Mainly, I am there for conversation practice. Each student is with the other teacher (who runs the school) for a half hour, and then we switch and they are with me for half an hour. The other teacher teaches more grammar, but I don't know exactly what he does. For the most part, I am free to do whatever I like.

With adults it is easy--they are usually motivated and interested in talking, and they understand that even if they aren't actually interested in talking about their favorite food or whatever, it's really just to practice talking. The young kids are a little harder, but my storytime experience at the library makes it more comfortable for me. Some of the youngest ones (3 and 4 yr olds) we just play with them and try to keep speaking English to them. With older elementary kids I end up just playing lots of games with flashcards (Concentration and Old Maid are popular).

The hardest ones are the middle schoolers who are not particularly motivated to talk to adults even in their native language, let alone in a language that requires extra effort from them--especially when they know these two phrases "I don't know" and "I forgot"--it can be really difficult to have a "conversation" with them. But gradually I'm figuring out games and strategies for all the different ages and levels to keep them talking. One tip I'm waiting to try with them is looking at "The Far Side" cartoons and talking about what's happening, why it's funny, etc. I couldn't find any in the English section of the bookstore, tho, so I've got one coming in the mail.

The adults I have are generally older housewives who are interested in English for various reasons--travel, something to do, whatever--and some businessmen who need English for their job. There are a couple of younger women who are planning adventures (going to America or Australia to live and work) and a couple of older retired men who come for an English lesson in the afternoon after they've gone bowling and watched the baseball game on T.V. There are all sorts of people--I have one man who is a surgeon who just bought a Harley Davidson. Another man owns a hip clothing and furniture boutique and he flies to New York every two months for businessAnother guy is an Engineering PhD student. There is a younger high school art teacher and a man who works on the third floor of big downtown department store. There is an older housewife who likes to play Chopin on the piano for a couple hours everyday. There's a middle-aged house wife who goes to several different aerobics classes each week and says she is very happy that her husband works from early in the morning until 11 at night because she only has to cook dinner once or twice a week and otherwise does what she wants! Most of the kids are into sports--usually dodgeball or tennis. . The most fun are a pair of brothers who are 4 and 5. Their mom requested only 5 minutes of structured lesson per hour and the rest is free play time--usually flying paper airplanes! Here's a shot of my boss on the left. We don't have breaks unless there is a cancellation, but there almost always is at some point in the evening. (We've only worked straight through from 2 to 9 without a break once so far). The time goes really fast that way--I like it.

Just for fun, here is a picture of a cup I got from an instant coffee vending machine on campus that I thought was cool. The Japanese says "KureenKyanpasu"--Clean Campus--encouraging us to give a hoot and don't pollute.