Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"I am from Cabo Verde"

Today, I gave the most impromptu class I have ever given.

I'm currently in Sal, Cape Verde. I came here for vacationing, and volunteer work as an English teacher, because, frankly, I need the experience. Plus, I have fun teaching! This basically serves as an opportunity that will beneficial to me and also to those I teach.

The groups I am working with are groups that usually get neglected, or don't have the resources to get English classes. And getting a basic knowledge in another language, like English, is really important in a developing country like Cape Verde, especially one that is attracting a large tourist market.

I am  mostly going to be teaching young kids that are part of various programs in Sal, designed to keep kids off the streets. They're a mix of kids that spent a lot of time on the streets either because they come from poor families that can't take care of them all them well, or they don't have a home to go to at all. The three programs I'm working for are Nos Kaza, Nos Castelos, and Africa Center 70. I'll write more on them as I go along.

But today, I was at the other end of the spectrum. Today, I was working with the elderly, who don't get nearly enough love as they should. While getting my TEFL Certificate in Madrid last summer, my favourite classes were teaching old ladies.

I'll be honest, I wasn't exactly too prepared going into class today. I was told that the senior group I was to be working with had been taking computer classes at the town library, and my job was to teach them the English tools they need to use the internet well.

I was prepared to give a lesson on emails.

I did not give a lesson on emails.

Apparently, today was just a day for getting the elderly that would be my students all organized. So there were more there than there were computers for. (They're were meant to be split into two groups, so I'll be teaching 2 separate classes each Wednesday)

So, seeing as I couldn't just send them off to computers and go from there I was suddenly given the job of organizing them and finding some way to make the best of hour we had today, while not being able to use anything I was ready for.

What I ended up doing was giving them an improvised lesson on super basic conversational English.

We covered " My name is________"  because I realized I didn't know their names at. And then at someone's request to be able to tell someone their nationality "I am from __________". And then at another's request "What is your name?" because they needed to know what the question was in order to answer it.

It took a while to get through, since all I could do was write the phrases down on pieces of paper and pass them around between the 20 or so students. I waited for them all to get what ever phrase was being passed around written down, which took time since there were only a few papers going around and they didn't have desks to write on, or the best eyesight. But I made my rounds, to check on spelling and pronunciation, all the while smiling and encouraging them. I did also repetitions in group and then individually.

I think each phrase took about 15 minutes to get down. It might have been even longer if there hadn't been a girl that works at the library there to help me out. I was extremely lucky to have her there too, she helped hand out paper, and write the phrases and help some students while I was helping others. Unfortunately, she disappeared quickly after the class was done and I didn't get her name. NEXT TIME!

At then end of the class, I taught them goodbye, and they said thank you, though I never got around to even trying to teach them that. I haphazardly  wrote "good bye" on their papers as they all approached me simultaneously to request it so they knew how to spell it, while reminding them all of the plan for next week.

Overall, it was a chaotic class. But they learnt,I  got over any nervousness I had about starting to teach classes, and we all had a lot of fun.
That's what's really important.

I never did get some of them to say Cabo Verde as Cape Verde though... and honestly, I kinda love that. 
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