Teaching One on One, Again

Peace Corps / Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

School has me coming in this week and next week to work with some select students. There’s a handpicked group of six or seven they want prepped for the English Olympiads well in advance, and while I’m still here able to help. While I certainly could argue and put up a fight about having to work during my summer break, I’m not going to. I’m actually very relieved to have something to do.

The thing is, it’s not work for me. I’ve done this about a hundred times now. I’ve sat with students, one on one, and spoke with them and listened to them for 45 minutes to an hour. It’s child’s play and I could do it in my sleep (there may have been days that I was so tired that I dozed off). I don’t need to prep anything any more. Most of the work is done by the kids.

You see, my method of teaching ESL students focuses on comfort. The other teachers work on grammar and vocabulary, which is great and certainly essential, but I take the next step. I don’t worry about mistakes or nitpick over grammar. I want the kids to feel what it’s like to speak and be understood, without a teacher interrupting them to fix their errors every time they make them.

I also like to give the kids an option about what we speak about. If they’re not enjoying what we talk about, it’s boring for the both of us. At the beginning of a lesson, I’ll ask them if they’d like to speak on the topics from earlier English Olympiads or if they’d just like to talk for a while. Not all of them choose the same. One girl is very focused on practicing the topics, and that’s great. She’ll do fine. Others like the free speaking option. It’s great too, because I chime in much more often and they can practice their listening skills. I don’t tell them that all this is a veiled learning experience because I don’t want to ruin their fun. I’m such a cruel teacher.

I have a feeling that these lessons will continue and likely increase once the school year starts. I’m fine with that. It’s also nice to know there will be students who want to talk about something new each time and I won’t have to sit through the same speeches, delivered by different kids, each time.

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