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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

School Teacher Diary

Day Two

I had determined yesterday that the kids’ English level was higher than I had anticipated. We had begun to read The Ugly Ducking and it seemed too easy for them. I received three more students for a total of eight—a highly manageable number. After going through introductions again we started right off with some reading. I think that reading is the best way to present the teaching of English (or any other language). Reading is the best way to reinforce vocabulary. It is also about a million times more interesting for students than plowing through grammar exercises. I teach English the same way that I have been learning Spanish: I read and take note of any grammar structure that puzzles me. The subjunctive in Spanish can be a huge pain in the ass. When I am reading I underline every use of the subjunctive that I don’t understand and review it.

In the two hour class the kids took turns reading out loud so that I could correct any pronunciation problems. As it turns out there were very few. These kids have obviously been studying English for a while. I wrote down the infinitive form of every verb that we came across in the story which totaled something like 25. Among these were a couple of phrasal verbs that I pointed out. For most of the kids there was little in the way of new vocabulary. This is going to be a lot easier than I thought. As we read I would stop and explain grammar point.

At one point we got off on a tangent and started talking about music. I showed them how much easier it is to find song lyrics with Google when you use the word “lyrics” instead of the Spanish word “letras”. I think that the internet, generally speaking, works better in English than in Spanish. For the next class I told them to find a song in English and search out the lyrics. One of the girls in the class is called “María” so as an example I found a youtube video of the West Side Story song “María.” I told the kids that they wouldn't actually have to sing their songs (unless they really want to sing, of course) and that I would sing them all. I sang along with the video which had English captions of the lyrics. One little girl sitting next to María was laughing at me so hard I thought she was going to pass out. I figure that any time I can make the class laugh must help them to stay motivated to learn. I think that motivating them is my most important task.

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