We are just days into our year of teaching English and it’s safe to say its been an interesting experience already, and I’m fully aware that more is yet to come! Up until today we have been doing half a day in head office, learning practical skills to use in the classroom and half a day of observations/ co-teaching. These have been based on both the syllabus and techniques surrounding ‘classroom management’ (or as I like to see it- bribing with stickers).
In our 4 days of observation we’ve seen a child who will only answer to ‘batman’, another who continually crawls on the floor like a dog, a 3 year old who is training to take a Cambridge exam to put it on her CV in order to get into kindergarten and of course plenty of kids that just WON’T stop crying (not that I can moan too much because I used to be one of ‘those’ kids). George has already been called an ‘old man’ because of his beard, as well as ‘Mr Giraffe’, which I think should catch on.
I taught my first lesson yesterday, a phonics lesson teaching 4 year olds letters and the sounds they make. It went very smoothly-although I think that was beginners luck more than anything! Although the classes are small they are tricky to get your head around as there are so many different types of classes: some are conversation based, some are grammar based, some are based on phonics, others based on prep for Trinity and Cambridge exams. I still find it unbelievable that these children are going to kindergarten until 3 and then coming to the centre for 2 hours worth of English study.
I have only just realised how incovenient the southern accent is when you’re teaching English. Being surrounded by American teachers, most of the children have been taught American English (candy, trash, eraser, elevator). I have resulted into adopting a northern British accent because attempting to explain why I pronounce words such as ‘bath’ like ‘barth’, ‘mask’ like ‘marsk’ etc is impossible. When I return to England I’m going to have an accent somewhere between Canadian and scouse.
Being a teacher for 2-8 year olds also means you spend the whole day with heads, shoulders knees and toes in your head. You go to bed singing the ABC song and wake up singing ‘five little monkeys jumping on the bed’. I can differentiate between the cool and uncool stickers, and I have realised how much of an impact Frozen has had in the lives of 4 year olds. Going through a lesson without at least 1 request to play ‘the Elsa song’ is unheard of.
So far the experience has been daunting and extremely intense. They seem to throw you in the deep end a little bit and let you work it out for yourself. Having said this, teaching is all about experience and you cannot expect to be good at it straight away. As of next Tuesday we will be teaching our own classes with our own students using our own methods without being observed and assessed. I think with this freedom we will be able to develop into creative and inspiring teachers we want to be (as well as being able to recite all the frozen songs backwards).