Tuesday, October 18, 2011

¿Hoy quieres dar clase tú sola?

I finished my Wisconsin poster over the weekend, and brought it with me to class at IES P on Monday.
When you say Wisconsin...

I came an hour early so I could leave an hour earlier (Monday afternoons are two hours of class (4.20pm - 6.10pm), followed by two hours of prep work).

When I went to Paloma's office to tell her I was there, she asked if I wanted to just teach class by myself that day. Ummm it explicitly states in our "contract" that auxiliares are not to be alone with the students; a teacher must always be present in the classroom.  We're not supposed to take the place of teachers (nor are we being paid what a full teacher would make).  Rather, we're supposed to assist.

So I told Paloma that we're not supposed to be alone with the students, and she said she would be close by.  I didn't know if close by meant in the same room or down the hall, but in the end I said okay, I'd try it.  This was the older group of students, smaller, and well-behaved.  We have a textbook to follow, so I knew what concepts had yet to be taught.

The 1 hr 40 min class started with a vocabulary list of electronic devices that the Thursday group received last week, but Monday's class had not.  Paloma was sitting at a desk in the front row but off to the side, listening.  Then, I talked a little bit about Wisconsin, using the poster I made this weekend.  Here are a few close-ups:

The deer got added for you, Chamwick

And this got added for all you crazy cheeseheads!

And then we went to the textbook to finish learning the last couple of grammar concepts in the first chapter:
  • a/an/some
  • some/any
  • there is/there are

In Spanish, the same word is used (hay) to express that something exists, regardless of the quantity.  For example: 
  • Hay diez estudiantes en la aula.  (There are 10 students in the classroom)
  • Hay una ventana en la cocina.  (There is one window in the kitchen)
So it was a bit confusing for the students since they had to choose between two different phrases in English when just one word is used to express the same thing in Spanish.  Also, since "there is" is used with singular countable nouns and uncountable nouns, students had to grasp the concept -- that words like coffee, tea, water, and money are uncountable.

Although class is usually given in Spanish and some of these students (especially the ones older than 40) have never taken English before, I tried to only speak in English when I gave the lesson.  It's what we were instructed to do at our auxiliares orientation, and I think it's best for them to hear as much English as they can (they only have class once a week).  That being said, I did lots of pointing, writing on the chalk board, and talking slowly.

A majority understand what's going on.  However, when they had to try an exercise in the book, I walked around the classroom and saw that one man hadn't written anything.  He was just staring at the book.  I came over to ask him how it was going, and he said he didn't understand anything.  This is after we had covered all three new grammar topics, one at a time.  So I helped him start the exercise, by explaining things to him in Spanish, but I'm afraid he'll fall behind or feel overwhelmed the further we get in the book.  I'm looking online to try to find explanations in Spanish of what we learned on Monday in class, to prepare some additional resources to give him next week.

Even though I don't think we're really supposed to be giving entire lessons ourselves, I really enjoyed class on Monday.  I didn't spend time planning it, as I didn't know I'd be giving the whole lesson until an hour before class, so it didn't take extra time.  The students are mature enough and the material is basic enough that I could wing it.  I like the freedom and casualness of each class with Paloma at IES P.  I want to slowly incorporate more activities and conversation practice throughout the weeks.

In every Spanish and French class I've had, we were always talking with different classmates, playing games, doing activities, standing up, and moving around the room, so I'd like to make English classes more dynamic here.  Currently, they seem to follow the model of every other class, like what I experienced two years ago at the Complutense: lots of sitting and listening.

As for now, I don't think I could give the same lesson to the Thursday morning class.  Those boys have so much energy and would talk through the whole explanation.  We'll see what Paloma wants to do Thursday morning!

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