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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Moving across the border

Teaching English as a Foreign Language or a second language -

A week from now I should be in Cuidad Miguel Alemán. I am moving there next week to teach English to a group of Second Grade children. I have substitute taught the past 2 years at the local elementary school here (Junction City Arkansas - Louisiana). But this will be a new experience (pun intended). No not the Spanish language environment. I have visited and even worked for short periods of time in countries that spoke Spanish or Portuguese. This will be the first time where I was primarily responsible for each day. As a substitute I simply take what the teacher has prepared and it is my job to execute it - in other words I teach what the regular teacher says I should that day.

Starting on January 7 it will be my responsibility to design and prepare each days work. This will be a new challenge. The fact it will be children who are learning a foreign language simply adds a dimension to the challenge. I have already been gathering a variety of "tools" to assist me. These range from Sight Word materials to workbooks and such that have additional phonetic theme work I can copy and use with the children.

One thing I learned as a substitute was that having "fill" material is important. Dead time is not good. Even the best of children with nothing to do will invariably start disrupting the class. Being in a position to give them material that will help them learn the concept we are studying is a goal of mine. A second thing I learned was "be flexible" Some days we will not accomplish everything on the plan. It is more important that the children learn the concepts than that I adhere rigidly to a schedule. And each child will learn at a different pace.

My first challenge on Monday, January 7, 2008 will be learning where each child presently is in their knowledge of English (and grammar in general). And to learn each child's name. It will be important for me to get off on a good relationship with each child. Even as I type this I am thinking of ways to accomplish these goals.

Between now and next Friday, I will be reviewing material and studying Spanish. I know some Spanish but most of it is at the outer reaches of my brain lying in the murky shadows. In other words, I haven't used it and as a result it takes time to recall. I need to expose myself to what I already know to get it familiar again and learn more. I will be teaching English but I want to learn Spanish and gain fluency.

I hope to update this blog weekly if not daily from Cuidad Miguel Alemán. Feel free to drop in and leave any comments. This will be a learning experience for all.

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