Saturday, May 25, 2019

TESOL Training

Time flies when you are having fun or when you are up to your eyeballs in homework for a four-week intensive teaching English as a second language (TESOL) course.  Last Friday I (Bridget) completed my third week and I have learned so much in a short amount of time.

That Friday, I took the bus from my host family’s home to the school as I usually do.  Our morning classes are held on the patio. Our instructors are all seasoned TESOL teachers themselves so everything they teach us they first model.  During week one we learned basic greetings and how to introduce ourselves in Czechoslovakian. That convinced us that our students can learn if we only use English in class. 

We have a break for lunch about the time it starts raining so we move inside for our afternoon classes. We might have a lesson on teaching grammar, for example modal verbs. (I never heard the term modal verbs before, but we use them all the time!) We started by reading a story about someone giving advice to a friend who was going on a trip.  Then our instructor explained that modal verbs – must, should, could, can’t – are used for giving advice. We practiced using modal verbs and then wrote an advice column in the newspaper. 

After our afternoon class on Friday part of our group went to teach classes and the rest of us wrote lesson plans, did some reading in our book, took the matching quizzes, or reviewed grammar for our upcoming exam. I had a night class to teach on Friday, so I headed out a little early since it was my first time at this language school. On the way I was praying that the Lord would help me to connect with the students, that I could encourage them and that we would have fun learning how to extend an invitation and accept or decline an invitation.

There were three women in this beginner’s class and from the get-go we were having fun and laughing as we played a game.  Then I showed them some photos of my family and that made the connection between us as they were all moms also.  I explained invitations using flash cards and writing on the board as they followed along, then we went through a couple of practice activities. The further down the worksheet they got the more confidently the ladies gave their answers and I knew they understood the concepts.  I introduced a game and let them play it on their own and they did great.  We wrapped up the lesson with a review of invitations and they corrected some errors I wrote on the board.  Then we said good night. 

Afterwards I was struck by two things. The first was that it was a privilege to be with these ladies for an evening and to be their teacher.  The second thing I realized was that after three weeks in this course I am a different teacher.  I taught that entire lesson totally in English and they got it!  Everything I did throughout the lesson was focused on them being able to extend and respond to invitations and they did it.  In the three years I have been teaching English I have never taught my students a new concept and had them using it 45 minutes later. 

All that to say thank you to all of you who have supported me in this endeavor.  Thank you for your generosity, your prayers, your words of encouragement, and your advice.  I am looking forward to getting back to my students in June and putting these principles into practice with them.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Special Visitors

Our daughter Joy and her husband Patrick are visiting us for Holy Week and we are enjoying every minute of our time together.  Over the last few weeks our lives and ministries have been enriched by other visitors, also.
Joy and Bridget cooking sweet plantain.

Paul and Patrick in their element!

The first week in March a fellow missionary brought a team of young single men to Paso Marcos for a short-term mission trip. Taking a break from their work and responsibilities in the USA and Costa Rica they stayed with a Cab├ęcars family. Their trip impacted my (Bridget’s) ministry because three of the men taught English with me at two elementary schools. The fifth and sixth graders put together Power Point presentations about their school. I never could have done this project without their technical assistance! The fourth graders took pictures of school supplies and asked and answered questions. The first, second and third graders learned about school supplies and played games about colors and numbers. And of course, at recess they wanted them on their soccer teams! It also encouraged me personally hearing how their journey with God lead them to Paso Marcos and seeing a new generation involved in missions.
First graders with their visiting English teacher.

The next week Hannah came with her dad and sister for a few days of their Spring Break.  We have kept in touch with Hannah since we originally met her as one of the UTSA finance students that was here in January of 2018 visiting our micro loan partners. Paul and their dad worked on a couple of projects – taking down the old wooden stair railing that goes to the river and trouble-shooting some electrical problems.  They both concluded that the problems need a residential electrician to untangle them.  The sisters and I were more adventurous, we hiked along the river and went to the swimming hole to jump off the big rock. Every day the three of them ate a typical Costa Rican meal at the Aroma de Montana Restaurant. (I have been teaching the three women at the restaurant English classes and Hannah’s family gave them some authentic practice!) For other meals everyone pitched in to cook at the mission center. Paul taught the gals to make breakfast burritos and the gals were great about picking a menu and helping me make dinner.  Just like when our three kids were teenagers, we lingered over meals talking about our lives and the sisters sharing their aspirations for the future, one is graduating from high school and the other from university in May.
Paul showing his fish to Hannah and her sister.

Lunch at the restaurant with our co-missionaries and Hannah's family.

The following week another family arrived from the USA who have relatives in the area.  The girls slept in one bunk room and the boys slept in the other, while the parents had the room with the new double bed Paul had made. Having their family here was like spending time with my extended family – lots of noise and activity.  A couple of times I went hiking with them, the kids enjoyed playing card games (Anyone remember spoons?), and one day was warm enough their relatives came and swam in the river.  Mainly the family spent time with their relatives and we just saw them in the mornings and evenings. Now that they have gone home it is so quiet.
"Safety shirt day" sponsored by UTSA.

We enjoy offering hospitality to people and encouraging them.  Being the hosts and caretakers of the Emmanuel Community Development Center, we hope people can come here and be refreshed and have time to connect with God and their family. Send us an email if you are interested in a visit. 

Paul and Bridget

Monday, February 11, 2019

Teaching English

Hi everyone! 

Hope your new year has started well.  For me, I (Paul) work on writing the correct year (such as on documents e.g. 2019).  It seems I finally “settle in” around Super Bowl time.  Also, around this time our annual ICDI meeting. 

To prepare for the annual meeting we present a review of the previous year in our respective areas of responsibilities and goals for the coming year.  Many of you, I’m sure, have been a part of an annual meeting in one way or another and can relate about the preparation involved.  There are a number of reasons for having annual meetings and I appreciate getting together to share and hear how the kingdom of God is making inroads and changing people lives.  

In some of our newsletters you have heard me share about our vision and purpose as we serve Costa Rica.  One of the aspects of the annual meeting I like the best is how it shows me if I am within the parameters of our mission statement and are resources being used efficiently and effectively towards what we are about? It is our desire to walk lock-step with the Lord and His agenda.  Each of our team presented great reports, but for Bridget and I the one thing that stood out for us was Bridget’s report about English as a second language.  I’m sure you will see what I mean after you read the following summary.
2018 My favorite girls English class.

Highlights from our annual ICDI meeting February 1, 2019:
English Classes – Bridget’s students (kindergarten, elementary, high school, and adult) logged 846 hours in 2018 and new classes are beginning in February.

That is an increase of 442% from 2015 when she began! Not to mention all the preparation that goes with it.

In the last year Bridget has been doing quite a bit of research on teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) programs offered here and in Oregon. Her goal for 2019 is to raise $1800 ($500 of which has already been donated) to attend a TEFL course in Costa Rica in May 2019. This four-week course is accredited and includes 100 academic hours and 6 practicum hours. The graduates work with all ages, and are hired by public and private schools or work as individual tutors. Bridget earned her master’s degree in education in 1984, but getting specific TEFL training will add to her credibility in the education community.  We believe the program here is a good investment and would better equip her to serve her students. (Being a teacher widow, I hope it will also cut down on her preparation time.) We would like to ask you to prayerfully consider helping so Bridget can attend this program.  Having taught for years, she is excited for the opportunity to acquire new tools for her “teaching tool box” and she’d be grateful for any donation you could make.

Here are the ways to donate  and please include a note that it is for “English”.

Walking with the Lord Jesus,
Paul and Bridget

2016 high school students
2017 kindergartners -What's in the bag?
2017 English camp - Bible story time