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.