Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My First Time in an EFL Classroom



Hi, everyone! I know I've been MIA for the last month or so, but I had a lot going on at the university. I'm slowly finishing my studies and although there's still a lot to be done, I think I'll be able to spend some of my time on this blog in the next couple of months. Today I wanted to tell you how my first time in an EFL classroom as a student of teaching foreign languages went by.
Once again, I got reassured that teaching is what I want to do for the rest of my life! One of my colleagues and I visited a local elementary school and we got to observe an English class of third graders. Their teacher, Jelena, blew me away.



I always thought that teaching kids at such young age is chaotic and exhausting and all over the place, but seeing this class made me realize that all the things that we were taught in college really can be transferred to an enjoyable practice. The topic of the lesson were days of the week and some activities that can be done in one’s free time. The class started with a “Happy Birthday” song to a girl, who was smiling all the time as she was listening to her classmates singing. Then the teacher checked the homework with the students and there it was – the first shock – everyone wanted to participate. Later on I realized that their language knowledge is very wide and that was another big surprise. The teacher praised the students a lot, for everything they did well actually and she had a smile on her face all the time, so it was really a pleasure watching her class. Teaching aid she used for most of her activities were word cards and blackboard. Her pronunciation is amazing and I can see that the students picked up a lot from it. When they made a mistake, she just gently repeated the phrase pronouncing in correctly, which was the smoothest mistake correction I have ever witnessed. The sequence of the activities was also great – one led to another and they were gradually more difficult. I love the fact that homework was given in the middle of the class and was based on a task that had already been done, so that the students knew exactly what they had to do and how to do it.



There were a lot of games used, and the teacher told us that she uses them in every class, especially when teaching the first grade. She incorporated the games in the class approximately every 10 to 15 minutes or when she realized that the students were losing their concentration. First there was a game called “Freeze”, which includes a lot of physical movement, then a game for days in a week, where students worked in groups of three and had to write down the names of the days that she had shown them; and last but not least there was a “Simon says…” game, which the students were ecstatic about.
There were also three girls in the class with learning difficulties, so they usually work according to the adapted curriculum. They were included in almost all activities, but when something was too difficult for them, they received already prepared worksheets to fill out. While other students were doing a writing activity, the teacher checked the worksheets with those girls and read a bit with them, again, always praising them for what they did well.
All in all, I loved being in the classroom, where so much enthusiasm, smiling, praising, supporting and learning was taking place. I admire Jelena for her organization skills, her patience and the way she treats her students and I wish someday I will be able to transfer my knowledge onto my students the same way.


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