Saturday, March 17, 2012

English Lessons

Don't worry...I'm not getting English lessons...I'm giving them :)

I’ve always had a little problem.  Even when I was in the States, I had a hard time saying no.  That has  never been more apparent than with my English class here in Masasi.  Almost as soon as I got here, several (four at this point) girls mentioned their desire to learn English.  Since I have to happy combination of being an English speaker and a teacher, I said I would start having 2 lessons a week starting in February.  That way I had time to settle in with my lessons with Nathanael and get used to day-to-day life in Masasi.  We started lessons on the first Thursday of February and things were going well.  They made me feel like a very good teacher and even asked if we could increase to 3 lessons a week.  I agreed (remember I have a hard time saying no?) and I aslo made each lesson longer.  Soon word got to a few other people and I gained a few more students.  Now I have the potential of having 9 students.  Thankfully, so far they haven’t all come at the same time.  I don’t have enough chairs for all of them for one thing. 

We now meet every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and I try to do a little bit of vocabulary and some verb constuction with them during each lesson.  They say I’m a great teacher, but I often feel like I’m not knowledgeable enough about the best way to teach them what they need to know in order to start speaking and understanding my natural language.  I’ve been using my Swahili lessons to help figure out an order for my teaching but I still do not have confidence.  I’ve never taught English as a foreign language and I still don’t know that I’m doing a good enough job at it.  If anyone has resources or a suggested scope and sequence, it would be appreciated!

On another note, as a result of the English lessons, my ability to speak Swahili is increasing.  Because I can’t explain the English language in English, I’m forced to try to find ways of explaining it in Swahili.  Also, because we are all learning a new language, I find myself with more courage to try to speak the language even if I get it wrong.  They’re in the same boat, so they won’t laugh or make fun of me if I get things wrong.  That helps me feel open to trying my best and accepting their help when I fail.  Also, I’ve always found that when I teach something to someone, I have a better understanding of the content as well.  By teaching English, I’m having to look at the Swahili lessons I’ve already completed again and use them to teach the English.  This refreshes my memory of the Swahili so I can use it more and more in my every day conversations.

All in all, even though I struggle to say no when people ask me to do things, or ask to be included in English lessons, the experience has been a good one for all involved…I hope. 

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