Thursday, November 08, 2007


I've been meaning to write about my classes for a while now, so here goes, day-by-day.

I work at a private secondary school. It's difficult to get entry into, co-ed and contains both junior and senior high schools. I teach the first grade of each. It's a good combination actually, as the junior high kids are so genki, they're fresh, their excited and excitable. The high school kids are old enough and have enough English to be able to talk to about things and to joke with, so their lessons can get interesting.

At our school, they do three types of English each week, I teach the third component, communicative English. In junior high I concentrate on phonics and am a pronunciation Nazi. But to their credit, my students now know the difference between a (l) and (r), a (b) and (v), can produce a good (th), exercise the muscles in the face, mouth and tongue to get the right sound and are now starting to lip-read. I'm so proud!

So, Thursdays. I have three classes, first, third and fifth periods.

My day starts with a high school class. They are a little different to most of my other high school classes, as all the students are new-comers to the school. They haven't been formed into this school's mould yet and I have to remind myself at times, that they haven't been doing this style of class for three years previously like the other classes have. A number of the students in that class have lived overseas. One in Singapore, one in France and another recently returned from a year's home stay and studying in America. The class has a high level of English as long as I don't ask them to volunteer an answer. Then I'm only greeted with the tops of every one's heads while they stare at their desks, and silence. I think it's because the kids who have come back from other countries are self conscious that they might make a mistake and the others are too embarrassed to speak in front of them. Other than that, they are mostly a good class. The girl that lived in France loves to talk to me and is a great student and one boy really makes me laugh. One day I told him that our next class was going to be a fun games class. He asked if we could have a party and have cake. I told him that sure, if he wanted to bring cake, I'd be very happy. He then told me, in very careful English "No, I would like to be treated to some cake". Cute!

My second class of the day is a junior high lesson. The kids in this class are so polite, they are just adorable. They laugh at my silly jokes (and really, what teacher doesn't like that?), try really hard and when completing a worksheet will raise their hands and say in very enunciated English (very rounded and proper), "Excuse me Melanie, how do you spell....." There are lots of "please"s and "thank you"s during that lesson. In today's class we were covering vowel digraphs so they delighted in being able to yell out "oi" and "oy". Every now and then, we broke out into a "Oi, noisy boy!" and their faces just lit up.

My last lesson of the day I have nick-named my "Help me, help me" class, as that's what a number of the boys yell out all lesson. They're not a "good" class, but they are a lot of fun to teach. One of the boys always makes me laugh. Let's call him "T". T has a lot of energy in class, though I can't say it's alway focussed where it should be. He sometimes talks in class, but if I turn to glare at him, he whacks, hard, his friend that he was talking to, tells him to "shut up" and then turns to me with a butter-won't-melt-in-my-mouth smile and tells me "He's a bad boy." I should get angry, but I just can't help smiling. The girls are a delight, as they are in most of my classes. One girl, Y, is a great student and came to me with a piece of writing she'd done, all marked out with pauses and inflections just in case she needed to present it to class. Another boy doesn't always do a lot of the classwork, but always stops me in the halls for a short chat in English whenever he sees me. His English is good and he will usually come up with something smart and funny to say.

Today, now classes are over for the day, I'm busily trying to finish writing a test and catch up on my marking. It's been a good day.


Jenny said...

Glad to hear you are enjoying your teaching. I always thought it would be nice to keep a diary of all the things that happen(in an ideal world where time wasn't so quick and the pace wasn't so hectic!!!) and then make it into a best selling book!!

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

That's a great idea Jenny! There are so many little things that happen each day.

Contamination said...

Blogging is for the small experiences, writing a book is for the larger experiences.

Btw, thanks for the front page link Melanie!