Yesterday Esther and I met with the teacher of Semillero, Jorge, to plan private classes and a "guest tutor" position for my 2 months remaining. To be able to work more frequently with each kid, we decided to arrange the kids into pairs or groups of 3 for private classes. And today, we implemented the plan!
After multiple days of chaotic sessions at Semillero I have been rejuvenated after a very productive start to my private English classes. In the past week I came to S emillero every day with no plan at all. And, as you might guess, that meant I did a lot of standing around trying to help with homework subjects, trying to teach English to groups of 10 extremely hyper kids of all different levels, and trying to make sense of their rapid Spanish as they bickered and played together. But today, on the contrary, I sat at one table for the entire time, teaching English to different pairs of kids in the same age group for 20 minutes each. By far the most focused and organized day I've had at Semillero.
Today I worked with seven kids altogether and Esther worked with six kids. We practiced different conversations and greetings like "Hello, how are you?" "Good thank you, and you?" They were elated to be able to speak full sentences in English and stomped around the classrooms asking each other, "What is your name?" in their thick Guatemalan accents. So, needless to say, I was pleased with their enthusiasm and humor as we began our 2 month adventure into the English language.
What I learned today:
Some groups need to be adjusted. Though I tried to arrange each pair/group by age, it turns out there are some people that are very behind in their grade levels. One girl, Paola is 13, who I paired with another 13 year old, Fernanda. However Paola is basically illiterate and cannot even write in Spanish, let alone English, while Fernanda is writing entire paragraphs and stories. So Esther and I are going to have to regroup some pairs so that they better match each other's knowledge. But we figure the best way to determine their levels is to have one class with each of them to get a feel for their abilities and then make changes to the students who are drastically out of place. We plan to rearrange once we have finished working with each kid some time next week.
But so far, we are off to a good, productive start and it feels nice to finally have a plan after so many chaotic days! That is not to say today's classes were without distractions. Due to the limited space and classrooms in Semillero, which overflows with 25-35 kids each day, we were forced to work in the kitchen. This meant lots of kids running back and forth and causing plenty of distractions during each 20 minute class. But, we're working with what we've got!
Upcoming challenges include working with the younger students, since I mostly worked with more advanced students today. Some of the five year olds have trouble communicating in Spanish, so I anticipate it will be difficult to introduce them to English. However, thinking of the daunting task of teaching a whole new language to kids who can barely speak their native language is too discouraging. So we must keep thinking in baby steps-- poco a poco!