Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teaching English

I was video chatting with Emma and Anna and Anna had all sorts of questions about teaching and what my classes were like.  I realized that, while I've mentioned a few things here and there, I haven't really described what it's like.

In Europe, language schools are broken up into six levels.  A1 and A2 are the beginner levels, B1 and B2 are intermediate, and C1 and C2 are advanced.  Supposedly, by the time you finish C2, you'll be fluent, which I don't really believe, but C2 students should be able to read, write and speak English pretty well.  This is how Mike's Turkish lessons are categorized, as well as my English classes.

At the school I teach at, each level meets three times a week.  Twice a week is grammar/vocabulary instruction and then the third day is the conversation class with the native speaker (me!).   So, since I teach three nights a week, I have three different class levels (C2, C1, and B1).  The difference between the C2 class and the B1 class is like night and day.

In the C2 class, it is all discussion based. My first night was a little rough since I had no idea what their skill level would be or what their interests were, but now I think I've gotten a little bit better at figuring out what they want to talk about. I usually think of topics that make for a good discussion and then let them discuss.  We've talked about everything from the bombings in Ankara to whether everyone should learn English. These students know basic vocabulary, so the point of these conversations are for them to learn and use more advanced vocabulary. There are a few students who are more talkative than others, but they're a pretty good class and most of them seem to enjoy talking.  They even come up to me during the breaks and talk, which is nice because I know how exhausting it is to try and speak another language.

The B1 class is almost the opposite.  They still struggle with vocabulary and being able to speak without planning out what they are going to say.  I try to stick to more basic conversation topics, such as your dream vacation. Even with that, most of them have to prepare what they are going to say if they want to say more than a sentence or two.  They also have a hard time understanding me, so I have to speak slowly.  I also play games with them, such as Scattergories and Taboo, to help them just get thinking and talking in English.  They're a fun class though and very eager to learn, so I think that with lots of practice they'll be able to master basic conversations.

I am meeting with the C1 class this week for the first time, so we'll see where they are.  I miss teaching children a lot.  I miss teaching actual lessons and information, but this is an interesting experience. I have worked with students who are English Language Learners (ELL) before, but most of them were basically fluent in English, so this is definitely different.  It is also good to watch adults learn a different language because I think that will give me confidence when I start Turkish lessons. Plus, my students told me they would help me with my homework, so there's that..... :)

PS my students taught me a Turkish term.  The "Ottoman Slap" is when you slap someone so hard that they fall to the ground.  I don't ask questions about how they know this...

Oh and how cute is this little one?  She's gotten so much bigger since we last video chatted and is a squishy little baby and not a newborn anymore.  Plus, she's opening her eyes and focusing so much more, which is super cute, especially when she just stares at Anna forever.  Swoon.

Tummy time: baby's first work out.  PS oh, heyyyyy Kare Bear!

Look, Mom! I figured out how to use my arms!

Being two months old is exhausting.  Naps on naps on naps.