About a month ago we reported that we had started teaching a basic English class here at our home for some of our neighbors who expressed a desire to learn some English. We decided to offer an eight week course on Monday afternoons from 3:00 – 5:00 PM. We showed pictures of the first day of class in a post five weeks ago. Last Monday we taught our fifth class, so we thought we would bring you up to date on how the class is doing.
We started with ten students including adults and children who all knew only a little English, but had a strong desire to learn more. One of our original adult students moved away and one of the young girls had too many conflicts with school and had to drop out. One week there was a funeral scheduled for a prominent San Clemente resident and most of the class had to attend the funeral, so we rescheduled that week for Wednesday. One week we had poor attendance because people were either sick or had to go to the hospital with family members. But, even on that week, the students that did attend shared their notes with those who missed and all of the students came prepared with the home-work assignments completed for the next class.
Mary and I are thrilled and amazed at how much hard work and enthusiasm our students have shown and by how much they have learned! This week we administered a comprehensive (ungraded) self appraisal test covering material from the first four weeks. The class took the test seriously though and worked hard to fill in each answer.
Carmen, one of our adult students, had to miss, but will take the test at home this week. You can see total concentration as everyone worked hard to get all of the answers correct.
We were extremely happy to see how well everyone did. I think they surprised themselves at how much they had actually learned in the first half of the class.
Last week we introduced the class to many verbs and we made flashcards to introduce and teach about forty common verbs to the class. Suzy, one of our students who has a small restaurant, missed that class with her sick daughter, but took the test and did well on the verb section. I asked her how she had learned the verbs so well and she showed me her own hand-made flash cards that she had made from Carmen’s notes.
After everyone took the test we were asking Lorena and others if this class was not a bit repetitive for the younger students who have English classes in school. Everyone agreed that the classes we are teaching teach much more English that what the students are learning in public school. That surprised us, but made us feel pretty good about putting in the effort.
Another thing we do each week is have the students prepare for the topics for the coming week by finding and learning five or six words pertaining to a subject and to write some sentences in English using those words. This week we covered parts of the body and the students were assigned to write five sentences in English with those body part words. After the test we reviewed the words and sentences the students had written.
Everyone is invited up to write one of their sentences on the paper at the front of the class. Once again we have been amazed at how good the sentences are and the exercise gives us a chance to teach some basic sentence structure and verb tenses and all of the students have come prepared and willing to write their sentences on the board.
When it was Suzy’s turn to write her sentence she wrote, “Mary has a heart large.” Anyone familiar with Spanish knows that in Spanish the adjective follows the noun. Anyone who knows Mary knows that Mary does indeed have a big heart! Also, Suzy apparently knows how to keep her teachers happy!
Mary is always researching and working on finding new ways to teach some of the sections. On the day she taught about colors, she also introduced a lot of painting and art related words and then at break time she set up paints on the outside tables and let the students work with the colors they had just learned.
Everyone participated willingly.
Ruben got into great detail and he and Julianna stayed after class was over to finish the scenes they could not complete before class resumed.
Mary also had some white rocks available for those who chose to paint on them and Tony showed that he is quite an artist with his lighthouse picture.
The important thing is that everyone had fun and could identify all of the colors in Spanish and English!
We are looking forward to May 20th which will be our last class and we plan to have a graduation party with food and treats and access to the pool.
Life is good in Ecuador.