Saturday, February 14, 2009

Teaching Engrish

I’ve spent the last two days as a substitute English teacher in a couple of grade schools. The company I’m working for contracts with the schools and the contract they have with this school district is to be in the English class one day a week.
Grade schools here have the kids in one classroom, but have a different teacher for each subject, like our high schools. The advantage is that you have a teacher that is very knowledgeable in the subject. The disadvantage is that there isn’t a teacher who knows each student well.
The class sizes are HUGE, 40 to 50 students in each. I have an assistant who I have nicknamed The Hammer. She maintains order and helps translate. Since I didn’t get any kind of lesson plan and I’m only doing this gig for a couple of weeks I took my guitar and taught the little buggers some songs. I drew pictures and wrote the lyrics on a good old fashioned blackboard. The older kids got “I know an old lady who swallowed a spider”, the younger ones got “This old man” and the first graders got “Head, shoulder, knees and toes”. They learned some words, had fun and now I’m listening to Radiohead trying to get these songs out of my head.
Something that I thought was interesting is that between each class the kids get 10 minutes to run amok. Since they have such hellish schedules, this is a good thing.