Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kids English

One of Manna’s central aims in Cedro Galan and Chiquilistagua is to teach English to community members of all ages. To this end, we currently offer kids and adult classes, the latter including beginner, elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels. Adult classes take place almost entirely at Farito, and thus far have served as a great way to get to know community members in a classroom setting. Our three kids classes, in contrast, meet at both Farito and Salero, and expose us to a wider range of students in terms of both age and background.

In the past group of PDs, Steph was responsible for all kids English classes, which—to put it lightly—was no small feat. Initially, we all found the prospect of teaching a kids English class fairly daunting. Steph was able to gracefully manage and teach classes of nearly thirty kids thanks to her indefatigable optimism and extensive teaching background. Rather than assigning the kids English program to one PD, we quickly decided to divide the classes among ourselves, with two PDs leading each class of 20-30 students. In the past month, we have all received a hands-on crash course in classroom management, and are working to gain the respect and trust of our students.

Nicaraguan kids differ little from their North American counterparts; thus our classrooms are alive with frenetic energy, angst, hormones, and teenage drama. Herein lies both the difficulty and beauty of kids English: confiscating a love note mid-lesson is initially frustrating, but can also prompt a post-class conversation that yields new insight into a student’s life. Because our classes are meant to supplement school as an extracurricular activity, we strive to maintain attendance by make learning fun, engaging students with both games and songs. Despite our best efforts, however, the departure of the 2010-2011 PDs took its toll on attendance. Each year, some students are saddened and disconcerted by the absence of their old teachers, and opt out of class for a while. In the wake of this week, however, we can say that the transition slump has officially passed! Farito beginner’s English boasted an impressive (and loud!) 54 students on Thursday, while Salero classes are full and brimming with anticipation for our approaching pool party. Stay tuned!

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