This week has been the best week of training so far! We have started coteaching English Clubs after school at a local school, Sepedi Primary School. My coteacher is the PCT who was my roomie in Philadelphia and my neighbor for the 15 hour flight to South Africa. I was excited to be paired with her from the start because I haven’t seen her as much since arriving, and after a week of working together I’m still more than thrilled. We’ve worked really well together and our little group of Grade 5 learners has been fantastic.
Our English club has 23 learners who are at various levels of English abilities. This week we taught lessons on rules, listening, reading, and writing. Neither of us has ever taught in an actual classroom setting before, so we spent a good amount of time lesson planning for the week. We created a theme that linked all the lessons for the week together to help learners catch on faster. We also used a variety of tactics to teach to all the different levels of English abilities in the classroom.
There are two girls who are very, very smart and about four more students who are also higher level learners. There are about ten students at very low levels of English, with about five of them at an extremely low level. I particularly enjoy working with two of the extremely low level learners. These two boys really seem to want to learn, but it’s obvious that teachers have not taken the time to help them keep up. After we start a task, I have to sit down next to them and use a mix of visuals, repetition, and my VERY limited Sepedi before they understand what we’ve asked them to do. As we walk around helping students and checking work, I frequently check back with these two learners. It’s a lot of extra work and easy to see why many South African educators let these students fall through the cracks. But the smiles on their faces when they do get it and are able to complete a task makes it so worth it!
And…best story from our classroom this week? Well, during our writing class we prefaced it by reviewing capital letters and periods. My coteacher asked the class if anyone could explain what a period was. Blank stares. One of our very fast learners slowly raised her hand and said, “Mam, I would like to try.” My coteacher said okay and the girl began to do her very best to explain what a period is…as in, a menstrual cycle. Completely fortunately for my coteacher and I, a current PCV was observing our class. Just as the learner began her third sentence I simultaneously realized what she was explaining and heard the PCV repeatedly calling my name. He whispered to me that in British English a “period” is called a “full stop”. Luckily, I quickly turned around and swooped in to save our learner by not so gracefully yelling, “Full stop! Sorry, we meant to ask what is a full stop!” The whole class let out an “oohhh” and the learner immediately placed a “full stop” at the end of the sentence on the board. Lesson. Learned. And kudos to that brave little girl getting up to try her best at an English explanation of the female period.