first ESL class in the DR

Written Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I started an ESL (English as a Second Language) class a few weeks back. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed teaching English. It’s been different in that, when I teach ESL in the States, I know that my students have real motivation to want to learn, and speak English during class. They want to be able to communicate with their children’s teachers, or want to make sure their bosses aren’t getting over on them at work, and just want more control over their lives in a world that speaks English (and in which they don’t). Here in the DR, I’ve wondered what motivation people have in terms of learning English and applying it to their lives since they don’t face those same situations. Nonetheless, people do want to learn, and in my diagnostic, a phrase I’ve heard a few times is “la educación no cuesta” (education doesn’t cost…apparently these folks don’t have student loans to repay like some of us…ha!). At any rate, I have a small class, and it’s been fun teaching English again. It’s been tough, though, to getting them to speak only English in class…and I sometimes have to remind myself to speak English during class too. :-/

In terms of grammar, we’ve been over the present tense, the gerund (-ing) and today we went over the future tense. I wrote on the board “I, you, he/she/it, we, they” in a column and in another column I wrote several verbs (to fix, to love, to run, to write, to paint, etc.). I had the students come up to the board and pick a pronoun from the first column, a verb from the second and create a sentence in the future tense with those words. Ex.: She will run. They will paint. It really helped them understand that “will” goes with any pronoun and how simple the future tense is.

To continue testing their understanding, I wrote “Tomorrow I will…” followed by several verb phrases on note cards (Tomorrow I will fix a car, Tomorrow I will take a shower, etc.) and paired them up into teams—the men versus the women. One partner read the note card while the other acted out what was on the card. It tested not only the first person’s ability to read and pronounce the words in English correctly, but the second person’s listening in English. It was a lot of fun, and the men became competitive, but in the end the ladies took it. Lol.

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