Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What an English Assistant Actually Does

In addition, to running around Europe and looking at cool things, I actually am working while I'm in France. While I'm sure my mother and my sister enjoyed me showing them a story about turkeys while we were skyping earlier this week, I don't think that I accurately explained to them what exactly it is that I do. So, here it is.

The kids that I work with are young. From about age 6 to 10/11ish. On the one hand, this is perfect because they are in the stage where they are adorable and when I walk outside during recess, I am mobbed by young French children who run up to me to say hello and hug me. On the other hand, their English skills are pretty basic (but still much more impressive than my French skills at age 6). For the youngest, we learn maybe 5 words a week. The oldest ones can learn more and can usually understand part of the instructions that I give in English. It depends.

Although it seems as if they aren't learning much, please remember that most of my students have about an hour of English practice a week, and I'm with them for about half of it. The main goals for my students in elementary are for them to get used to making sounds in English (especially sounds that aren't normally used in French) and to get used to how English sounds. When children are exposed to a foreign language early, it makes it so much easier for them to learn it later.

I try to do similar lessons with all of my classes for each week, but I modify the lessons for the ages of the students. I also try to have some back up ideas in case whatever I have planned just isn't working with a particular group. Because sometimes the class that has finished with recess isn't quite so calm as the one that I had at 9 am.

One of my favorite lessons so far has been the one from last week. Yes, I use pinterest for my lesson ideas occasionally. My older children learned a song called "Five Little Ducks." We went through it line by line, and I made the motions with the ducks. Then, I sang one line at a time with them while they sang it back. And, then we sang it together. French ducks don't say quack, quack. They say coin, coin. So, as you can imagine, they loved making the English duck sounds.

I made lots of duck noises that day. Sometimes, I feel slightly ridiculous in front of the class, but since they're happy, I just keep on going.

The students also like whenever we do cultural lessons. My roommate (who is from the UK) did a tour of London lesson with her students. She handed out tickets for the bus, had a powerpoint that showed all the sights in London, and had postcards for the children to write.

She even made a mail box for the postcards. So much cooler than any of my lessons. I definitely wanted to join her classes and listen with the children.

Although I titled this post What an English Assistant Actually Does, we all do slightly different things. It depends a lot on what the teachers want, what the students are capable of doing, and what the assistant wants to do.

This week I'm talking about Thanksgiving, of course. With my younger classes we read a story about a turkey and learned a few words. With my older classes, we'll learn a few words as well, and I have a powerpoint about Thanksgiving with a little bit of the history and with today's traditions (that includes a short clip of a football game, naturally).

Also, thanks to my friends who sent Halloween cards to me in October. My students loved it! And, for those who want to send Christmas cards for me to show my class, then put them in the mail within the next week or so, so that they'll get to me in time. Of course, I'll be happy to get any cards whether or not I get them in time to use with my class.

Hope everyone at home has a Happy Thanksgiving this week!

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