Departure! The countdown is on...

July 14, 2009

A Vocabulary of Memorized Sentences

While I am teaching my courses I have realized that many of the older students always use the same sentences and switch one or two words to make it a little different. At first I thought they were all just copying from each other but later realized that it was a case of each student having memorized a few sentences in English and they were re-using them for all situations, sometimes switching a few words in hopes that I wouldn't notice. As a result I have started to focus on sentences more and more and how to write different sentences. Sometimes at the end of class I write a list of vocabulary on the board so that the students will have more words and things that they can use.

I don't really know how to fix this problem. The students need to understand how to put the words together on their own, to be able tot think of a sentence and put it on paper instead of just using the same sentences over and over again. It is also difficult sometimes to teach because there are some things that are said in Spanish that just don't make sense in English. For example, in Spanish when a car is driving it is said to be 'walking', as a result I see a lot of sentences like 'The red car is walking in the park' and to explain why this doesn't make sense in English is very difficult becuase in Spanish it makes perfect sense.

I struggle a lot with helping the students here to learn English. Many of them are eager to learn but otehrs only come to class because their parents want them to take advantage of this incredible opportunity: free English courses offered an hour a day by a native English speaker, in this country such an opportunity doesn't happen often. I want to teach them everything and to have them be really good at it, but I only have so much time, only one week of classes left, and I can only do so much before they have to help themselves. I once asked the secretary of my school why they have ther students learn English and she said because it is so important in the world. The problem though is rooted in the school system as far as I can tell. Students only have one 45 minute class a week in English and they don't review what they learn from week to week so they forget what they learned each week and move on to a new lesson, therefore never really learning anything at all. A supply English teacher at my school once told me that even in University their professor gave them all the instructions and everything in Spanish so they didn't really learn English and then their exams were written in English and they all did very poorly becuase they couldn't understand what was being asked of them. I know that I am not going to be able to change the school system in my time here, and that is not my purpose here. Instead I have made a personal goal to help these few students as much as I can in hopes that in the next school year they may be able to benefit from what I can offer them.



Michael said...

Wow, good point. One 45 minute class a week won't really help. I remember I had French like everyday back in the day and I *still* barely could speak/write in French, ahah...Let alone 45 minutes a week.

Good luck with helping the students you have (y)

Kevo said...

Yeah, I'm with Mike on that one... an hour a day for 10 years didn't help all that much, let alone 45 minutes a day... but hey, any help they get is better than nothing.

Have a safe trip home, too, Krista! :)

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