Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fridays with Elderly Russian ESL Students

Subbing part time for the language school here has been good, but the inconsistent nature of the job can be difficult at times. I really miss having a consistent set of students and classes so I am pleased to have finally gotten my assignment for the St. James ESL program. Keep in mind this is a volunteer position and so is not paid. However, it will of course pay off in the long run. ;)

Usually one gets the choice of tutoring students one-on-one, but I chose a group of old Russian ladies who want basic survival English. The program mostly caters to immigrants or refugees. For tutoring the students are tested, but I guess for a group of elderly ladies they bypassed the testing. Instead I have a class of low to moderate English students. Some have been here for several years to a few.

The curriculum, materials and design is all up to me and so of course I've been working hard at trying to put together quality lessons.

We are already heading towards class 3, and in that time I have learned not just what they need to learn but how to teach it. It's not just that they're low level, but also of the senior age level. So they're hearing is a bit off and also patience, I would say. However, they are fun to work with and I'm doing my best to take pauses, be patient and really be aware of their needs. The red dice below is used at the beginning for a warm-up, where they pass it around while practicing target language. It's to make up for the fact I haven't gotten a proper ball.

So far my lessons have been on classroom English, personal information and telephone English. The center I go to has books and materials I could use but I've mostly been relying on the internet, since that's faster. In the process I've come across other literacy and Adult ESL curriculum from different parts of the country, which have been helpful towards learning about this part of the field.

Every time I go to set up the class I feel a bit nervous, because these are elderly students. In my opinion they deserve a good class and I'm not too sure if I'm bringing it to them. It's suppose to be six students but so far 3 or 4 have come.

I'm still doing the subbing, and hope to do more during my summer time off. But that can be real challenging as the English they're learning is for Academic purposes and sometimes I just don't know the answers. So sometimes I feel a little incompetent at the job, but I remind myself that I'm not having consistent classes and I get the material about 24 hours ahead of time.

So having this Friday class gives me a boost of confidence again and something to look forward to. :)


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  2. Nice classroom....I suggest adding a small bouquet of flowers to the table or a basket of fruit or small treats, little toys/gadgets (conversation evoking & pleasing)...something different each class (inexpensive of course).

    There are resources & literature about teaching "older" people!
    How old are the students?

    several & a few are synonyms!

    It's supposed to...

  3. I already told you their age and I can't really do much about the classroom since it's not mine and I would have to carry everything there. I park far away cause parking nearby is expensive street parking.

  4. I think I really like her outfit. It's too young for me at this point, but super cute. Who cares if the purse is empty?Russian Love