As I mentioned in my first post, in addition to teaching English to freshmen college students at the university, I will hold two-hour tutoring sessions with a small group of children on Saturday mornings. Today I had my first session with the kids, and it went better than I expected. My students—four girls, ages nine and ten (and absolutely adorable)—are very friendly and eager to learn. Even before my session began, two of them approached me with a “Nice to meet you” and were immediately asking me questions regarding my age and where I was from. I attempted to draw a sketch of the United States on the chalkboard and then outlined Indiana; they seemed to understand.
The lesson was very much a success, I think. I opened by asking them words they already knew, which led naturally to simple greetings: Hi, hello, hey, and other similar expressions. Using a sponge (unused) that I brought from my apartment, we then sat in a circle and “passed” greetings to one another until the girls were speaking the expressions correctly (it also helped me learn the girls’ names). We did this a few times, occasionally changing the greeting—such as to “How’s it going?”—and increasing our speed with each round.
For the second half of the session, I taught the girls how to sing “Hello Goodbye” by The Beatles (an idea given to me by a friend on Facebook—if you’re reading this, much thanks!). I began by writing the lyrics on the board and having the girls repeat each line after me, subtly adding some melody to my speech each time. They were still having trouble memorizing the words, though, so I decided to return to the sponge-toss game, this time having them “pass” each line of the song to one another. This method worked remarkably well, and all four of them had the song down in about 15 minutes and were singing it on their own. (I continued to mouth along with them, just in case they lacked some confidence.) I surprised them at the end of class by playing the actual song for them on my laptop, but I think they enjoyed singing it a cappella more. The great thing is that we only had time to cover the first verse, leaving much of the song left for future lessons.
As you can probably tell by now, I’m quite excited to be teaching again. I became a bit disillusioned with the profession after my student-teaching experience in the Indianapolis Public School system about three years ago, which didn’t go well and motivated me to pursue my master’s degree immediately after receiving my bachelor’s in English Education. Fortunately, it looks as though my time teaching here in China will be a refreshing experience and will help to remind me of why I wanted to teach in the first place. I’m already looking forward to and thinking about what I will teach my students next Saturday!