How do I prepare for volunteer teaching in Bolivia?

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How do I prepare for volunteer teaching in Bolivia?

Unread postby Omar » 28 Feb 2006, 21:40

hello lucy,
i am in bloivia at the moment and have just been to the local social services office to see if there is any volunteer work i could do.
well, they need english teachers for children who have been abandoned so they can eventually get work as guides etc.
my problem is that i have very little time 2/3 weeks. do you have any suggestions as to what would be the most productive use of this time and is there anything i can put in place so the students can continue to learn after i have gone?
the students have little or no english and range in age from 5 to 15. i am not sure yet if the classes will be a mixture of all age groups or if they will be divided up according to age.
i have a T.E.F.L. cert from about 4 years ago and have done very little teaching in this time. also as i was not expecting to be teaching on this trip i do not have any resources with me.
i realise that there is probably very little i can do in such a short amount of time but any help will be greatly appreciated.
looking forward to you reply,

Omar
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Not enough time

Unread postby Lucy » 28 Feb 2006, 21:44

Hello Omar,

As your question deals with different issues, I will answer it in separate postings. Here I will look at issues to consider when teaching and in the next post, I’ll discuss your question about what to leave behind.

If you haven’t yet put together your classes, you should try to group the primary age children (5 to 10) by age. At primary school age, a year can make quite a difference to skills, general knowledge and interests. If your children are grouped by age, it will be easier to find a topic that they all like. For the 11 to 15 age group, you should group them by level, except try to avoid putting the two extremes of age into the same class.

The best thing you can hope to do is to leave the children with a positive attitude towards learning the English language. You should encourage and praise all their efforts and try to handle errors sensitively. If errors are not handled sensitively, they may be wary about trying to express themselves. If you can instil in them a positive attitude towards English, they will want to continue studying afterwards, possibly alone or with another teacher.

With the 11 – 15 year olds, you should give them plenty of opportunities to speak and listen to English. You should aim to cover the basic structures; e.g. introductions, likes and dislikes, abilities. You could use information from outside the classroom; e.g. the museum is on the left, it’s far from the church; the church is very old. I don’t know what level they are, but at a higher level, you could take them out of the classroom and really use this language. However, don’t spend too long on this as your time is limited. A good course book to use on short courses is Accelerate. It exists at various levels and contains topics that interest teenagers. You could also look at some of my previous posts about teaching teenagers, including the one on 16 November 2004.

With the younger children, it’s a good idea to choose a story and to base your language teaching on the topics contained in the story. For example, if the story is about mealtimes, you can teach language of food, likes and dislikes, the names of the different meals, vocabulary around the table e.g. knife, plate. You can play games and teach songs related to the theme. For more information about teaching primary, you can look at my replies on March 26 2004, April 18 2004, June 20 2004, October 10 2004, December 3 2004 and October 5 2005.

If you have any further questions, please write in again. I think this sounds like a really interesting project and somewhere where you have the opportunity to make a real impact on the children’s future.

Lucy
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Not enough time

Unread postby Lucy » 05 Mar 2006, 20:01

Hello Omar,

I would suggest that you leave behind activities that are short, fun and easy to use. This will make learning easy and enjoyable. If learning alone is a chore, it’s very difficult for students to keep up the motivation.

Some activities to leave are recordings of songs along with lyrics. You can leave the complete lyrics and a separate sheet of the same lyrics with some of the words blanked out. Students can fill in the blanks and check with the sheet of complete lyrics. If you don’t have time to produce these worksheets yourself, students can be shown how to blank out parts. Songs are excellent for practising listening as well as pronunciation. Students will get a feel for the rhythm of English as well as the individual sounds.

You can also use the worksheet generator available on Tefl.net to create vocabulary worksheets. You can match words with their translation, words with their opposite, words with their synonyms. You can also use the worksheet generator to practise grammar; e.g. match verbs and their past tense. These worksheets are very quick to produce and the opportunities are endless. I suggest you create some worksheets to revise language studied and some worksheets to challenge students by using a slightly higher level than what they are used to. You will also need to mix language they are familiar with (for revision and to give them confidence in using the language) and language at their level that they have never come across before. This will introduce an element of novelty.

You could also create a standard worksheet to accompany any reading text. For an explanation of this, you can see my response to Ngoclinh on 12 February 2006. By doing this, students can work on any text you leave behind and on any English text they might come across subsequently.

A vocabulary bag (see my posting of 26 September 2004) will also allow for a lot of practice. If you get into the habit of using it in class with the students, they will understand how it works and so be more likely to use it after you have gone.

It’s more difficult for the children in the 6 to 10 age group to work alone. If you have used card games or board games in class, leave these behind. If children are familiar with the games, they will be able to play alone. You could also set up a system whereby the older children help the young ones to learn.

I hope you will enjoy these activities and do write in again if you would like more ideas.

Lucy
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