The Student Becomes the Teacher
02/14/2010 - 02/21/2010 90 °F
Week two started out great ... mostly because it was Sunday and I could do whatever I wanted to do. I headed into downtown Quepos to find a birthday card for my Dad. It wasn’t easy to find. I think wound up with a father’s day card. On the way I walked past the soccer field where the Quepos men’s team was playing a team from another city. It was pretty good soccer. The locals were really getting into it. Some of the more rowdy locals were camped out behind the opposing team’s goal keeper. They were chirping at him pretty good. The game got pretty chippy ... lots of yellow cards ... but Quepos was picking the other team apart. I later found out from a pimp that the Quepos team is the best team in their division. More on that later.
After finding a “birthday” card and watching some soccer, I took the bus up the hill to Manuel Antonio. I had heard about a pretty good snorkeling spot from my Hawaiian teacher (more on that later) and wanted to check it out. After hiking down the hill to the wrong beach, hiking back up the hill, and then back down again I found the right beach. Unfortunately I didn’t know exactly where the snorkeling spot was and the big waves were messing up the visibility anyway. I swam around for awhile, talked to a couple from Chicago and then hiked back up the hill again to catch the bus down to the main Manuel Antonio beach. I ran into my room mate who was with his friends from one of the Spanish immersion schools (COSI?). We hung out for awhile. I played around in the waves until I was tired of getting pounded. We saw some clouds rolling in so we decided catch the bus back to Quepos. We got on the bus just as it started to sprinkle. By the time we got off the bus in Quepos the sprinkle had turned into a full on downpour. The house is only a few blocks from the bus stop but by the time I got home I was soaked. It felt REALLY good. Did I mention how hot it is here? Even the sea water is too warm. The rain was nice and cool so I just stood in it for awhile. Ahhhhhh.
The second week of class started with Hawaiian lessons. They wanted us to see what it is like to be learning a second language from day zero. This way we would know how our students were feeling when we were teaching them. I could really see from the Hawaiian lessons how the new teaching methods we were learning came into play. Lots of gesturing, lots of repetition of words, lots of fun exercises, dialogues. The class was really fun. I wasn’t really motivated to learn any Hawaiian when I started the classes because I knew it didn’t matter for the TEFL certification but the communicative method of teaching that is practiced here sucked my right into learning some Hawaiian. On the third day we learned some Hula steps as a method for teaching us some Hawaiian vocabulary: left, right, hand, fist, hips, knees, bend, the numbers one through five. Good times.
The grammar test was Tuesday. I had to get at least a 70% on this test to get my TEFL certification. I had been learning quite a bit of new grammar stuff for the last week so I was a little nervous. The test was open note but our grammar teacher is tricky so I reviewed everything pretty thoroughly before the test. I wound up getting a 96% on the test. Not bad, eh? (I’m picking up some Canadian from one of the other students). Check off one requirement for TEFL certification. After class I walked over to one of the local bars for a beer and to see if I could catch any of the winter Olympics. A girl sat down next to me at the bar and started rubbing all the hair off my calf with her foot for some reason. Turns out she was a hooker. I talked to her for a little while trying to find out more about the Quepos soccer team. She didn’t know anything about it but the guy next to her (her pimp) did and he filled me in. The girl and I decided it would be better if we were just friends.
We had a meeting at school Tuesday to discuss the teaching practice schedule for the next two weeks. Our first teaching practice was to be on Friday and everyone would teach that day in pairs (team teach). The rest of the teaching practices were scattered over the next week and a half. I wasn’t too happy about the whole team teach thing. I thought we were done with that. I guess not. I was paired with the Canadian girl, Catharine, eh. It was tough pulling everything together for the first lesson. Initially, one or the other of us was confused or lost a lot of the time. We had to have our lesson plan approved by Thursday for our Friday lesson. On top of that I had to have another lesson plan approved on Friday for my Monday lesson. I was feeling a little pressured. Catharine helped my out by putting all of the teaching materials together (handouts, visual aids etc ...) while I tried to pull together a second lesson plan. We got it all done and had two hours to practice for our lesson. Good thing, too, because when I was practicing teaching the grammar point I stood there confused at the board for five minutes. It wasn’t that it was complicated stuff, I just wasn’t sure how to present it. It’s one thing to write a lesson plan, but to actually teach to the lesson plan is another. Lots of problems fell out of our practice session. By the way, we were teaching past irregular verbs to beginner students (go/went, take/took, have/had, get/got, buy/bought).
The lesson went off pretty well. We made some mistakes but not the kind of mistakes that the students would notice, only the professional observers. The students were having fun and we were having fun. When I tried to end the lesson (at 50 minutes) I got a resounding “get lost, I’m trying to complete this exercise” from the students. Cool! They were totally into it. Our team and one other team had the last lessons of the day. We finished up teaching around 6:30, wrote up some self reflections, and then got feedback from our observers. We were finally done around 8:00. It felt great to have that lesson (and that whole week) under my belt. It was Friday night. Time to celebrate.