I can’t believe I am already saying this, but teaching is difficult!  Maybe this is just the “I’m new at this and am normally good at new things I try out and this is going to take some practice” jitters, but I don’t like it.  Working in a bank is much easier! I am appreciative of the challenge to teach, though.  I know that it is the healthiest way to live each day.  The problem is that I like to succeed at the projects I undertake as well.  Immediately.  I know it’s not a pass/fail test and that you don’t evolve into a fabulous conversation leader overnight, but I am going to need patience.  How is Andrew so calm and I am freaking out?  Oh, wait.  He has already been a teacher.  He’s good at it.  Deep breath.

Today I led a class that I think is going to be one of the most difficult I have. They are students that have already decided they no longer wanted to study and have tried their hand at finding a job in the big scary world.  They have, for some reason or another, decided they needed more education and have come back to high school to complete a ciclo formativo.  They are taking vocational courses in administration and are hoping to find a better job for themselves once they finish this two year program.  They have to take business English.  The challenge for me lies in that each student has a completely different level of English.  Some of the students comprehend what I say to the class, others stare at me blankly, and the last third of the class want a translation of what I said.  They turn to the students that understood what I said and get the Spanish version in seconds.  To suggest they only speak English seems impossible.

Today, I tried to get them to participate in a role play.  Three people worked together in each group. The ideas was to practice introducing themselves, simulate a phone call, and explain what they were interested in.  I thought “This should be a piece of cake.” They thought, “I have never been confronted with such a difficult task as this at 9:30am.”

From this experience I learned:

1.  Amanda please don’t take yourself so seriously, kids (even if they are 22 years old, just like you are) like to have fun.

2. Play games to get them speaking English!

3. Keep trying.

4. The teacher in charge of the class isn’t going to think you failed even if the activity you attempted failed.  She, in fact, is older and wiser than you and knows that you are learning.  There is forgiveness in Spanish culture.  Maybe even more so than American culture.

5. It is okay if you leave the class for the day and the students didn’t give an elaborate oration on what they would like to be when they grow up, where they would like to work and why.  In English or Spanish.  They don’t know, that’s why they’re here. The truth is that is why I’m here too.

Have you even been in a setting where you were the teacher?  How did you keep students interested and get them talking?  As a teacher of beginning level English students, how do you help them improve their conversational skills?