A month ago I wrote about an upcoming teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) class I was working on.
I’m happy to report that the class is up and running. In total, twenty-three students signed up for the afternoon and evening class. I’ve taught three times and attendance seems to be holding up at 20-21 per week. (No one wanted to sign up for the morning class, to my relief).
DuoLingo’s classroom function is working well and the students are doing homework via their cell phones and the mobile app.
My contact submitted the syllabus to the ministry of education for official approval. It looks like it will count for both a beginner and intermediate certificate.
A few details about the class
I began the class with a student interest survey and an interactive exercise. We went over administrative details and I asked them to sign up for DuoLingo as their first assignment. I had to be tech support a few times but everyone managed to get logged on. I can see their progress in my DuoLingo account.
During the next two classes, I mined the DuoLingo English course for Spanish speakers for academic content. Using vocabulary and grammar concepts from the DuoLingo content “tree,” I created two lesson plans to reinforce what they’ve been learning online.
A modification – more sustainable by teaching the teacher
On 14 June the Peace Corps Paraguay Deputy Country Director and our sector teams visited to present us officially to our community.
The event went well thanks in large part to our excellent local contacts.
I also had a chance to chat with the staff about my progress in site so far.
As I wrote before, I was uncomfortable teaching at a private educational institution. My contact helped mitigate this by offering scholarships to the students most in need. I interviewed candidates and sent my notes to two fantastic colleagues, Ben and Emily, to help me choose among them. My contact gave out nine scholarships.
Still, this wasn’t a perfect solution. I talked it over with the staff during their visit and we came up with a more sustainable system while keeping the scholarships in place.
The adult son of my contact has reasonable English proficiency and he started co-teaching with me. Each week we plan the following week’s lesson together. I’m helping him with his English and he’s learning about my style of teaching and lesson design. He’s very engaged in the process and plans to continue teaching English after I leave Paraguay.
Moreover, his perspective as a Spanish-speaking English-learner is invaluable when tough questions come up. He has the ability to explain tricky English-isms such that new learners can easily understand.
In this manner, I’m gradually going to step out of a primary teaching role. In theory, I’ll have helped build local capacity in a sustainable way. As an added bonus, the son plans on taking over the institute from his parents, so the teaching and program design skills may spill over into other subject areas.
In effect, I’m mentoring a business and helping them build a high quality product, one that also happens to give over twenty motivated students a valuable piece of human capital.
I’ll keep updating our TEFL progress and continue posting our material in case others want to use it.