by Davie Pocstar, Greenheart Travel Scholarship Winner in France
When I was kicking around Asia this past year, I decided that taking an English teaching course may serve to be a useful skill in my future travels. So, I embarked on a month long intensive TEFL course in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It has been one of my traveling highlights and definitely a good decision as this latest post will reveal.
Last week, I had the pleasure (or nerve, not sure which one…) of teaching English at my host sister, Alice’s elementary school. I had a week to prepare my 60 minute lesson and boy was I nervous! I called up my sister, the rock star teacher that she is, for advice. Bless her! She had more awesome ideas than Salvador Dalì had on a good day.
So, after our skype session, I was excited and ready to prepare a lesson to knock the chaussures off these lil French kids. In the TEFL training course, one of the first things I learned was Context. This sets the framework for the lesson.
My context: CANADA!
The lesson I prepared consisted of teaching the names of all the provinces and territories of my country, Canada. The student’s English were very basic, as told by Alice. So, I had to keep it pretty simple. I also wanted it to be fun and interactive. I really enjoyed picking up supplies and creating my visuals.
Luckily, I had a huge dining table to get creative:
The idea was to have each student pick out a name from a hat and put it on the correct province/territory. More importantly was making sure they pronounced each name correctly. And later, spelling it correctly
I decided to finish my Canada map in my room et voilà!
One of the most important things I learned in my TEFL training was having my lesson plan outlined on a piece of paper to pace myself and stay on track. Since it was my first time meeting these students, I started with a “warmer” which is a way to introduce myself and get to know the student’s names. I demonstrated by having a student throw a ball to me and saying, “Hi, my name is Davie”. The students understood quickly and it was a delight to see each student enthusiastically catch the ball and introduce themselves. En Anglais, mais bien sûr.
After the introductions, I set the context I would be teaching: Canada’s provinces and territories. The students were all very keen and repeated every word I asked of them – the visuals on the board and interaction with the students helped them remember the names.
So I was very happy when they completed the worksheet of writing all the names on the correct provinces/territories with very little mistakes. To make it even more fun, I did a second round of picking-a-word-from-the-hat game but with a fact on each province/territory. This was one very enthusiastic class that by the time there was only one word left in the hat, the students were practically falling on themselves for me to pick them.
The students busy with the worksheet of completing the names of each province/terrority:
And the last fact could not have been more perfect: “Who was born in this province” [it was a picture of Justin Bieber]. As the last kid put the picture of JB on the province of Ontario, it was the perfect lead-in to my next game, a dance freeze!
The object of this game was to dance until I stopped the music and the students had to freeze until I turned the music back on. To help the students get into this game, I brought my trusty lil Macbook Pro and played JB’s “Never Say Never” video on full screen. You’d think there was a party on going in this classroom.
And there was!!
Dancing to Justin Bieber!
Before I knew it, my hour lesson was up and I had totally forgotten that I was ‘supposed’ to be nervous, haha. The one thing I really enjoyed when I was teaching in my TEFL training course was being in the moment. It was wonderful to experience this again at Alice’s school. I understand now the euphoric ‘high’ that teachers get when they teach and see their students having fun. And learn something to boot!
So for a morning, I got to be an English teacher. How fun is that? Well, there is another ‘fun’ that I’m enjoying while living here in Lyon. It’s called l’Alliance Française de Lyon – the French school that I have been attending since the beginning of November.
What I love about this school and its program are the many diverse students who come through their doors. The teachers are friendly and simply amazing. I have the pleasure of busing into Lyon Monday to Friday for three hours of French fun. Each class allows plenty of opportunity to “parler Français” The teaching methodology is high quality and standardized throughout all its campus’ around the world. I am looking forward to continuing my studies after my sojourn in France, wherever that may be.
In the meantime, I had the pleasure of making a tiny little film of my classmates and teacher, Amandine introducing themselves in French. There are students from all over the world, including Japan, Ecuador, Korea, Italy and Columbia just to name a few. It is refreshing that I am only one of two English speakers in the class. So by proxy, I am forced to practice my French with my classmates as this is the common language. How convenient!
Introductions in French
As the holiday season quickly manifests, my December class will be wrapping up on the 21st and then I’ll be heading to the north of France with my host family for visits to both sets of grandparents. I have been warned about the amount of food that will be consumed. Thank goodness I brought some stretchy pants with me!