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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

United Languages: A Journey of Teaching and Learning

A picture of the front of United Languages. It is a house-converted-into-a-school, and there is a portable whiteboard on the lawn, probably from the class I just taught (sometimes we run out of space inside). More pictures of the school coming soon.

Ok. So, one of the major impediments to having enough time to write about life down here is due to my job. Since my last post, I’ve obtained a full-time teaching position at the private English school I work at.

It’s a private school, and it’s almost run more like a business in the sense of the structure of classes and a schedule. It’s not like a public school with lunch time, recess, and after-school programs. The school is set up so that students can reserve class or time in the computer lab in one-hour slots. The school is open in the morning from 7-11a.m., and re-opens in the afternoons, from 3-9p.m. Furthermore, it’s not like I’m working with the same group of students day-in and day-out. There are four levels of instruction (beginning, intermediate, intermediate-plus, and advanced); and so one day at one hour I might be teaching a group of students of a certain level, and the next day, a different group (and thus level) at the same hour.

All that to say, is that it can make the learning process a bit difficult because of the lack of continuity—i.e. not having the same students day-in and day-out, and progressing through the curriculum as a unit.

The student age can range from 8 years old to forty-something, with the average age-range being students in high school or a university. About half the students are required by their parents to come, and as a result, lack motivation to learn and apply themselves in class. The other half of the students more or less give a concerted effort to learning. But, having a mix of these students in just about every class can make the teaching aspect a little difficult—finding a interesting way to engage all students in the class, and have them learn something as well. But, this is the job of the teacher; and, on a personal note, I feel that overall, there has been more success than not.

I’m endeavoring to reach a level where I present the learning material in a plain, easily understandable yet engaging manner; to the point that I know if a student does not understand something, the fault won’t lie with me or with my instruction. I can’t say I feel this way presently, but it is my goal. (If we don’t have goals, we don’t have anything to work toward, right?) Furthermore, I know that this is not something I can learn overnight, but after much time, and many trials and errors. Some might say that such a teaching ability can never be completely obtained, and that a good teacher can ALWAYS be taught something new. I definitely agree.

This past Saturday, March 27th, was United Languages' first graduation ceremony that I’ve been a part of—they are held once every six months. So, it was rewarding to see these students pass on from the school after completing all of their courses; but also, to see that they have learned something, and that I might have been a part of that.

I’m sharing all these details with you about the school because it is a large part of my life down here, and it is what I came down here to do. I work six days and a minimum of 48 hours a week, and with such a busy week, my time to do other activities (e.g. writing) has been reduced.

As in this entry, the following entries will probably contain more day-to-day comings-and-goings—to try and better paint a picture of how a place and a people go about life as compared to what I was used to. Also, I really want to get more pictures up here…so you can see part of what I see!

I miss you all, and I hope all is well for you. Next post coming soon.


  1. You said pictures were coming in your last post!