Friday, March 28, 2008



I asked the students in the ELI class to write a little something about themselves for a game I wanted to play. Unfortunately we weren't able to play the game because they wrote more than what I had asked (what a shock!) with some information (like where they live) that was the same, thus the game wouldn't work.

But even though we were unable to play the game, I did get to learn a lot about some of the students, ranging in ages from 12 to 54. I might have them do more personal writing like that because I thoroughly enjoyed reading what they had to say about themselves.

I was surprised at how many people were taking English because they said it was needed for their job or for their studies. As I have found, English is probably one of the best languages to know throughout the world because someone in every place speaks it. Nusi has told me several times that I am lucky to be a native English speaker because I could go any where in the world to teach it because people all over want to learn English.

It was also interesting to read their sentences to see where they are at in the grammar and sentence composition of the English language. My little bit of experience with those who are learning English is that they like to put "ing" on most verbs in sentences. Of course I know what they mean, and they are much more advanced in English than I am in Hungarian.

I would like to have them do more writing because I found that they will write more than they are willing to speak. They are so afraid to make a mistake (except Fanni in the class) so they hesitate to say anything in front of me, especially since I am a native English speaker. I understand how difficult it is to try a new language in front of someone who is a native speaker, but you don't learn unless you try it verbally. That I know from my own experience with Spanish or Hungarian. I am really trying to help them be comfortable and not be afraid to try. The Hungarians who work at the school told me that it was important for them to be able to speak because in most other classroom settings where English is taught, they just learn grammar and the structure, never really how to speak it or have a conversation.

So I was thinking about my own experiences in trying to speak Hungarian. I have had really positive and negative experiences. What makes me feel relaxed to try to speak Hungarian? I am least nervous to ask Nusi things, and I realize that's because of several reasons: (1) we have a friendship and I trust her, (2) she's patient with me and never makes me feel stupid, and (3) we can communicate in English for her to tell me what I said or did that was right and wrong. Some one told me that they aren't nervous to try Hungarian with complete strangers because they don't know them, while I, on the other hand, have a more difficult time with them because I feel stupid and we don't always understand what the other is trying to say.

I don't have any sort of relationship with any of the students in ELI yet. Perhaps they will feel less nervous as they get to know me. I also hate feeling like I am just up front lecturing them like in a more formal, traditional classroom. I would much rather sit in a circle and have it be more conversational and informal that way. But I'm not sure they would really go for that since that is now how things are run in a Hungarian school.

I am enjoying teaching the class. It was fun to see some of the younger kids participating more this week. I just hope to create an atmosphere where they feel safe and comfortable to try a new language. For most of them they already know another language besides Hungarian, so they're all a step ahead of most of us!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One thing I do with my ESL students for them to practice is make up short 'interview sheets' of questions they have to ask their classmates *in english* and then write down their answers - that hits both the speaking and listening plus writing aspects. Then we get back together as a whole class (i usually have them interview 2-3 people with the same ?'s about whatever topic we're covering in class) and I ask for responses and since they have them written down it's easier for them to read - especially since it's not their own words so if it's wrong, it's not so big a deal. I then reflect back what they said with proper English but not in a correction type of way, it's more conversational.

(Ex. "What did you do last weekend?" Reply: "I go to the club with her my wife dance" and I would say "You went dancing at the club with your wife - that sounds like fun!")