teaching English in PortugalOur nine seasoned teacher-helpers started out for our schools in a  heavy fog, but Lynn and I now know the way and no longer get lost.

This was our longest teaching day. We had five classes in the morning, a regular class in the afternoon, and then a one-on-one session with students who needed special help. Lynn and I enjoy the time in between classes when many of the students recognize us and want to say hello and ask us questions. Their command of our language is often quite excellent.

I had a very special time when four of the male students invited me to sit with them as they were eating lunch. We talked for over 20 minutes about many things in their lives and life in America.

Across town, Lynn and John had 7 sessions! They had fun in some of the classes, playing Bingo with English words. The winners loved getting brightly colored stars from Lynn. Three of the classes enjoyed it when Lynn played her ukulele. They also received pom-poms that two of the girls had made, as well as origami boxes with their name inside from two other girls. Special!

Barbara and Judy also had a “really good day, ” as they had four repeat classes and only one new class. They read from Dr. Seuss, and the class had fun spelling “Mississippi” forwards and backwards.

Ruth and Ann had six classes, and observed that by the end of the day the kids seemed tired. One of the older classes asked lots of good questions, not just about the subjects. They noted that the kid’s English outside the class was quite good. This was most appreciated by Ruth when she got lost going to the WC, and the students were quite helpful. They learned about Karnival customs in Vialgare, where they dress in costumes and go door to door: if one is not given a pastry, one throws flour in the face of the door-answerer.

David and Noreen had three classes, including one two hour class where the 9th grade students were taking a test. Our volunteers were appalled by the amount of  blatant cheating that was taking place. In their marketing class of older, unemployed individuals, they discussed ideas and suggestions to help them find jobs. They talked about travel and travel safety. Judy mentioned that she has been unable to buy a t-shirt with “Beja” on it, and Noreen thought that perhaps some of the unemployed should open up a t-shirt store. David and Noreen said that they have had success with flash cards and word puzzles.

– John

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