Jim, a recent Poland Global Volunteer, describes his personal technique for teaching conversational English to Polish students.
This morning was a mixture of excitement and some anxiety. Exciting because I would meet my class of Polish English students for the first time. I’m a bit anxious because I didn’t know for sure if the activities I planned for them would be at their level of competence.
My group of ten students range in age from 10-12 years. To start off the day, we first did a “Birthday Line-Up” where classmates announced their birth dates and lined themselves up from early birthdays to birthdays late in the year. We then did another line-up where students arranged themselves according to the number of siblings they had. This was followed by the name game; students had to say their name after saying the names of students before them. Then we did the name game plus one fact; students gave their name and told something about themselves, e.g., “My name is Filip and I like to dance”.
“Find Someone Who…” was a good way for me to get to know students. For example, “Find someone who has visited another country” was one of the questions. Students went around the room and asked other students and me to find people who did twenty activities. Students reported back and I did a follow up, e.g., “You said you liked snakes. Would you like to have a pet snake?”
Word association exercises were also successful. For example, the teacher says hot. Then the next student could say cold. Snow and white could be follow-up associations. When students give an association that isn’t immediate obvious he/she has to explain the association. For example, one student said mosquito and the next said angry. When I asked why the student said angry she explained that mosquitos bite people because they’re angry.
Lastly we played Jingo, which is like Bingo except words or phrases are used instead of numbers. The teacher describes a word and students must find the picture that corresponds to the description. We started with “Summer Fun Jingo”. I also kept a list of new vocabulary for the students. We will periodically review these words. New words for the class today were fraternal/identical twins, allergic, checkers and left-handed.
Other volunteers had success with different English activities, such as saying a word, e.g., “snow” and the next student had to say a word that started with the last letter of the word. In this case, the word would have to start with a w, such as weekend.
One of my teammates reported success with a game of U.S. Geography Bingo. This will be a good follow-up to the short geography lesson I gave My students today. It was an enjoyable day! The students were enthusiastic and their level of English fluency was higher than I had expected. The morning went quickly!