Poland Volunteer Gary talks about his experience Teaching English in Poland:
We are now well into our second of three weeks volunteering for Global Volunteers teaching English in Poland. I am at the elementary and middle school at Strzala outside of Siedlce. A work rhythm is now established and we are used to not having many people around now that the volunteers from last week have left for home. We expect more visitors at Reymontowka as the week proceeds culminating in a wedding being held this weekend at this beautiful retreat in the country. Besides teaching English to school children I also have been tutoring Aneta and Robert who wish to expand their speaking proficiency. I have given each short topics of interest to read and answer questions on the meaning of the article. I believe by using these facts and the vocabulary used the learner can present an oral summary that is close to the original. I have also suggested that keeping a notebook of new vocabulary and words to look up is valuable.
“With tutoring I also get an opportunity to meet Polish people and exchange thoughts about our countries, travel and our respective lives.”
The day at Strzala started by being picked up by a parent at 8:15AM. Jerry my driver spoke English and he told me about growing mushrooms in the area, a major crop in this part of Poland. He referred to his early life when he was taught by his grandfather about how to grow them. I asked how they would separate the poisonous mushrooms from those you can eat and he indicated that it became second nature to be able to tell the good from the bad. If you really had a question one way would be to touch the underside of the mushroom with your tongue and your tongue would tell you the difference. I said I wouldn’t be trying this when I get back to Minnesota where we have many mushrooms growing in the yard when we get an overabundance of rain for several days.
The first class was in kindergarten with Ms. Agnes. We spent 30 minutes with the 5 year olds and an equal time with the 4 year olds singing songs like B-I-N-G-O. and the Welcome Song. We also played a game of color/shapes bingo. The older children were quite good at identifying both and repeating the color and shape after each call. Some of the younger children could find the right square to mark while others needed a hint as to where to put their marker. This was a clear indication of what one additional year’s development does for children.
Next Agnes and I went to a class of 9 year olds who had a poster project to work on. The idea was to list the sounds made by noisy objects or animals and ones made by those that are quiet or silent. Groups of 4-5 students were given posters and worked cooperatively to label, decorate and color their work. Each student then started to draw the noisy lions, tigers, airplanes, ambulances etc. and quiet grass, cats, clouds, trees etc. It was a wonderful example of students working together with each contributing to the final product.
Hour 3 was devoted to an exercise of going to the grocery store with seven 13 year old boys. It covered how you would decide what to buy, what kinds of food are expensive and those which are cheaper, how to ask a friend if they needed anything at the store, and learning definitions of various types of products and packaging. We took turns with everyone having a chance to ask the questions or answer one. I get help from one or two of the students with more knowledge of English who will translate my directions into Polish if there are questions from someone who doesn’t understand. I have worked with this group 3 times and there is good rapport with them.
The morning was finished with another group of kindergarten children who were taught by Ms. Magda. We sang songs again and the children played identification games with toys in a box and then named which toy had been hidden when their eyes were closed.
“The children demonstrated the wide eyed wonder kids everywhere have, and my first six days of teaching English in Poland have been another great experience, positively enforcing my decision to come back to Strzala to teach for a second year.”