Alfonso Vargas - 27/Noviembre/2017

Our English class: A space to be yourself!

By: Diana Carolina Vera Parra (MA in Languages Teaching and English teacher at 10 and 11 grades)

The learning process of English at Colegio Guillermo León Valencia has been characterized by the development of different activities in which students do and talk about real things which affect their lives or make them happy. This is a step away from the traditional grammar backed approach, in hopes that conversational English will be easier, more successful, and more fun for the students. Activities include not only games and contests but also reflections about topics like human relationships, environment, problems with our society, the spending of our money and other topics that lead us to know ourselves better and think of a better world.

The most important thing for me as a teacher is seeing my students laugh and work in class. I hate looking at them yawning or keeping silent during my lessons. That is why my classroom is one of the noisiest of the building! It is the subtle combination of laughing and having a good time in class, paired with the learning of English, which allows the students to learn without suffering the normal bore of a classroom lecture. We are laughing and having a good time, yes, but we are not wasting time. We are learning English in a fun and creative way!

The presence of native English speakers in our classrooms has been a great opportunity for our students. The perfect pronunciation and fluency of the native speakers allow the students the opportunity to hear firsthand how the language is supposed to sound. Native speakers allow the students to enjoy their classes and practice the English language in different and exciting circumstances. Thus, we learn how to speak in a formal grammatical way, but also, how to talk in a more casual, culturally accurate way. Not to mention that the Fellow usually brings a whole host of culturally applicable lessons and activities that the students really benefit from overall.

This year we went through different topics and activities. One of those being Halloween, in which, students brought materials and created a character in class. Then, students explained the makeup process step by step and the origins of Halloween. Another topic we talked about was the rituals and customs of different Indigenous groups around the world; the tenth graders had the chance to reflect and respect differences among people. In this lesson, Daulton, our current Fellow native speaker from California, offered a short speech which made students understand such differences and build their own concept of Culture. Daulton studied Anthropology in his University and this in depth background knowledge made for an informative and comprehensive lecture regarding culture. 

The entire year has been full of learning experiences that I as a teacher hope they remain in my students’ hearts and brains as they continue their acquisition of English. The presence of a native speaker in the classroom is a huge benefit for the kids and for the entire community.



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