Monday, October 03, 2011

My Classes

In case you've forgotten, I am actually working here, and not just having fun drinking fermented mare's milk and hanging out in my snazzy ger. I actually teach 25 hours of class a week. (Not counting grading and lesson planning, of course!) Four of those hours are team teaching together with my counterparts (my school's English teachers), and some are devoted to English clubs (three of them!) and loosely defined "extracurricular activities."

I teach two speaking electives, for 7th and 9th grade respectively. These have no set curriculum, no textbooks, and essentially consist of me trying to come up with ways to trick my students into speaking English. Fortunately, they are an enthusiastic bunch and seem to like me despite my often being reduced to flailing my arms around to try to get them to understand directions in English.

I also teach a Concourse Preparation class for 11th grade students. The concourse is an important Mongolia-wide English subject test. This class consists of even more flailing as I try to explain test taking strategies in English and am usually met with (justifiably) blank stares. However, we are marching our way through practice tests and hopefully by the summer exam they will all get A's. (Or else.)

I teach three mixed-level adult classes, two for my school's teachers and one for local government workers. These classes are harder because the adults won't spend half an hour playing games like the twelve-year-old kids will, haha. Also in the adult category is my class with my fellow English teachers, where I am working with them to prepare them for the teacher's Olympics exam, a competitive Mongolia-wide English test complete with essays and grammar questions.

As for extra-curricular activities, so far I've organized a Spelling Bee. (In which two of my ninth-graders placed!) This month, we're working on planning and celebrating a Halloween Party, hopefully complete with a scary poster contest, carved watermelons (no pumpkins in Mongolia!), a haunted house, and a dance. So you can look forward to a blog post about that!

That leaves the English clubs! There are three of them, divided by age level. So far we've baked an apple pie (no cinnamon but still delicious), learned the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" (student's request), and played a lot of relay-style games.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I actually really like my students. When I found out my job was "Secondary English Teacher" and that "Secondary" in Mongolia includes middle schoolers, I began wishing with all my might that I would only have older students. I was a little apprehensive when I found out that in addition to a couple of classes with the older students and adults, I would also be teaching 7th and 9th graders by myself. I mean, I remember what I was like in 7th grade. (Poor, poor Mr. Monforte.) I also remember what some of you were like in 7th grade. I imagined horrible scenarios of rioting students, yelling in English and being ignored, fights breaking out, things being set on fire, and paper airplanes being thrown.

While I can't say my students are quiet when I want them to be (or ever), or never throw things or hit each other, I can say they're a lot of fun and enthusiastic about learning English. They are also incredibly nice to me, and patient with my inability to understand them when they speak Mongolian at warp speed. This sort of linguistic weakness in a teacher is the sort of thing I totally would have exploited at their age, and I am always surprised when they don't band together against me. They're a good bunch.

1 comment:

  1. Meghan, you certainly have your hands full! I wish I were there to help you out - not that you need it, but I just envy your adventure! How did you ever learn Mongolian??? You must have computer access since you write your blog. You can probably get some ideas using Google to search ESL. Are you ever lonely or homesick? If so, just know that you will always remember this wonderful adventure that not too many people can say they've experienced. I'm sure all of your students love you and appreciate the freshness and big smile you bring to them every day. When I went to immersion schools for Spanish I remember having such respect for my teachers, my students at ACA I think had that same respect for the most part, and I'm sure your students have that for you. Forge on!!! Keep up the good fight!!! - Kay Gruss Holley