Two Weeks, Two Pretzels

As usual, I’m a little late with this one. Or maybe right on time. The third week is just beginning, so it seems like a good time to reflect on my second week of work in Osmaniye. (Remember, thanks to the all-but-optional first week, week two was basically my first full week of teaching.) It was a solid week. 14 classes taught to at least 400 students. Though the constant flow of new faces was overwhelming at times, getting so much practice so quickly helped to alleviate the nerves that I felt on the first day. By Tuesday night I had a strong grasp of my lesson plan for the week and I felt prepared entering each class. Prepared except for markers, that is. I always forgot those.

Some classes were easier to teach than others, as you would expect. The smallest class I had was eight students, the largest fifty nine. Levels within the classes vary, with some students well acquainted with basic English and others unable to introduce themselves confidently. So that everyone will be adequately prepared for their midterms and finals (the ultimate goal of many of the students), I teach to (almost) the lowest common level in the class – an unfortunate necessity. The lesson for the week was therefore introductions and counting. They learned (or reviewed), among other things:

Hello, My/His/Her name is… I am / He/she is from…

The numbers 1 – 1000.

An introduction to telling time and talking about one’s height.

I had every student* introduce themselves to a partner and then introduce that partner to the class. This was somewhat of a struggle in the more crowded classes, but I think that it was useful to have had every student say at least a few sentences in English out loud, and to have personally interacted (even for a few seconds) with each of them. I teach the same lesson to every class (adjusted slightly based upon the general level of the students), which made me a veritable pro at teaching introductions by class ten. (Not really. It does, however, make my lesson much better and allows me to anticipate problems each class might have.) After reviewing numbers (and correcting such issues as “fiveteen”, “tirty” and differentiating between “seventeen” and “seventy”) I gave many of my classes a brief quiz in which they wrote down numbers that I said out loud. This quiz was intended to get them to focus and to determine whether they all truly understood numbers or if they only thought that they did. The quizzes went fine, though the students appear to believe that during quizzes I am neither able to see nor to hear. This is a topic for another post.

“Why two pretzels?” you might ask. As I collected my papers at the end of one of my classes, the last two students in the room came up to me. Shyly, each girl held in her hand a bag of pretzel sticks from which they had been eating during class. Though the contents of each bag was identical, both gingerly offered me a pretzel from their own. Nervous but smiling, the girls thanked me in their best English and told me that class had been very good. Then they left.

* In Turkish, a student is often referred to as an arkadaş, or a friend. The result is that – for a non-native speaker, at least – everyone sounds very chummy.

PS. For more great information about our first week teaching in Osmaniye, check out Latasha’s blog at takingteainturkey.com

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