Once a week on Wednesdays, I have the privilege of tutoring two of my students who live in a boys home near Huehuetenango. These boys travel about an hour to our school each day in order to attend a bilingual school. The purpose of my time with them is to provide them with further support for acquiring their new language. For one of them English is his third language, with his first being one of the indigenous languages of Guatemala and his second being Spanish. My time with them is only an hour once a week, but I like to think we have some fun together.
Here is a typical day of tutoring:
Pictionary – 10 minutes – Through this game I teach and review new vocabulary the student has encountered in either class or in day-to-day life. Vocabulary words are written down on the whiteboard to be used during the class period. Often they will draw what they have previously learned. In rare cases they will draw something for which they do not know the English name. If this happens I will write down the new word on the board and incorporate it into our conversation and writing for the day.
Conversation – 15 minutes – Throughout these short four months I have been very impressed with their acquired language. They know many vocabulary words, but they struggle with speaking in complete sentences. Many times they will do a little “Spanglish.” For example, Teacher “can I use el bano,” is a question they asked me earlier this year. Conversations are not just limited to the classroom. Sometimes we go to a local restaurant to buy lunch. At the restaurant the boys are only allowed to speak in English and discuss different vocabulary that would be said at a restaurant. For example some words would include: order, drink, lunch, or dinner. The list is endless. Consequently, we will always have a topic of discussing. Recently we have been working on describing different teachers in the school.
Brain Break – After a half day of instruction in which students can only speak in English, these kids need a break. Breaks can consist of a five minute game of soccer outside to watching a music video of their choosing. Either way it is to take their mind off English for a short time and recharge in order to keep working.
Writing – 20 Minutes – After having a conversation, we switch to a time of writing. Typically, we continue discussing the topic of the day. I will provide a question that fits the topic and a sample answer for the students. I will then scaffold it further by providing a sentence frame. This gives me opportunities to introduce new vocabulary, strengthen vocabulary they have learned in their English classes, or reinforce different language structures, which they are going over in their English Classes.
Currently, the boys are working on describing different people. Last week, we made a Venn Diagram to compare myself with one of the other teachers in the school. They first wrote sentences comparing the teachers and from there we had an oral discussion. I had students write their opinions of each teacher on the class Venn Diagram. For their next topic, I want them to describe their personalities. We will be making an “About Me” book. The cover will feature a self portrait that they will draw (they are some of the best young artists I have seen!) and the inside will feature a paragraph of their writing.
These times with the boys have been some of my favorite during the week. They are very eager to learn English and put in their full effort in order to fully understand the language. While my short class is only a supplemental course, I love my time with these boys. The fact they are choosing to stay after school for further support speaks volumes about their dedication.