Sunday, April 10, 2011

ESL Tara Teacher Style

Over the past few weeks I've been trying to take it up a notch at school. I've taken some of the best ESL ideas I've heard and brought them to my own classroom. Its gone pretty well so far...

Michelle loves to do power points to go along with what the kids are reading in school so I thought I would give it a whirl. I did one of the Empire State building to go along with this boring and difficult text about the historical building. It went great! The kids were "ooohing" and "ahhing" at all the pictures. The girls especially loved the pictures of all of the couples getting married on the observation deck on Valentines Day. 

My friend Lauren gave me the great idea of playing songs and writing some of the lyrics on the board and have the kids fill in the missing words. She was using old blues songs because they were slow and easy for the kids. Well, I took it to the next level and used Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. I did it with my 8th form class first and they begged me for Lady Ga Ga and Michael Jackson. So we did some 'Billie Jean' and 'Love Game.' Ok ok some of the lyrics are a little racey, but those kids were gaining listening skills and loving English class! 

Recently, Melissa's parents came to visit and they brought a little care package from my family for me. My mom is still thinking like a Girl Scout leader after all these years, and she included two bags of Valentines Day heart candy so I could do some project with my students. I gave each of my 11th formers 10 heart candies and they had to make up a story using the words written on the candies. One of my students wrote this fabulous story about how Georgi said "I love you" to Eka and she "Text me" all about it. Then they "hold hands" while having their "first kiss." 

Some of the simplest games I've come up with are from my own childhood. I love doing "Two Truths, and One Lie" and "Never have I ever...." Another classic is Mad Libs. When I was home for my sister Lauren's wedding back in November I bought some Mad Libs games. I did it with my 11th formers recently and they loved it. It was great for them to work on the names of the different forms of speech like 'noun,' 'adjective,' 'verb' ect. And at the end of the game we had a funny story to read! 

Its been a great challenge finding my place in the classroom, teaching ESL, and working in a developing country. However, I've found if I mix a little of my teaching style with some classic English language learning the kids are bound to learn a lot and have fun while doing it! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Two Worlds, One Georgia

When I first started studying international development my focus was on places like India and Uganda where the poverty is extreme to the visual eye. People are living on the streets, wearing rags to school, and fighting for survival everyday. 

Kids at my school playing football with a empty bottle
I knew that coming to teach English in Georgia was going to be quite a different experience. Yes, there are people that have little money. Yes, there are plenty of abandoned buildings. Yes, we lose power and can't drink the water in certain cities. But even with all of that, Georgia is nowhere near the underdevelopment that many countries face. 

 Georgia appears to have a it all together. People live in beautiful homes, drive nice cars, and have the newest cell phones. This isn't just in Tbilisi, but also in my town of Samtredia. So for an outsider it seem like Georgia has it all together, but in reality many of those big homes only have heating in one or two rooms, and there are more people that don't have cars than do. 

New v.s. Old
Georgia is full-on Monet. To quote one of my favorite movie characters, Cher from Clueless, "It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess." Georgia looks like it has it all together from far away, but in reality it still has a long way to go. 

A few months ago my friends and I went to see a play at the theater in Kutaisi. From the outside the building looks beautiful, but when we stepped inside I thought the ceiling was going to crumble on my head. Georgia may have many of the ammenities of the western world, but they are in need of a lot of love. It was a strange realization for me to understand that a developing country doesn't always mean they have nothing.

Sometimes I feel like I live in two different worlds in Georgia. I have students that talk to me about Johnny Depp movies, and the latest fashion trends in Paris. Then I have students that run off and get married at the age of 17. On the streets of Samtredia, I see young women dressed in high heels, sunglasses, and expensive looking dresses, and then on the other side of the road are little grandmas hunched over, dressed in all black, who probably haven't showered in weeks. It blows my mind!
My 7th formers huddled around the heater 

Another ironic thing that happened to me one day, was when I heard John Lennon's song 'Imagine' being play on a girl's cell phone as she walked down the street.  It just shook me to my core to hear John Lennon's message of world peace and equality being blasted onto the streets of Samtredia where just a few years ago people were fleeing from war. 

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to figure out Georgia's two worlds, but I can keep enjoying living in them!