Adventures In ESL: Student Teaching Weeks 1-3

adventures in esl

Alright! Time to blog about my student teaching experiences! I hope you all enjoy these posts, and if you are a teacher or are learning how to teach (like me), please share some helpful tips on teaching methods, fun class activities, etc. They are appreciated. 🙂

*Note: This is an intermediate adult ESL (English as a Second Language Class). The course lasts over a period of 12 weeks and are held 2 days a week and are roughly 2 hours long each.

Week 1: The First Days

Surprisingly, I was not super nervous on the days leading up to the first class. When I got to my classroom I wasn’t sure what to expect, and from there my anxiety really set in. My mind was full of questions: “Will my students like me?”, “Will they be able to understand me?”, “What have they already learned?”, “How many students would I have?”. The list went on and on.

The first week was mainly for icebreakers and assessments. I needed to find out my students reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Even though I knew I had an intermediate class, I wasn’t sure of where they were at in that particular level. And it turns out I actually have a mix of both low and high intermediate students. At this point I have a total of 18 students, which is a bit larger than I expected.

Besides initial assessments, the icebreakers turned out to be pretty fun! We played a version of people bingo, the telephone game, and Pictionary (which my students seemed to have the most fun with). I noticed that they kept reverting back to Spanish (their native language). I knew partially because they were nervous, and some students had to translate for others when they didn’t understand things. But ultimately the first week went okay. The icebreakers helped not only my students to relax, but me as well.

Week 2: The Challenge

Week two!  I move into my first unit which is “family”. I wanted to choose a topic that was familiar to students and use it to expand their vocabulary. I give my students writing prompts to warm-up the class (both days) and starts to notice more than half the class struggles with reading comprehension and writing. It takes them 20 minutes to complete the activity. Now I know to have their activities timed in order for the class to move in a fashionable pace.

We discuss family vocab, and practice terms by creating a family tree. It turns out to be fairly easy for the students. I attempt to teach my students possessive nouns, which backfires greatly. They don’t get the concept and only a few get really the gist of it. I get extremely stressed out and frustrated. So I turn to my advisor for advice on what grammar to teach. Turns out I have to go back to the basics. Basics meaning: plurals, nouns, present tense, etc. So I jumped the gun, which is okay since people make mistakes and I’m a complete newbie to teaching.

They still revert to Spanish a lot in class this week and it’s kind of hard to enforce them to speak English. I guess at this point I’m not sure how to be very firm without sounding overly strict? The hardest thing I struggled with is getting them to speak up in class. A lot of people are very shy and it’s hard to have class discussions.  I can’t blame certain students for being so quiet because I understand. I was the same exact way throughout all my school years. I was the kid who didn’t speak unless called upon.

Week 3: Conferencing & Getting To Know You

At this point I’m up to about 22 students! Which is kind of scary for me! So many people! I really felt that I have a harder time helping everyone since there a lot of students at their own levels.  My mom gives me some advice, “calm down & do the best you can”. She tells me I’m stressing out way too much and to remember that this is my first time teaching so I have room to make mistakes. (Good ‘ol mom advice)

Week three consisted of the beginning of one-on-one student conferencing! Talking to my students one-on-one proved to be fun and interesting. I was able to gauge what they needed the most help with, what they wanted to practice/learn the most, and got to know them better. Some of the more quiet people in my class opened up to me and were more conversational.

The conferencing also really helped to me to figure out how to plan future lessons. The internet sources and books out there for teaching ESL are great. In fact there is so much stuff out there plus the fact I need to set my difficulty level in the middle (for activities, homework, etc.) I still spend hours and day planning lessons for one week.

And that’s it! My rambling of my six classes over 3 weeks.

Most important things learned:

  • Stop stressing! It will be okay!
  • Teaching is a challenge
  • Teachers are awesome and amazing people! Looking at the classroom from their point of view helps you to see just how much blood, sweat, and tears they put into helping students learn and gain knowledge
  • I know more basic Spanish than I thought I did (took some classes in high school)
  • Teaching is rewarding
  • English is a tricky language (yes, I already knew that, but it really is)

Feel free to comment below. See you next time! 🙂


7 thoughts on “Adventures In ESL: Student Teaching Weeks 1-3

  1. I am so curious (or nosy) about the lives of teachers, so I love that you’re posting about it! It sounds like you’re really dedicated to doing a good job, and I bet your students can tell that you’re so keen to get to know them. Fingers crossed that you’re able to relax more once things get into a routine. Teachers ARE awesome and amazing people!

    1. Thank you! Like I said, when I replied to someone else’s comments, they tell like coming to class. So I guess that means I’m doing something right! 🙂 And actually I am starting to relax now, I’ll blog about that in the next two week update.

  2. You sound like you are doing really great! I have just posted my favourite warmer on my blog so feel free to take a look, it’s suitable for all ages and abilities and think your students would enjoy it 🙂

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