I had an exciting and exceptionally positive experience in all my ESOL classes in Philadelphia. I was based at Nueva Esperanzas charter school with a young boy called Michael from Honduras although I occasionally got visitors from other schools and the rest of the city. Conversely, my work colleagues were very helpful both inside and outside the class making my stay in the country even more interesting. According to Lightbrown and Spada (2011), such a caring and hospitable environment was crucial for me to impart my skills on the students. I would therefore, recommend this great city to all my classmates who desire to have the best teaching experience in a foreign nation.
I also had the privilege of interacting with Michael's current teacher who offered invaluable information on the young boy's progress in learning the English language. Although my subject was from a country that is predominantly Spanish, the number of foreign students seeking to learn English has continuously been on the rise in recent years. This created a good environment for me to enhance my theoretical skills that I had acquired in class in a practical atmosphere. The prospect of working with a Honduran child whose first language is Spanish was exciting because of the rising popularity of English amongst the Central American natives. My findings from this research would also enable me make comparisons with the trend in my mother country. Indeed, the living and teaching experience at the school while working with Michael enabled me develop an extremely high confidence level I never had before. By facing foreign students who looked upon their teachers as their mentor and source of inspiration, they looked deep within themselves to bring out the best of them. (Ellis, 2012). Ultimately, I attribute my overall during through the internship to my colleagues and Michael's family that was supportive throughout my interaction with the young boy. According to his teacher, Michael submitted his assignments on time and was keen to ask questions on challenging topics. Moreover, he was self driven and exhibited a strong passion to excel in all his areas of study.
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This made the learning experience to be friendly to both the young boy and his family. Moreover, I dealt with any pending issues at the beginning of each lesson therefore maintaining the student at a progressive level in his coursework. In addition, Michael unlike most of his colleagues was significantly more endearing to learning the English language. I also loved the student evaluation module at the school that guaranteed fairness during examinations. For instance, at the end of every lesson, I accorded Michael ample time to submit his queries to the teacher and the rest of the class. Afterwards the class discussed in details the most challenging tasks and assignments that they face. According to Lightbrown and Spada (2011), a friendly learning environment is crucial in hastening the overall learning process.
However, I must admit that I never anticipated such a breathtaking experience when I first landed in the city. It began with organizing for my accommodation in the beautiful outskirts of Northeast Philadelphia that has a significantly high proportion of Hispanics than the rest of the city. Apart from being a major commercial and entertainment hub, this part of the city is also an important educational centre with many educational institutions. My day usually began early each morning by taking the metro to school. I remember the first day I got lost in the rather small city because of its buildings that look rather similar. Indeed, it took me three days to master my vectors through the city from the hotel I was staying. For example, in the most embarrassing instance, I got off the train and walked in the opposite direction from the school.
At the school however, all the classes were orderly organized and the students exhibited amazing passion to learn English. Moreover, they were extremely excited at this rare opportunity to share their creativity and culture with me. Even though, the curriculum seemed somewhat stressful to the Michael, it was wholesome to ensure the students learnt both quickly and accurately. While interviewing Michael I got the impression that his previous ESOL teachers were particularly supportive and meticulous in their feedback and responses to satisfy the needs of each student. For instance, students who exhibited weakness in any fields were further provided with specialized attention that could bring them to the same level with their colleagues. Eventually, the disparities in performance amongst students were eliminated to the satisfaction of both the teachers and our students (Ellis, 2012). As teachers and development assistants, they further responded to all queries from Michael and other students and gave them everything they needed to succeed. Meanwhile, I encouraged Michael's aunt to promote the use of English at home during weekends and in the evenings to have an advantage in mastering the language. I noticed that Michael being younger than most of his folks at home had an easier time mastering the language compared to the rest of his family members. Accordingly, languages are easily adopted at an early age. I therefore sensitized Michael's parents and siblings to transfer it to their children and relatives to realize the advantage of taking up foreign language lessons at early stages, while fully appreciating other cultures and enjoy the entire learning experience.
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In addition, the ESOL courses Michael was undertaking were well organized to enable him eventually become a teacher in his own right in future. They also focused on building self-confidence to enable him enhance his teaching techniques. Similarly, the relaxed nature of the courses was also crucial in building cordial relationships between Michael and his teachers. Although Michael had previously seemed reluctant talking to me, we became friends therefore hastening the interview process. I have plans to visit him during the coming Easter holiday to build on the bonds we created earlier during my internship and check on his progress of mastering the English language. Moreover, on my second visit to the school I will talk to his family to learn more of their cultures. I also want to assure his aunt that learning a foreign language like English will not be detrimental to Michael's future. Throughout my stay at the school, all teachers maintained a high degree of professionalism. This was fundamental in ensuring a conducive learning and teaching experience. I never encountered any instance of any physical or verbal confrontation between the students and the teachers. The friendly atmosphere further makes me wish to visit the school again when I am free. In addition, the balanced content of the syllabus helps develop all round students like Michael who will guarantee progress of the English language in their mother countries.
From the interview, I also gathered that the classes were further made fun and participatory as opposed to being routine and boring by many aspects. For instance, each day had a different schedule from the previous to enable students have an overall experience in learning the English language. Most students including Michael therefore enjoyed performing plays from the great novelist, William Shakespeare. Moreover, the plays provided for self-expression to develop the oratory skills of the students. Conversely, although Michael had difficulties in pronunciation, he was willing to work harder to improve on his areas of weakness. This further raised my incentive to help him eventually rein in the difficulties he faced. I further commend his former teacher for simplifying the process of learning the English language. For instance, the teachers seemed to have changed the notion of English as a complicated language full of difficult grammatical rules. By focusing on one aspect of the language at a time, Michael had an easier time at mastering the language (Lightbrown and Spada, 2011). Indeed, he must have been very lucky to have come to the best school and found the best teacher. Admirably, Michael's other colleagues though different nations, cultures and backgrounds all showed the same passion for learning the same language. This was a revelation on the unifying power of the school environment in general and the English language in particular. This feeling also encouraged me to advance my studies in ESOL since it has a very positive impact on the society.
Undeniably, Michael complemented his previous ESOL teachers on the enjoyable class sessions and occasionally wanted extensions. This show of appreciation further made the teachers work harder to ensure they give their best in all their lessons. Ultimately, he overall experience with Michael was a revelation on the real potential of ESOL teachers as important and powerful members of our society. I have plans in future to open a college to teach English as a second language in my home country of Argentina. I further plan to recruit young graduates to help me increase the penetration of English throughout Argentina.
Indeed, Nueva Esperanza's charter school offers the best ESOL classes to its students as was revealed during my interview with Michael. In addition, the lessons prepare the students for teaching in later years. Therefore, the school though imparting knowledge on a small group of students, the ripple effects of these efforts would eventually spread across the society. My experience from observing Michael imparting his skills in a formal conversation also makes me want to further my presence in this profession. I particularly complement the school for introducing practical lessons followed by evaluation that are critical in improving the students' confidence and teaching ability. Its impact was evident in Michael's composed nature and mastery of the English language. The interview with Michael also provided me with an opportunity to provide constructive criticism that would eventually help in shaping the future of teaching ESOL. I cherish that experience and would gladly do it again given another opportunity. Moreover, I commend Michael's current ESOL teacher for her exemplary work evident by his quick yet fruitful progress through the class. The young boy's family has also played a significant role in allowing the young boy to learn a foreign language despite the fear of him forgetting his origin. Finally, the acceptance and appreciation of the English language by the natives of Honduras should be welcomed and encouraged by recruiting more students to follow in Michael footsteps.
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