In school with Mariam

When I was asked to give English classes to middle school kids at first I was excited and intrigued. I already have experience in working with kids, I have planned many workshops with them and many interesting projects but working with kids with language barriers was a new challenge for me. Since my Italian is still weak, I was not sure how well everything would go.

It all started with the meeting with the headmaster and the English teacher.I was asked to teach four classes, children aged from nine to eleven. We discussed what would be the best topics to teach to the kids and the ways we could implement them. Since I am from Georgia, a country which is not well known, we agreed during the meeting to make a small cultural exchange for the first lessons and talk about Tramonti and the beautiful Amalfi coast for the second. I was in close contact with the English teacher of the school who was helping me to prepare for the classes and giving me some helpful advice. I prepared small presentations and games for the first week and got ready to meet my new students.

Only after entering the school for the first time did I realise that I was a bit nervous but I could see how excited and curious the children were so that gave me more courage. Teacher in the class gave me their support and they were ready to help me with any kind of language barrier that we might face.I tried to adjust words to the kids level of english and use simple words that they would get familiar with and would remember, in addition I asked a student for a help with translation which encourages other pupils as well. I think the most memorable part for children was when I asked them to write their names in Georgian. I could tell they were more than happy to write their names in different alphabets and they had fun while doing so, some even went as far as to drawing Georgian and Italian flags in their notebooks. In school, I have two lessons a day, twice a week and time is passing by fast. For the second week I put classes in groups and written on a paper I gave each one of them The Amalfi coastal area they could talk about and introduce to me. Students took this task seriously and each group was trying their best to describe the beauties of Amalfi coast in English with a little bit of Italian as well. By this time I had already realised that we were getting along and they liked communicating with me and they were more determined to learn English so they would be able to ask me questions and play various games. For the next week children themselves suggested some educational games, such as “miming” and they had to use their english skills in order to guess correctly and get the score.

Naturally all four of the classes are different, some are really active and they all try to talk with me at the same time even if they mostly use Italian, some are a bit quiet and shy about speaking. All the classes and all the children need different approaches but the thing that makes me the happiest is that they all want to learn and show so much enthusiasm. During the last classes of this year we even had some karaoke and I could see they were feeling more confident with their English skills.

I am delighted that I was given this chance to go to schools and have such a great experience with them.

My mother is a teacher in a middle school as well.When I told her about my experience, she got really curious and suggested to have a cultural exchange, and to have an online meeting with her class. I introduced this Idea to the school in Tramonti as well and for the future we are planning a cultural meeting up, where for a lesson children will be able to communicate with each other and exchange some cultural facts about their countries.

I can not wait to continue my journey with these amazing kids and see the result that it will give us in the future.

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