The Joy of Teaching

Guest post by summer intern Caitrin Rhoads


Hi!  My name is Caitrin, and I am one of the 8-week summer interns here at Manna Ecuador.  Our new 4-week interns just arrived this weekend.  Welcome, Charlotte, Naafeh, and Jose!
                One of the main reasons I chose to spend this summer with Manna was to teach English classes.  The day before I came to Ecuador, I graduated with my MAT (Master’s in the Art of Teaching), so I was excited to get experience in a new kind of classroom setting here in Ecuador.  Teaching English is difficult in many ways, but also very rewarding!
                Twice a week, many of us interns help out with one of the Program Directors’ English classes.  The class I help with is the most basic level of children’s English.  This means that the children have very limited vocabulary, and 95% of the class is in Spanish.  Greg and I teach using lots of games and songs to keep the kids interested and awake- an hour and a half of English is tough after a full day of school!  One game we’ve been playing more recently that the kids love is a variation on Duck, Duck, Goose.  Instead of saying “duck” and “goose,” we have the kids say things that often sound the same when they pronounce them: “hat” and “cat,” “pink” and “pig,” or “back” and “black,” for example.  I try to get the kids speaking in complete sentences as frequently as possible even with their limited vocabulary.  This often entails passing a ball around the circle saying things like “Hello, Juan.  How are you?”  “I’m fine.  Hello, Anahi.  How are you?” “I’m fine.  Hello…”  Well, you get the idea.


                I also teach a basic children’s English class on Saturday afternoons with Adriana, another 8-week intern.  This has been a neat experience because it is all us- no Program Directors involved!  This means we have had to step up to plan and teach the lessons on our own.  Adriana’s Spanish and my training as a teacher make us a pretty good team!  This past Saturday, we taught our class the months in English and had them think of holidays that are in each month.  She and I ended up learning as much as the kids did, since we had never heard of Ecuadorean holidays like Día del Escudo (Day of the Ecuadorean seal/ crest) or Día de la Batalla de Pichincha (Day of the Battle of Pichincha, a nearby mountain).   


                Other interns help with more advanced children’s English classes, or even with near-fluent adult English classes on Saturday mornings.  This past Saturday, I got to sub for PD Tori’s class because she was in Otavalo.  This was a big change of pace from my two classes!  I might have said about 5 words in Spanish the entire time, and we were able to read an advanced article and debate whether or not voting should be mandatory in Ecuador (as of now, it is- nonparticipants pay a fine that increases each time they do not vote). 
                Getting to help Ecuadoreans of all ages (I help at the preschool and a local college, as well!) learn English has given me lots of experience that will make me a better teacher back in the States in the fall.  It has also shown me how complicated the English language can be!  Most of all, though, it has given me the opportunity to form some meaningful relationships as I let my students teach me a thing or two about Spanish, Ecuadorean culture, and the beauty of lifelong learning.