During today’s teacher training workshop, we went over the relationship between reading and listening. After explaining the pre, during and post stages of the reading process, we divided the teachers into 3 groups of 2 and had them read over the pre-printed sections of information we’d retrieved related to African American writers from the 1950’s. Each group was asked to become familiar with their section of the writings and discuss/clarify the information as a team. Next, we had them jigsaw and compare their information with that of the other teams. This brought about a lively discussion about authors and what it took during those time to get published. I gave a short review of the life and writings of Langston Hughes (poet, novelist, playwright, columnist and social activist).
Haley then followed up with a handout of Hughes’ fictional short stories, “Thank You, Ma’am.” She reiterated the pre, during, post reading technique and explained KWL (what you Know about a given topic, what you Want to know and what you Learned) We used this strategy, along with the reading, as an example of how the teachers might use it in their classrooms. We were encouraged by their engagement in the material and had to work hard not to continue the discussion further into the afternoon than we’d previously planned. Now that we know this, it might be good to have lessons like this the next time a Monterey team comes.
After the teacher workshop today we went to visit Shester’s English class. At last count, there were 83 students present, only 19 of whom were female. For the most part, the room was large enough to accommodate people. As the class progressed, more benches and chairs appeared. Shester began with general introductions. He then asked us to do an impromptu lesson. We were not sure of the language proficiency, so we started by asking all students who had at least two sisters to raise their hands. We then asked the 15 of them to come to the front of the class. Next, we asked each to tell his/her age so we could figure who was the oldest. Finally, we asked the oldest student, age 22 to talk about what it was like to have two sisters. We could tell from the response that our questions were clearly understood. We used this as a mini group language assessment.
We then divided the class into three groups to talk about how and why they were learning English and how they would use it in their lives. We circulated as they talked about it. Several students volunteered to come up to the board and write their thoughts on the board. For the most part, the students seemed willing to participate. However, when we asked for volunteers, the majority respondents were male. After having been asked, a few females came forward. The issue of the education of women and girls is one that I personally would like to further explore. It seems there is some disparity and I’d like to find out why.
The last thing we did with this class was to open up for a questions and answer period. Several students asked personal questions about marriage, love and relationships. They also wanted to know why we liked teaching English. An interesting thing happened while we were going through this process. There was a Haitian English teacher there named Supreme. He started to interpret some of the responses into Creole. After doing that a few times, he had one of this students who was training to be an interpreter come up and interpret our responses; sometimes into French, other times into Creole. It was interesting trying to find the rhythm of how much you could say before you had to stop for the interpreter. As an interpreter, I know how rough it can be, especially since most of the interpreting I’ve done is simultaneous. As the questions went on, Supreme had a few other students come up to interpret. Soon, the three of us had our own separate interpreter. Since most of the students speak at least Creole and French, an interesting future discussion might about adding English to their repertoire. This would obviously require much more intense study.