By Heather Hutcheson
Volunteer English teacher Heather reflects on her classes in the town of Tlacochahuaya as lessons come to an end for the holidays, and she says goodbye for now to her wonderful little students. We know the kids will miss coming to class during the break and will also be missing their teacher Heather until her return!
Teaching with En Vía is a priceless experience and one unmatched by other volunteer opportunities. You might think it is hard work, getting children to fall in love with English, but they are ready to learn and can pick up a list of twenty-five new sentences and know half of them in fewer than two hours. As a group, they now know hundreds of nouns and have the confidence to try out writing and speaking their own sentences in English.
One student, Kevin, writes: “Soccer is beautiful, and basketball is ugly.” And when we were practicing “to be” verbs, Jennifer and Mariel, twins, were delighted to see and understand a sentence that read: They are twins.
Getting to know more about all of the students is one of the most rewarding elements of this job. I know that they love to draw and especially enjoy using markers, and so we did many activities that involved drawing words. I also have learned they all like to play on the swings before class, and even the smallest girl, Magdalena, will fight for the green swing because it is the highest. The boys, without exception, draw hearts in their notebooks as often as the girls draw flowers. And of course, certain kids don’t like to share with certain others because of broken hearts and more minor infractions. Plus, certain people better not sit next to others because it disturbs the order of things.
Elizabeth likes to draw and eat fruit, but she doesn’t like melon, especially cantaloupe. Most of the students said their favorite food was soup: noodle and alphabet. And spinach, hamburger, and eggs Mexican style were among the foods that they don’t like to eat.
When Jennifer had a chance to write two sentences about things she dislikes, she took aim at the colors green and pink; she also dislikes soccer and kickball. Ulises, one of the younger members of our class, joined the team that dislikes kickball, spinach, and pineapple. Although he dislikes going to the doctor’s office, he aspires to be one in the future and so does Gabriel, Jennifer, and Narda.
Ulises and Gabriel like to go to the city, but they do not like to go shopping. Elizabeth wants to go to Cañada, a region of Oaxaca. Narda enjoys seeing movies and Abigail, who wants to be a police officer, wants to go to Huatulco. She was surprised to learn that city names, like Oaxaca and Huatulco, are the same in Spanish and English.
They’re growing up together, and they’re learning together in and outside of school. They all have big dreams for the future. Nearly half of the class wants to be doctors. Others want to be small business owners, or police officers, and there’s even a future racecar driver!
Every minute we had together, we spent learning and laughing and enjoying one another. In January they will meet another volunteer and another door to the language will be opened to them, and they, without hesitation, will settle right in.