"Strange Stories" from Marie

Hello everyone,

I started volunteering at Condor Trust in Quito in January 2018. In this internship, I was given the opportunity to teach English on weekdays and violin over the weekends. However, I will be discussing and focussing on my experience as an English teacher. 

When I first started teaching in Quito, I noticed that speaking English was a challenge for many students. It was not apathy, as many were interested in learning. On the other hand, it was the way the language was being taught. As a result, I experimented with different methods such as smaller group discussions and more in-class activities, which I found extremely helpful in facilitating greater student engagement and in the process of learning.

First, smaller groups promoted a friendlier environment for in-class participation. From this, we created games to learn vocabulary. For example, as English-learners often confuse interrogative pronouns such as when/where/who, we made a game to help with memorization. I would write a list of all the pronouns on the board in English, and then I would call on a student for the Spanish equivalent. If he/she answered correctly, I would write it on the board (“when = cuando”). I would then ask another student for the next pronoun on the list. This process would continue until a student failed to give the correct answer. In this case, I would erase all the Spanish translations and we would start again from the top. This activity required close attention, as one mistake would affect the entire class. Yet, it was well received by my students: they enjoyed the challenge and finally learned and understood the different pronouns.

“Strange Stories” was another game that my students and I created. I would start off with the first sentence; my students would then take turns adding a sentence to the story by writing it on the board. This activity required quick thinking as the context of the story could change suddenly. In addition, students wanted to make funny stories, so they would ask for words they did not know. Therefore, I found “Strange Stories” to be a creative way for students to learn and practice new vocabulary, while trying to keep an organized and coherent story.