Let me start off by saying I didn’t come to Central America to teach English in Guatemala, nor anywhere else for that matter. I don’t consider myself an English teacher – I didn’t before this “experiment”, and still don’t after.
All that said, I’m starting to understand why some people teach; when students start to get engaged and you can see their progress, it can feel very rewarding.
A friend of mine was a volunteer teacher for a class of 9 to 13 year old girls four days a week, but didn’t realize that the class ran another four weeks after she was to leave the country. Another friend picked up the first week, while I found myself taking on the final three weeks.
Thus I became a volunteer English teacher. I must stress that I use the term “teacher” very loosely. I’ll also point out that this position isn’t the only one that doesn’t require any qualifications besides the ability to speak fluent English. I could go so far as to have a full time job teaching English in this country if I wanted as qualifications aren’t exactly required here. Teaching at the university level would require a few credentials however not a lot from what I’ve gathered.
The course I’m teaching doesn’t really have a curriculum and I don’t have a very useful book to work out of as what is provided is merely a photocopy of a useless book. I’ve more or less made up the home work as I go along since there didn’t seem to be any before I got there.
At best, I would say they are learning half as much English from me teaching them as I’m learning Spanish from them correcting my translations for them. But hey, it seems to be working; I feel like I’m actually forcing them to think. Best of all, they seem to actually like it; they’re proud of themselves when they can translate what I’ve scribbled on the whiteboard.
In a country where the prevailing method of instilling an education seems to be copying, I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. No, seriously, I saw the books the children in my host family had; the answers were beside the questions.
I’ve even gone so far as to start helping the lady who works at my hostel learn English as well. Apparently she started working there hoping it would teach her English, though she never told me this until I’d already been living there a month.
Not only has it been rewarding to help people learn, but I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to grow and learn in this process as well. It takes a lot to be able to break down an idea or a process and communicate that effectively in the same language. Add translations and that takes things to a whole other level.
So there you have it, apparently I’m an English teacher – unpaid mind you, but I’d still say I’m getting a lot out of this.