It’s been a little over a month that I’ve been an English teaching assistant. Of course, there were two weeks of vacation during this time, but I feel it’s time for an update on how the English assistant part of my life has been going. That is what I’m here for, right? I still really like my job as an assistant. I work with 20 different classes of all different levels and 9 different teachers. For the most part, I get to work with the students in small groups. So far, most of the teachers have been asking me to take the students and have conversations with them. With one of the teachers, I’ve been guiding discussions where students must identify documents. One of the documents she handed me was a campaign against racism, so that was a little interesting spur of the moment creating a comfortable environment for my students to talk about racism in relation to the document. I definitely had to provide lots of scaffolding to guide the conversation, it was a difficult document, but I was pleased that we were able to have good discussion about what assumptions the document held and how race might affect someone applying for a job, etc. Many teachers just tell me what to do when I walk in, so I don’t have much freedom in lesson planning except with one teacher in particular. I have limited materials for teaching anything anyways; no whiteboard, chalkboard, or anything in my little room, though I was provided three whiteboard markers. I was in charge of a class of 35 students by myself by mistake this week. The students were never given the message that their teacher would be absent so only some had to go to class. I had them work individually on their oral presentations and those that finished could practice with me. I went around the classroom to help with grammar and vocabulary and would occasionally stop the class to go over common mistakes. I was able to get them to all be quiet and listen to me and then they actually corrected the mistakes. Not sure if that means my classroom management skills are that good or it was just a really well-behaved bunch of students excited to work with the American assistant. Either way, I was pleased. One of the teachers told me that after working with me, the students are more confident and talkative when they return to class. Would I like to be able to do a bit more teaching rather than being asked to do conversations? Yes, but you know, since I was hoping to be asked to do more lessons by now, I can ask myself and see what the response will be. I’d love to teach something about fairtrade fashion to my BTS fashion students.
Every week, more students come to the English Club. The only problem is, we STILL don’t have a permanent place for it. The cafeteria is not going to work since it’s too crowded and noisy and we need to get permission for the students to eat in any of the other rooms. I know one student in particular really wants to come, but we keep being displaced from the cafeteria and other rooms, so he and his friends haven’t been able to find us. After one class, a few of my students came to discuss the problem with the teacher and I and they were thinking of protesting to the administration to get permission to eat in a classroom. My students want to protest for the English Club? They like me, they really like me! I have ideas for the club, such as perhaps setting up a pen pal exchange and creating some sort of publication, but we need to get settled somewhere first.
As far as the new apartment goes, I think it was probably the right choice. Did I think that the first few days? No, not at all. It was tough. It still can be tough. Living alone for the first time and in a foreign country to boot isn’t necessarily easy. There are both positives and negatives to living alone and it takes adjustment. I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy, but you know what, living alone isn’t always so terrible. Housing in the TAPIF program is something that you have little control over. You can fall into something wonderful or have to search a bit more. It’s potluck and not always like in L’auberge espagnol (though I now know why they translate it “Potluck” in English).