Back to Teaching English

It was after a few months that I got back to teaching English. On a request of a friend, I started an English tuition class for primary kids in Colombo.  The last time I did a tuition class was last year in Anuradhapura for three OL students and 2 of them got A passes while the other who did less homework secured a B pass.

I was not that interested in teaching primary kids earlier but yesterday, it was a different story. 9 boys and a girl had got together for the class and they had come with their parents amidst the torrential rains. First I talked to the parents for a few minutes and asked if the parents need just to increase the marks at the term tests of the students or me to provide a holistic English education that enable the students to speak, write, read and listen to English. If they chose the latter, it will take some time and the parents will have to wait for few months to see results. Parents preferred the second option. I said I would be using computers and internet a lot as teaching aid, and other reading, listening, speaking and writing material will be prescribed later. Parents and the kids equally liked the idea of computers being used. All children except one had computers at home and some had internet too.

Then started the class. I went to the class without much preparation as I had no idea about the English standards of the children. I insisted that the whole class will be done in English and no Sinhala explanations will be given. Students too will have to express themselves in English. It became successful from the very beginning.

We started with self-introductions and informal talks and I felt that the students’ English knowledge was pretty impressive. With this rate, students will be able to speak English in few months’ time and other skills also can be developed faster than I anticipated. I can download the necessary material from the internet and go to few bookshops and DVD shops as well. Kids these days need more technology to learn and we have to make the classroom an exciting place for them. Though the government has provided new technology and teacher training to the public school system, the instances of them being used is scarce due to various reasons. This is why a need has been created for private tutoring by adding an additional burden to parents’ pockets.

Janadhi was a very energetic and talkative girl who understood almost everything I said and responded quicker than others. She had a bigger vocabulary than the others and was a quick learner too. Anupama, a boy with an innocent look was the next best in responding and he was not shy to sing and talk. Sachithra was a very good cartoonist and drew a picture of Spiderman exactly like the original. The pint-sized Yuhan, though a Montessori student, was very active and knew words than some of the other students did. Ravindu was a very quiet student and did not answer a single question I asked. But I didn’t pressurize him at all and let him build his own confidence slowly. In few minutes he started responding slowly and there was applause from the other students for the every answer he gave. In no time, his shyness vanished and he began to respond like the other kids. Visal was a quieter student too, maybe due to lack of exposure and confidence, but will follow others very soon.

From the next week onwards, we will video some lessons of the class and let the students see how they perform by playing the video for them. This would help them to avoid mistakes and build up their confidence levels. This is something I tested at Horizon Lanka successfully.

Some of the parents stayed in the classroom till it was over as the rains prevented them leaving the classroom. According to my friend, the parents are satisfied with the class and they too needed an English class for adults. This is something I have to take time and decide.