I have already written the first three parts of a series about my experience with Franco-African children, which proved that teaching in the target language is possible.

I have already written the first three parts of a series about my experience with Franco-African children, which proved that teaching in the target language is possible.
 
After meeting, Fabienne and Romain for a week, we were ready to set out to learn English. I'd like to highlight that the teaching-learning process wouldn't have been possible if rapport hadn't been established first.Luckily for me, Romain and Fabienne were very well-behaved and they felt eager to acquire some English. They had learned to trust me and I had learned to pay attention to all the signals they gave me -directly or indirectly.Fabienne started to call me her "butterfly", I liked it. A butterfly is beautiful and colourful. That nickname gave me a glimpse of what she felt for me. She also gave me an invaluable hand with Romain. Romain, in turn, felt happy throughout the classes and so did I.I noticed Fabienne liked songs, poems, literature. I didn't have access to a lot of materials in Paris but I did my best to cater for her needs. We had a famous book, which I particularly love, and I supplemented the classes with authentic material. I tried to appeal to her feelings in most of the tasks because she engaged in the activities more positively when I did. It was quite simple for me to teach her because her level of English was pretty good.Romain was a totally different story. I worked a lot with realia. I made posters and flashcards. I collected watercolours, scissors, cardboard, coloured crayons, clothes pegs, pencils, etc. The learning process was lots of fun. We moved around, we sang along the songs I took for the class, we made lots of materials in class. He learned basic things like introducing himself and his family, greetings, naming pets, likes and dislikes, basic ways to talk about his feelings.The learning process wasn't fast, esp. with Romain. It was meaningful. Once Fabienne or Romain grasped an idea, they internalized it. All in all, I'd say, it was very important for me to get to know these children and to gain their trust. I first observed the way they felt about me, the way they felt about themselves and the way they felt about the English language. I took note of their learning styles and learning strategies. The first 5 days and 20 hours together, we just worked on building rapport and becoming aware of who we were and how we felt.That first week paved the way for an incredible teaching-learning experience which flowed smoothly and at its own pace just because we respected our identities and feelings, we enhanced our potential and worked on areas that needed practice resorting to Fabienne and Romain's favourite channels of acquisition.When people ask me "how did you manage to teach children who didn't have any clue of Spanish?" I just say "communication in English was possible because we resorted to lots of non-verbal communication in the process". Was it simple? I don't know. Was it hard? Not at all. We came to a point where we felt like a tribe, which was very respectful of its objective -learning English- and like any tribe, we had a code of conduct, which we followed all the way.(I would like to thank Jane Revell and Susan Norman for the huge amount of insight they gave me into rapport and VAK when I read "In your hands")
 
Georgina Hudson's blogs are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
 

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