I have already written the first part of a series I'm intending to write about my experience with Franco-African children, which proved that teaching in the target language is possible. Neither these children nor me had any knowledge of our respective mother tongues but we made it.
Teaching by buildind rapport part 2:
I wondered on my way to my students' house if I was the one who was learning in the process. I felt life was trying to tell me something. These children were a blessing to me. I'd been living in Paris for a while without so much to do having done all the touristic circuit in a previous trip. These meetings with Fabienne and Romain gave a lot of sense to my stay.
I'm always asking myself how to live meaningfully and I always find the same answer in my heart "I live meaningfully by loving life and embracing it" I'm not talking about romantic love, I'm talking about love as a state of living. Romain, the day before, had shown me love at a much more profound level than any other student in my past.
I arrived at their house and they welcomed me warmly at the door. Their parents were working in the afternoons, when we met, and Fabienne was in charge of the house, the tutorials, and her brother. I was almost moved to tears - Romain opened his arms as a way of telling me he wanted to embrace me (just like I'd done the day before). I said "hello" and both of them went "hello" and we cuddled. I was thrilled.
When we went to the study, I improvised some costumes, I changed the tone of my voice and I asked Romain to wait for me inside the study. I opened the door and said "hello" using funny voices, Romain always repeated "hello" and then I commented on things in the study, Romain looked at me and said "je ne sais pas" and raised his shoulders. I smiled and waved him goodbye, accompanying the gesture with the words "Bye", which he repeated. I left the room.
We went through the procedure several times, I changed voices, and body language (I pretended to be an old lady, or a serious man, for ex) and we exchanged "hello. I'm X person" Romain greeted me and appeared to enjoy the acting and then I left the room and said "bye" and he repeated.
When I went into the room for the third or fouth time, Romain was sitting at his desk, he didn't look at me in the eye and was very busy drawing some things. I felt discouraged but I hid my feelings. I said "Great, show me" (I always varied my tone of voice for him to have some clue about what I was trying to communicate) and sat down next to him. He never looked at me, I didn't ask him to do it. I just looked at his pictures.
I pointed at one of them and said "blue" and then I took his blue pencil and said "blue" again. He turned, looked at me and I said "blue" and he smiled his most irresistible smile and repeated "blue" and we went on doing the same with the rest of the primary colours.
I took advantage of some flashcards I'd carried along with me and we identified the colours together. I turned the flashcards over and mixed them. Romain had to find the appropriate colour flashcard. Then I said "listen" pointing at my ear and I added "and point" and I showed him how to point. I was lucky Romain was an adorable boy. He knew what to do and did it very well.
So, we started playing "listen and point" (and I called out a colour) and "listen and touch". I decided to complicate it a little and I hid the fashcards under a paper. The colours were quite visible. Romain could see through the paper most of the times but not all the times.
Time was up and I opened my arms and hugged him, I kissed his curly hair and left the room waving and saying "bye" Romain smiled and said "Bye". Fabienne was waiting for her learning turn outside the study.
My head was spinning, I felt a mix of confusion and excitement about Romain's classes but my question was: Is he actually learning anything? I must say, I was deflated when he refused to look at me and pretended to be engaged in his drawings but I understood he was trying to tell me that he was bored, or simply, that he wanted to paint.
Fabienne showed Romain to some other place in the house, and we started the class. Fabienne was tired. She needed to talk. I sat down near her and we started to chat. It was simpler with Fabienne as she had an intermediate level of English.
Her eyes were very telling. They showed me the tip of the iceberg she held inside. I just smiled and listened. She relaxed and opened up.
<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/"><img alt="Licencia de Creative Commons" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-nd/3.0/88x31.png" /></a><br /><span xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" href="http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/Text" property="dc:title" rel="dc:type">Rapport as a primary element to teaching</span> by <a xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" href="www.georginahudsonteaching.blogspot.com; www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/georginahudson" property="cc:attributionName" rel="cc:attributionURL">Georgina Hudson</a> is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License</a>.<br />Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at <a xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" href="firstname.lastname@example.org" rel="cc:morePermissions">email@example.com</a>.