One of the best parts of my final year here so far has been the continuation of the English Club I do with students in grades 7 through 9 at my school. I started the club last winter in February and had about 70 students sign up and about 50 students regularly show up. We took a break over the summer other than a couple weeks when we had a summer English Club/Camp, but started up again in October. Last year’s ninth grade students have moved on to other school, so the new seventh grade students got to join us. I had about 55 students sign up, and about 35-40 attend every week.
There are three mixed-grade-level groups and each group meets once a week for an hour. My site mate, who teaches health at the school, sometimes helps out, and one of my partners also attends sometimes. This semester, we covered a variety of topics including: introductions and greetings, talking about ourselves, numbers (from simple numbers to more complicated numbers like 5,406,827,359), Halloween, how to research, Thanksgiving, winter holidays (Christmas, New Year, and Hanukkah), and a United States of America states project. We’ve played games, used whiteboards for practice, had conversations, talked about American culture, and worked in teams to create posters.
There are a number of reasons I love doing the English Club so much. I like that there is no set curriculum and what we do each week can be tailored to what the students need more practice on (like saying numbers) or are interested in (like American holidays and traditions). It’s also nice to be able to teach in a more relaxed setting, as we don’t need to worry about grades or do things in a way that we are expected to do when teaching normal lessons.
Most of all, I love the opportunity to get to know my students better. During class, we have a lot to cover in a very small amount of time, so things need to be rigidly scheduled. During English Club, we can take time to have conversations and I have more time to work one-on-one with a struggling student or in smaller groups. I feel like the club has allowed me to get to know my students on a more personal basis, and I also have more opportunities to share about myself, my family, why I am here in Moldova, and about American culture.
The students are very curious about my life in the United States and my American family! Last week, I talked to my dad briefly while one of the groups were working on a poster project. When the students realized I was speaking English on the phone, they were silent! They looked at me in awe as I rapidly (well, to them) spoke English. After, they told me, “Wow! You speak so quickly in English when you speak to other Americans!”.
I can’t wait to start the club up again after our winter vacation, and know that I will dearly miss these students when I leave Moldova in a few short months.