Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kids Say the Darnest Things (during their oral exams)

Well, we had our oral exams today. They went a lot better than I expected. Some of the kids that I thought weren't going to do as well actually did pretty good, and the ones that I thought would do amazing did about as well as I had thought.

There were a few technical difficulties along the way, but it worked out well. I had 4 different people that talked to my kids, and it was nice just to get to see them for a minute while testing.

The procedure was fairly simple. I had a set of 8 questions for each child, and sent them in written form to the person asking. They then went through them one at a time. If the kid answered right away, they moved to the next question. If they didn't, I had them ask the question up to 3 times. When there was background noise interference or the sound cut out, I gave them a few more tries if they needed it.

As I said, most of them did pretty well. The problem, though, is that a lot of them just follow the other kids as we've been practicing in class, or someone else whispers the answer to them. Some of them had clearly studied and knew what the questions were, and what their answer was supposed to be. Others got confused as to what the question was, or just weren't really listening. I think some of them were just trying too hard, too.

I love my kids and am proud of them, but I just have to share some of the cute mistakes that they made.

Q: What is the name of your brother?
A: Your name is Daniel.
(This is totally understandable because we haven't gone over his/her/your/etc. very well, but it made me laugh nonetheless.)

Q: How old are you?
A: My name is 7.
Q: What is your favorite class?
A: My name is English.
(Sometimes, they just get caught up in trying to get out a complete sentence and don't really stop to think about what the right complete sentence is.)

Q: What do you see with?
A: Yes.
(She was completely confused on this one, so I tried to help her by reminding her it was a science question, and even gave her the start of the correct answer: "I see with my..." But, there was a communication failure there, and she turned to the person and answered "Yes.")

Q: What do you smell with?
A: I smell with my house.
(He might have actually said "nose," but it really sounded like "house" to me.)

Q: What color is a tiger?
A: Yellow.
(This made the person asking laugh, but it's actually the right answer in that one of the pictures of a tiger we use was colored yellow, so that's where he got that from.)

Q: What do you touch with?
A: How are you?
Q: What color is Luigi?
A: I am good.
(This is one of the kids that doesn't pay a lot of attention in class, and clearly does not do much studying at home. Which is sad, because he's a bright kid. What really kills me is some of the other kids heard the question about Luigi and were whispering the answer to him. I had thought it would be easy, but I guess not.)

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: My names pink.
(Another example of getting caught up on trying to get out a complete sentence without thinking about what the right words actually should be.)

Q: How old are you?
A: I am good.
Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: I am cat.
Q: What animal do you have at your house?
A: I am dog.
Q: What do you see with?
A: I am six... I see with 5.
Q: What color is your shirt?
A: I am... It is... I am green.
(She had a couple of the basic question/answers mixed up, but basically got the answer part ok. She's just really caught up on "I am." Her homework also reflects this when they have to make up sentences.)

After we were done with the exams, they got a special treat from one of my friends back home. She put on a finger puppet play for them and sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" with them. Although most of the boys had lost interest by the end, they did have fun watching and singing along. I got a video of them which I hope to get posted. I have a lot of videos that I hope to post... I should get on that.

Anyway, the hardest part was getting the rest of the class to be quiet. Sadly, I wasn't able to get the TV in the hall working because of the situation of the plugs, so I let them have some free time with options like Playdoh, coloring, reading books, or doing puzzles. I warned them right from the beginning that the normal discipline system was not in place today.

Normally, they get an "x" put on the board if they choose to break a class rule. Once they get 3 x's, they have to write a page of sentences, usually "I will sit and be quiet." But today, it was made clear that any talking would just get a page of sentences. After many threats, warnings, and pages handed out, I decided to go with bribery. It was near the end of the hour or so of testing, so they were starting to get antsy.

I pulled out the movie Toy Story which I had brought for them to watch in the cafeteria, and wrote "Toy Story" on the board. Another form of discipline I have in place is on Thursdays for music class. I put 5 to 6 music notes on the board, the number of songs they get to dance to if they behave. When they're not behaving, I erase the songs, one at a time. So, I did the same with the letters in the movie.

That seemed to work well, but they still ended up losing all the letters, mostly because I realized that we had too many pages in our last book to finish to enjoy a movie for the last class of the day. They sort of all had a meltdown when they found out they couldn't watch the movie. Partly because they wanted to watch it, but also because they were hot since the air had to be left off to hear during the exams.

I also wanted to just put on a movie, but knew it was important to pound out the last few pages, which were all pretty simple anyway. With the air cranking, I clapped my hands a lot and yelled "Let's go!" as excitedly as I could at that point, and they perked up soon enough. They got eager to get through the pages, so they paid attention and did their work quickly.

They finished right as class officially ended at noon, but told them I would put on the movie anyway. Over half of them stay for at least half an hour after class ends, and I have 4 of them that are there until the older kids are let out at 1:30. That sealed their happiness, and I got to enjoy a quiet afternoon of watching one of my favorite movies with my favorite children.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Last (real) Day of School

So, today was my last real full day of school with my kids. It's technically tomorrow, but we're doing oral exams/watching a movie for most of the afternoon, so it's not really a normal day for my kids.

Tuesdays tend to be easy for me, because I only have every other class with them, and one of those classes is Art, so it just ends up being kind of a fun day for them. Their Tuesday schedule is this: Bible (w/ someone else), Art, Lunch/Recess, Spanish (w/ someone else), Reading, P.E. (w/ someone else), and English. So half their classes are electives.

And this morning, their Bible teacher wasn't here in time to start class, so I started them with Art early. This being our last art class, I just let them free paint for the whole time. They always love that. Because things have been going well in art class with only a few things to clean now that I tape newspapers to their tables for them to work on, I usually find an extra paintbrush and will do a painting of my own in between helping them with various things.

This time, one girl told me to draw a flower, and another a heart, so I opted to make a flower with petals shaped like hearts. It turned out super cute, but that tends to backfire, because then all the girls want to paint something as cute as mine, and most of them are just not that skilled of artists yet. But they don't quite get that I've been doing this for like 3 times as long as they've even been alive, so they're not going to be as skilled as me. And that's ok.

But, overall it went well and we actually managed to get to lunch mostly on time. The rest of the day also went well, and we had a spelling bee at the end of the day. We've never done anything like that at first, so it took them a minute to catch on, but once they knew what I wanted and I told them they'd get prizes, they all participated eagerly.

I put all of their names on the board in the order that they're sitting in class, and then gave the first word to the first girl. Depending on their mistake, I would sometimes pause and let them try again. Especially with the letter "i." In Spanish, "i" is pronounced like we say "ee," so they would often say "e" when they were thinking "i." So I gave a lot of leeway with that one. If they made a few mistakes or definitely said the wrong letter, the word got passed to the next kid.

If they did get the word right, I put a star by their name. Once they got 3 stars, they got a mini marshmallow, their name got erased, and they were out of the game, but in a good way. Honestly, that started when one of the kids had 2 stars and I was still trying to figure out how to incorporate the marshmallows when she asked, "What happens with 3 stars?" Since I occasionally can think fast, I whipped out the mini marshmallows and declared, "You get to eat a mini marshmallow in the class!"

That's the point when it got really serious. Not only were they getting a treat, but they also got to EAT IN THE CLASS, which is one of the things that is forbidden in class, like running. It was funny to see them sit up straighter and eagerly try to get it right once there were marshmallows involved. :)

Even though we've NEVER done this before, they did so well that I ran out of the spelling words that I'll be testing them on in the exams, so I had to think of some older spelling words that they had until everybody got 3 stars and had won the game.

At the end of the class period, it was just Emy that had only 1 star, so I decided to dismiss the class. Since the marshmallows had actually been a random gift from one of the second graders and I didn't really want them anyway, I offered them 2 each on their way out for telling me something they had learned.

The point of the "tell me something you learned today" game is for them to tell me something from that day, but most of them give me random things that we haven't talked about in a while. But, since they're giving me things in English and then telling me what they are in Spanish correctly, I count it. I had one kid who's really good at math that told me he learned "sums." We didn't even do math today, so I asked him what 1 + 3 is, and it took him all of 1 second to do it in his head. This is the same kid that declared himself "El rey de sumas" last week, and I totally agree.

At any rate, everyone else filed out of the class while Emy sat and watched, sad that she had not been able to spell enough words right. Surprisingly, she didn't cry. The funny thing was that she knew a lot of them, but couldn't come up with the name of the letter, even when I had her looking up at the alphabet on the wall.

At one point, she was trying to spell the word "pig." She got the first 2 letters, but was stuck on the "g." I kept making the sound for her, but she would just repeat the sound back to me. I asked her "What is that letter?" but she couldn't come up with it. She then started drawing the letter in the air, which is when I had her stand to look at the alphabet, hoping she would be able to pick out the letter that she was writing in the air. She couldn't.

So, after the rest of the kids were gone, I sat her down at my desk and helped her sound and spell out some letters, using Spanish lessons to help her hear and make connections. With the word "can," she got the first 2 letters fine, but couldn't figure out that it was an "n" until I said "na ne ni no nu." Because the vowels are all pronounced the same no matter what, they learn by connecting different consonants to the vowels. As soon as I said that, she knew what the letter was, and wrote it down.

I gave her 3 stars on the paper, and then gave her a marshmallow. Then she got two more for telling me something she learned, and all was right in the world.

I don't know if she's a tad dyslexic or just very visual and had a hard time saying the letters out loud and remember the names of all of them. She does occasionally write letters and numbers backwards, so I'll have to keep an eye on her as we start up again next year. She's also one of the younger 5-year-olds, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that she's having some trouble.

So that was pretty much my day. After school I got to have a good talk with one of the camp staff that I'll be working with in a few weeks. Tomorrow we have our oral exams where the kids will have to talk to friends of mine from the States, answering a few questions that we've been practicing. This will not only show me that they know them as individuals and don't just chime in with the kids that studied, but will also help me see that they do understand and can be understood in English outside of the class. It's important to me that they understand English when people other than me speak it to them. So, that will be tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have some stories to tell about that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Silent and Gifted Children

So, yesterday I was super impressed by the behavior of the kids at the school where I went to observe, and was nervous because the teachers from that school were coming here after recess. You can read more about that in my previous blog, if you haven't already.

Today, I started teaching after lunch as the two women arrived and found seats in my class. As I started with the lesson, I was shocked to find my kids to be SILENT. They were yelling out answers, but only the answers as I asked them. And when I was done asking the question, they stayed quiet until I asked another one.

It pretty much continued like that for the whole hour that the women were there. It was crazy. I would often see them glance sideways at the strangers who were watching them as they gave their answer, hoping that they were looking and impressed with their answers.

I was surprisingly not as nervous as I thought I would be as I started teaching. I just chose to ignore the presence of the other women and just made sure my kids looked extra smart and good. :) It took a lot of effort for me not to try to show up the other teachers. Your kids can sing 8 little songs in English? My kids can sound out the word "alligator." My kids are also starting on identifying the noun and verb part of sentences, which I'm really proud of them for starting to understand. :)

So, my kids were much better than I expected, and I was super proud of them. I'm also a little disappointed in the fact that they are clearly capable of behaving well, but they just choose not to every other day. Ah, well. They have some good days and some bad days. It comes with the territory. They still did pretty well after the women left, so that was good because the plans for the day weren't enough to fill the time we planned for, and I had them for another hour after that.

I just have to share one HUGE triumph for one of my kids. We were trying to identify good/bad sentences by the structure of the sentences, which was hard for them since they barely know the meaning of all the words. One pair of sentences was this:

The man sat.
Man sat the.

When I asked if "Man sat the." was a good sentence or a bad sentence, I got mixed replies, so I asked them "Why is it good?" or "Why is it bad?" I noticed Dennisito's face look especially intense as he looked at that sentence, and I knew he wasn't just guessing when he said it was a bad sentence.

So, I let him explain, and he managed to get out, "porque es no 'man sat the.' Tiene que ser 'the man sat.'" Although he couldn't quite explain why he knew it was wrong, it was clear to me that he knew it was wrong, and could easily see which one was right.

That was really encouraging to me. I can only hope that the other kids can start to get to that level by the end of the year. He's really smart so he tends to pick things up first, but it's a good indication that the other kids CAN learn it, too. They just need a little more time and practice. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Visiting Another School

I was informed a little while ago that come May, I would have to go to another school to observe and take notes on another Prepatoria teacher, and that someone would be coming to observe me as well. I sort of forgot about it, but last week I found out that was happening this week.

So, today was the day that I went to another school to observe. The name of the school is Trinity Christian School, and what was strange to me is that the school only has about half as many students as Eagle's, but over twice as many grade levels. They go all the way from Kinder (preschool) to 7th grade (high school). Most of their grade levels only have 1-3 students, and some don't have any.

It's a very small school operating out of a converted house, and they put at least 3 grade levels in each class. I can't imagine how difficult that would be to have to teach different things to different kids that are all in the same class, but that's the way they do it there. It was a cute and very nice little school, though.

There were 10 kids in the class, but only 2 or 3 of them were in Preparatoria. They started by singing a number of songs together by watching these videos the teacher played on her computer. They were all simple kid's songs with shapes, letters, numbers, and colors, and the kids knew all the words. Despite us watching like 8 of these little videos in a row, the kids were still attentive and singing along even at the end.

Then, they were separated by age and sat at different tables and were given counting worksheets to complete. They did so in near silence. A couple of the boys were talking, and the teacher immediately gave a soft warning to be quiet, and they were quiet after that.

It was incredible. And now I'm scared for what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow, they're coming to my class to watch me teach. Not only are my kids already a little bit crazier than what I saw there, but the teachers are coming after recess, when they're at their worst.

Both Tammy and I have had talks with them about what's going to happen tomorrow that they need to listen and be quiet and do their work and so on, but we'll see what tomorrow brings. I just hope that they'll be shy having strangers in the room and want to be extra good to show off.

We're also doing things a little bit differently tomorrow which will hopefully keep their attention better than usual, so that should also help. We have a few worksheets for them to color and work on, which will also help keep them busy. It's usually when they're finished and I'm waiting on a few kids to finish that the rest start to go a little crazy.

So, yeah. In other news, I'm now 23 days away from being back in the States, so it's coming up fast. I'm excited, but also keeping focused in the here and now so I don't slack off at the end of the school year. We have exams coming up in just a couple of weeks, and I'm already through the planning part of that. I now just have to get the actual exams made up and then get them printed. I'm also going to be giving an oral exam next week, which should be interesting.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Saving Imagination of Kids

I just wanted to share what a blessed day I had yesterday after a pretty disappointing weekend. Saturday was disappointing because I had plans with a friend to go to a worship service/concert that they have every week at the Music Garage. I was supposed to go with her and some of her friends, but when I sent her a message on facebook she told me she was visiting her family (6ish hours away) and wouldn't be going.

The bright spot in my Saturday involved the purchasing of a new guitar from a member of the English church. It's cute and black and the strings are nice and close to the frets so I can easily hold them down. And it came with a super nice bag that I also love. And it was a really good deal.

But, it didn't change the fact that the event I was looking forward to all week wasn't going to happen. I ended up being really pouty and just watched movies all evening and went to bed early. I probably could have handled that better...

So, Sunday morning with everyone at church was a welcome relief, and a huge blessing. After church, I was invited to one couple's house, who was having another family from the church over. Pauline and Jay have 3 girls that I've gotten to know a little and love, so I was excited to get to spend time with them.

I helped MaryKay prepare the food, and managed to slice my finger with a difficult can of beans, which reminded me once again how often I injure myself doing the most mundane things, but usually come out unscathed from things that are relatively dangerous. At any rate, the meal was absolutely amazing, and the fellowship was even better.

Most of the games I played with the girls were crazy and worth mentioning. I played PollyPockets with the 8-year old, who concocted such a story line that I couldn't believe it. The first character I was playing got locked into the tower by her sister (played by Abigail), and then I played a man trying to save her who was repeatedly severely injured in his attempts. After my guy shocked by the electric fence or fell while parachuting, she would calmly announce, "Now he's out of the hospital" and he would try again. After several near-escapes and stints in jail, he did eventually save her, only to die in the process, but not before I managed to have them get married while parachuting to safety.

The next thing I played was fairly simple, but ended up being hilarious. I was playing with a baby doll with Lilian, and at first I was the Mommy and she was the Daddy, but then when the baby was hungry, we apparently switched roles because then she was feeding the baby, as she put it, "with the milk that's in my tummy." She actually lifted her shirt and held the baby to her chest, and her dad and I had a good laugh about it.

After eating some delicious cookies for desert and getting in a little more "adult time," I went outside to play with the girls. All four of us climbed onto the swing on the swingset that has the two seats facing each other and that you move by pushing on the floor with your feet. Abigail immediately informed us all that she was the "porter" and that we were taking a trip all the way around the world, via underwater tunnels. As we enjoyed various activities and ate delicious meals in the dining car, we were able to see 3 different kinds of whales, and made stops in Nicaragua, China, and many others. It was a great trip.

They then drove me home, and Lilian played doctor with me. First, I got a full check-up that involved getting a shot, checking blood pressure, and taking my temperature. After that, I asked her about a bug bite that I had gotten on my hand earlier that was red and already formed a decent welt. She said she'd take it off and found a scalpel and pair of scissors in the doctor kit. She then proceeded to remove my entire hand. When I asked her what I was supposed to do without a hand, she said she'd put it back on, and did so quickly. It was great. Whenever I questioned her methods, she always pointed to her badge and said, "Don't worry. I'm a doctor," and I always felt reassured.

Oh, the games kids play! They have such an imagination, and it's sad to me that so many people seem to lose that as they get older. Of all the things to leave behind after childhood, your imagination is not one of them. It opens the door to endless possibilities and allows you to take journeys unlike any other. I know for me, yesterday, it pulled me out of the bad mood I was in and reminded me that there's so much more to living than being able to go to concerts with friends.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tree Tag

Today, I was playing tag with the kids after school. But let me back up.

Right after school, I was more tired than usual, and when just Gissel was finishing up, I asked her if I could sleep. She told me I could and scampered out of the class. I laid my head down on my desk and closed my eyes to rest for a few minutes.

Not one minute later, Dayanira burst into the class saying loudly, "Miss, no sleep in the class!!" No sleeping in class being a rule, of course, I was obliged to lift my head up. But then Gissel came back in and told me I could sleep, so I put my head back down. Dayanira objected to this once again, and asked me to come out and play with them.

Seeing as we had just been talking about what's good/bad for the body and I had made it clear that playing is good, I decided to put my words into action and got up to play outside with them. We went into the back where the swings are and started a game of tag.

The thing about playing tag with your students is that they all want to tag... YOU. So, it didn't really matter who I tagged, because chances were pretty good that they were going to turn and chase me down until I got caught again. Seeing as I was in flip-flops and was either running on loose dirt or smooth cement, running was hard enough without getting a break.

When I started feeling winded, I sat and just took a break for a few minutes. Once I was recovered, I decided to join back in. But what I didn't realize is that they had changed the game and failed to inform me of the new rules. So, when I finally let Gissel catch me because I was tired of running, I thought I was it and tried to tag somebody else, but I then had several kids running up to me and tagging me.

I was confused, but ended up just running around tagging people aimlessly as they tagged me. Then, I suspected they were playing freeze tag, since some of the kids would freeze upon getting tagged, and then run again when they were tagged by someone else. Then, I randomly got swarmed by a bunch of children and we were all just sort of standing there.

Dennisito announced that he had a flower and something about fire, and some of the other kids were also yelling random things that I didn't quite understand. Finally, I threw my hands up and announced that I was a tree. It seemed like the only reasonable thing to do at that point.

I was joined by several other kids who also declared themselves to be trees, and we stood in a little grove as some of the others still ran here and there. Shortly after that we were interrupted by the rain, and I'm still not entirely sure what we were playing.

At any rate, it was fun, and my kids are generally hilarious.

DRAMAtic kids

Ok, so it's not real drama that I'm going to talk about. It's just how dramatic kids can be about some things.

Yesterday, my kids that stay until the 1st and 2nd graders are done were outside with the older grades who had P.E. My kids were just playing soccer on the field while the older kids had class on the basketball court. Suddenly, I had Josue come in to tell me that Jazer fell and was bleeding. By the look on his face, you'd think that there were compound fractures involved, so I calmly got up to follow him outside.

When I got out there, Jazer was sitting on the ground surrounded by several kids and their P.E. teacher. He was crying and holding his leg. I walked over to him to survey the damage. There, on his ankle, was.... A SINGLE DROP OF BLOOD!!!!

At that point, I knew he would live, and I was fairly certain I'd be able to salvage his foot, too, so I lifted him up and made him walk inside. We were almost halfway to the building when he started putting weight on his injured foot. Still sniffling and spitting accusations at our entourage, I sat him down on a chair in the office and pulled on some plastic gloves and pulled supplies from our first aid kit.

First I used dry cotton to get the blood off. This apparently caused him great pain as he gasped and stiffened. Mostly I held back a laugh. Then, I cleaned it off with hydrogen peroxide, which I know did hurt some, and he reacted accordingly. Once the area was cleaned up a bit, I saw that it was not a fresh cut, but a halfway healed scab that had fallen off just in the middle.

I applied some triple antibiotic ointment, which also caused a surprising amount of discomfort, and then a band-aid, which scared him because it was "so big." Once he pulled his shoe and sock back on, he limped off to return to the game, and was running around like nothing was wrong about 5 minutes later. The amount of drama one kid can stir up with such a small injury never ceases to amaze me, and I had a good laugh with another teacher after he was gone.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

SUMMER PLANS (por fin)

I'm not going to lie. Despite my best efforts, I almost just once again forgot to post this blog... :D

I realized that I hadn't posted this while talking with my parents on Skype recently when my mom was surprised at my plans for the summer. The problem is I put something about it on facebook when I first bought my plane tickets and then forgot to put it in a blog, where more people read it, I think. I know my mom checks my blog and expects information from there more than my facebook, at least.

At any rate, here's what I'm doing for the summer, during which time you should definitely not expect updates.

I am leaving Honduras early in the morning on June 14th. That's a Thursday, and it's the day before school actually ends. I was told it was the day after school ended when I bought my ticket, and then that changed, so I'll be missing the last couple of days of school and my kids graduation. Although this makes me sad, there is a reason for my rushing to get back to Michigan.

I will be working at WILDWOOD this summer!!!!!!!! I'm super excited about it. It'll be a great way to recharge and serve during the summer while making some money. :) Staff training there starts on the 8th of June, but because I've been through it so many times before, it's not imperative that I'm there for all of it, but it was important that I get there as soon as possible. So, I'll be flying out on the 14th of June.

When I bought my ticket, I had the option of a short or long layover in Florida. I have a good friend that lives in Florida, so I talked to her and opted for the 6 hour layover so we could go have lunch and catch up. Plus, I've never been outside of the airport in Florida, so it'll be nice to say I've actually been to Florida, if only for a few hours. :) I would be getting in to Detroit around 9pm for a late night with family, and getting dropped off at Wildwood early Friday morning to catch the last day of staff training.

Sounds great, right? Well, it was. Then, the airline changed my flight time. Now, I'm not leaving Florida until around 9pm, and won't be getting in to Detroit until midnight. Even without delays, I won't be getting to my house until about 1am. And I plan on leaving for Wildwood at 6am the next morning. So, I likely won't sleep that night. But, it'll be ok. And this was all sort of off-topic. I had a big cup of super sugary iced tea after Bible study earlier, and I think it's kicking in now.

So, that's what my summer is going to be: working at Wildwood, and catching up with friends on the weekends. I will also be taking some self-defense classes on the weekends from a friend of mine who's a martial artist and was offering a really good deal on classes. So, that should be fun, and then I don't have to be as concerned about my knife getting turned against me on the off chance that I do need to defend myself. :)

I'll also be attending at least one civil war reenactment, the last weekend I'm here. I'm not sure if there are others that I can attend yet, so we'll see. I'm looking forward to the one I am going to, because I had crazy amounts of fun there when I went a couple years ago, despite getting food poisoning from eating a sandwich my mom had leftover from dinner like 5 hours before I got there. It was there that I was "shot and killed" during a skirmish between the rebs and union soldiers that took place in town. Fun times, but I've gotten off topic again.

I will be leaving the US and coming back to Honduras on August 8th, just 5 days after camp ends. The reason I'm leaving so soon (school probably won't start until the first week of September) is that I'm going to be taking 2 weeks of Spanish school at a school in Copan, which is a couple hours south of San Pedro Sula. I'll be living with a host family there for the two weeks and having 20 hours a week of one-on-one Spanish instruction, plus homework every night.

I'm SUPER excited about Spanish school. I know it'll be really good for me. I've been learning with one of the other teachers at the school (you can read about that in my previous blog if you haven't already), so I will hopefully have a lot of the verbs figured out so I can focus a lot more on fluency in Copan. And, I'll probably continue lessons with Hellen next year to keep sharp.

So, that's the plan right for summer. In exactly 5 weeks, I'll probably be on a plane or boarding one in Florida to go to my Michigan home for the summer! :D

Teaching the Bible Study Lesson (as well as some other quick updates)

Well, I have once again fallen behind in posts. We had a super busy weekend a couple Saturdays ago with our Day of the Americas celebration. I was outside pitching and decorating a tent, chasing kids, and watching the dances from all the different countries from about 7am to 4pm, so when I got home, I decided to take a nap without setting an alarm. I woke up at 9:15pm. Wow. So, yeah. That was a couple weekends ago. Plus, with all the preparations, I had fallen behind in my article writing job and ended up spending most of our Monday off working on those.

Last Saturday I went to a friend's birthday party. It was during that and stumbling through a couple of conversations with Spanish-speaking people that I finally realized that I need help with my Spanish. I've been learning a lot and have come far, but I'm really only learning a couple of new words every week, and I hardly ever actually speak to people other than with my kids. So, I've taken one of the other teachers up on her offer to teach me Spanish.

She's perfect to teach me, because she "yells" at me quite often to speak in Spanish, but is also VERY encouraging. She's been giving me lists of verbs to write out in the past tense, which is what I told her I'm having the most trouble with right now. This weekend, she has me writing out full sentences using present and past tenses of the 40+ verbs I've written out this week. It sucks having all this homework, but it's good for me for sure. :)

Last Thursday, we were talking after Bible study to determine who was going to do what for the following week. Tito asked Dona Elsa to give "the Word" (the main lesson, not just a few verses) who redirected him to me, and I smiled and agreed, thinking they were joking. I told them "it's just ONE word, right?" and thought nothing of it until Monday. On Monday, the sudden realization hit me that they didn't ask somebody else to give the Word after I had jokingly agreed to it. I realized they expected me to have something for them on Thursday.

So, on Tuesday night, I stayed up late writing out what I wanted to say. I decided to talk about tests and suffering. I wrote out 4 pages, though about half is Bible verses that I wanted to just have in front of me rather than having to look them up. I had Hellen check it for me to make sure it made sense, and she only found a couple of very minor mistakes, where I had the wrong last letter of a couple of words. One of them mattered a lot since it changed the word "silver" into "plate."

Even going into Bible study today, I was still not entirely sure if I was expected to give the Word, but I was prepared to do so. Sure enough, they were expecting me to have the lesson prepared. Because I had gone into it hoping for the best (not actually having to talk), when I knew I did have to talk, my nerves struck hard. I had practiced reading the whole thing out loud 3 times and most of what I wrote were my words, but I knew there were some words in there I had gotten from Google translate and the Bible, so I didn't know them well.

I like to stuff my talks with a lot of Bible verses, because I think it's important to be sharing God's words more than my words, and to be clear that everything I do say comes directly from God's Word. So, I had them read the Bible passages except for a couple of shorter ones that I did rather than taking the time to have everyone look them up. That way, I knew they would understand the verses, which were arranged to take everyone on a journey to explore this idea of tests and what to do about them and in them, and to look at why we have them.

So, it was a pretty good talk. I was super nervous at first, but as soon as I saw that they were taking notes and really listening, I was able to relax and just focus on reading and saying what I wanted to say, rather than being as worried about getting it all pronounced right and everything. I messed up a few times, especially on the words that I didn't know, but just corrected myself and kept on going. When I got to the important points and stressed them, there were "amens" from everyone, which was a real sign to me that they understood me.

I was super relieved when I was done and am still finding it a little hard to believe that I actually managed to do that. So, this was a really good experience for me to realize that I CAN speak Spanish and be understood. I CAN use complete sentences that make sense. That was further solidified for me when we were talking afterwards about losing things.

They asked me if I lose things often, and I said "siempre" (always). They laughed, and I then told them the story of when I lost my car/house keys. I always left them on the shelf by the door, and one day, I just couldn't find them. So, I used my spare keys for a while until I locked my keys in my car in front of the house while the car was running. Then, I had to do a thorough search of the entire house, and found them exactly where I always put them; they had just fallen onto the lower shelf. Surprising even myself, I managed to tell the whole story enough that they knew what I was talking about, though I know I didn't use a lot of the right verbs. It's still too hard to try to think of how to say what verb I need in the middle of talking. :)

So, good things are happening right now. And, I just realized I never posted my definite summer plans, so I'll end this blog now and get my summer plans put out there in another one, right now, so I don't forget again.

UPDATE: Tito and Cesia just came in, and congratulated me on sharing, so now I'm sure that I did well! :D