English Fun Class Time for Palestinian Students: Yesterday the Excellence Center held the English Fun class time for students aged six to thirteen as we do every Saturday. One of the special things about this class time is that it is on a weekend and separate from school time, meaning all of our students in the class have elected to join us, they have chosen to spend part of their weekend time with us and they are not being required to attend. These students are of a beginner level and tend to be much younger than the “English Club” we hold on Wednesdays.
Our international volunteers work with these students for one hour once a week. The internationals make sure to intersperse the education with fun and games. Each week a different theme is used to work on the children’s English speaking skills. Subjects such as hobbies, physical health, healthy eating, family and basic introductions have been used.
This past Saturday the class was taught by Alexa who is from the United States who apart from teaching participates in our “Volunteer to Write about Palestine” program. She tells us the class began discussing ‘leisure time.’ Alexa says, “I expected this word to be beyond their knowledge as it is a difficult work but I thought I would ask the class first if anyone knew it, fully expecting to have to define the word myself,” however she continues, “when I asked, one of the boys immediately raised his hand and said ‘free time!’” Alexa told us this is one of the things that she loved about working with these children, she is always surprised by the excitement and knowledge of her students.
The class continue by asking students to raise their hands and name possible ways to spend free time as Alexa wrote their responses on their board. After coming up with a hearty list the students went around the room telling the class: their name, their age and their favorite way to spend their free time. Among the answers were things such as: video games, football, swimming, baking a cake, time with friends and drawing a picture. Though some students were shyer than others, eventually with help and warmness each student felt comfortable enough to introduce themselves and name their favorite free time activity.
After everyone had a chance to speak, they talked about the meaning of “actions” and Alexa pulled out a basket of little pieces of paper folded up. Upon each paper was written an action, such as: climbing, walking, jumping, laughing, reading and thinking. A student would come to the front of the class and pick a piece of paper out of the basket, read it and then act out the action and the rest of the class would guess the word they had picked. The students especially loved this part of the class and they all eagerly raised their hands wanting to get their chance to come up in front of the class.
For the final portion of the class Alexa wrote words on the board and asked for the students to name to opposites of each word. There were pairs such as: stop/go, cry/laugh, big/small and in front/behind. Then the students would come up in pairs, they would quietly choose a pair of opposites and each one would portray the opposite of their partner and the rest of the class would guess which pair of opposites they had chosen.
Alexa tells us teaching the class is definitely a bright part of her weekend, “the students are so eager and so excited to participate, it can’t help but get you inspired as a teacher.” Alexa continues, “and they are so bright! I love working with children of this age and I am truly going to miss this part of my week when I leave the Excellence Center.” Our Saturday English Fun class embodies exactly what we at the Excellence Center strive for in our work. We want to advance our students’ English skills but we want them to be engaged in their education just as the students in this class are.