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HDCH International Students Teach Local Students

Students in the Hamilton District Christian High ESL (English as a Second Language) Program ventured out into the community to work with some local grade 6 elementary school students.

Tasked with teaching a skill, the ESL students planned and delivered a brief instructional presentation to help grade 6 students learn things like: how to count from 1 -10 in Chinese; Paper Folding techniques, Lantern Festival Riddles,  and The Cup Song.

“The (grade 6) kids are still talking about the experiences, and I have so many Pikachu characters in my room now, it is beginning to look zooish.”

Learning through Climbing
Through the experience of learning something new at Gravity Climbing gym, the HDCH students gathered effective teaching techniques from their instructors. By debriefing this climbing event the students were able to identify helpful teaching techniques and learned specific words and expressions used when giving feedback and providing multi-step instructions.

The class chose an age appropriate skill to teach grade 6 students at a local elementary school.  They prepared a script that included step by step instructions for a specific skill or activity. Writing and editing the script was the most challenging part of the project as clear, precise word choices would be critical when giving instructions.

Writing the script included teaching the skill to a peer to get a sense of whether the instructions needed to be improved for clarity.  One class period was devoted to teaching the whole class the skill and then students shared written and verbal feedback with each other.  The culminating event was going to the elementary school and teaching multiple groups of grade 6 students the skill they had prepared. Then the ESL students wrote a learning reflection on different aspects of the project.

The Challenges
Common challenges for students included how to adapt activities for a variety of learners – adding a higher level of difficulty or simplifying some steps/instructions.  Giving instructions required using precise vocabulary.  Students learned a lot of terminology that was specific to teaching their skill.

This project allows students to develop communication skills in English in a meaningful way.  Grade 6 students were a welcoming and affirming audience, so ESL students are able to take a risk in their learning in a safe environment.

Our students enjoyed teaching the news skills and didn’t like saying goodbye to the grade 6 class.

Feedback from the Grade 6 Class

What were the activities that you enjoyed:
“All of them” (resounding endorsement from everybody)

Why did you like them?

  • “We made things”
  • “We could take the skills (origami) home with us”
  • “We learned words from a different language that we could teach at home”

Was there anything that you think could have made their activities or presentations better?
“I wish that there were something I could have taken home (handouts) to help me remember how to say the Mandarin numbers.”

What did you appreciate about each group leader?

  • “They had a lot of confidence in their presentation.”
  •  “They were very patient with us, especially in the origami.”
  • “The riddles were great!”
  • “They were so helpful to us, giving us good directions.”
  • “They were able to answer on the spot questions, which was probably hard for them because they may not have had a lot of time to prepare an answer.”
  • “They made sure that the activities were age appropriate.”
  • “There were good leadership skills.”
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