For the past two years, I was teaching English as a teaching assistant in a bilingual elementary school in Spain. I mostly worked with kids ranging from 7 to 10 years old. I also taught private English classes for kids and adults.
I have studied Spanish since I was in high school and continued to study it through college. I ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Oregon. And now I’m starting to learn Portuguese!
I open the class with talking about the day, the weekend or the weather. Some students are looking to practice vocabulary in a specific subject area in which case I ask about that and for the next lesson I’ll prepare some questions specific to that topic. If the student doesn’t have a preference about a topic, I create some questions just in case we need help getting a conversation going.
My absolute favorite topics are when the students talk about their country. I really enjoy listening and learning about cultural differences (food, language, customs, clothing) around the globe. I also like to talk about food. J
It’s hard to say which area all students need help in. Everyone learns differently. This means that one student may have problems in one area and another student has difficulties in a completely different area! Students can also have problems in more than one area, which is completely normal when learning a language.
I have so many tips!
What I like to do when I think about learning a language is that your mouth and your brain are muscles. You need to exercise them to create muscle memory just like when you go to the gym to exercise and lift weights. I suggest repeating difficult words outloud many many times as well as talking to yourself outloud. I also recommend trying to think in English as a way to practice (either in your head or outloud). It could be even really simple things at first. For example, “I need to take out the trash. It really smells.” These methods help to get your mind used to thinking in another language as well as speaking it. It’s really difficult at first, but keep with it and I promise you it will get easier!
Listen to music in English. If you don’t understand it, look up the lyrics and learn to sing the song with the artist. It’s a great way to practice speaking and listening.
Watch movies in English with subtitles in your native language. Sometimes the translations aren’t completely accurate, but it’s a great way to practice listening.
When I’m not teaching English I’m either reading (I LOVE to read) or watching Brazilian telenovelas (soap operas). I’m currently beginning to learn Portuguese and watching telenovelas is getting me used to how the language sounds and how to say the words.
I prefer students who are ready to have a conversation. This means that students who are willing to talk. It’s hard, I know! But I know you can do it. Skype English classes are a great way to practice what you already know and to build upon that foundation to improve speaking in English.