Here in Bali and I am teaching to grade 5, which here ranges from 9-12 years old. Their language ability varies just as much as their age. Almost all of them have a pretty good vocabulary and a pretty extensive one. However, they have only been taught rote memorization. They cannot think or create in English on their own. They want you to do it with them for every example and want you, aka me, to confirm that every answer is correct after they do each one before they will move on to the next one.
It is quite a different experience for me. There are volunteers here who have experience teaching young children in the US and even for them this need for constant validation and the inability to use the extensive English they have is a new phenomenon for them.
With all that being said I will say they are the most eager and fun students I have worked with. I have a small class of about 7 students and they run to me every morning when I get there and jump at almost every exercise I give them.
However, what really motivates them are stickers. The bigger and more ornate (meaning goggly eyes, etc.) the better. You can't find stickers in Bali so I raided my dollar store and brought a ton and I am a huge hit! They do start asking for a sticker for everything but I hold them back for doing well or for the end of the day. I even switched it up one day and gave a mini chocolate bar as a prize and they were disappointed and asked for a sticker instead! I couldn't believe they wanted to turn down chocolate!
I am having a blast coming up with materials and trolling the ESL website materials. There are such good materials created out there. So thank you to all the people I have borrowed materials from (legally I might add). The kids go through the material so fast. I hope they retain some of it. That is the hard part is that with these program - that there is no continuity from one volunteer to the next to keep these things going.
My advice to others hoping to do similar things is to raid your dollar or pound store for lots of stickers and school supplies since even good markers are hard to find here. Also, be fully engaged. I spend probably about 1.5 hours in the afternoon finding and copying material and then another hour in the evening arranging it all. I am teaching by myself so it may be easier with a partner but don't go in halfway. The kids deserve more and they will respond to as much as you give them. Don't be afraid to challenge them.
I also promise to add pictures to these blogs as soon as I get home. The wifi in Bali isn't great and my blogging software doesn't like to capture the images.
Another blog soon. I hope you enjoy these entries and I would love to hear about your teaching experiences abroad.