Tuesday, July 14, 2009

At the Language School

I owe you a blog post. Honestly I was planning on writing a lot more about the Language School, but then I got here, and I've been busy and have been working on writing other things and so I am only just now, in our last week getting a chance to write about it. Although you probably wouldn't have wanted to hear me complain throughout the last couple of weeks.

I dislike this job. Only now am I coming to terms with and accepting it. What do I do? Well, I sit in class while the kids learn Russian. I answer ridiculous questions. I speak Russian. I second guess myself. Yup that's it in a nutshell. Personally, I feel that there are entirely too many people working with the Russian class. There are three teachers and four Peer Mentor/Teaching Assistants. But enough about that. The language school itself is a cool idea.

It's a four week intensive immersion thing and then they have sessions where they meet throughout the following school year. Technology plays a big role, as the kids do a lot of Skypeing over the school year part. Basically, the kids are here to learn Russian, or one of four other languages (Hindi, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese). As a result they spend pretty much all of their time in class and with their class. A typical day in the Russian class is as follows:

Class starts everyday at nine a.m. During the morning session, Mister Doctor teaches them. They go over grammar points and new vocabulary and do a lot of speaking activities. At noon, they have Lunch for an hour. Lunch is eaten all together at long Tables in the SPU Student Center. They kids are only supposed to speak Russian, and so it is the job of us, the Peer Mentors to speak Russian with them. A lot of times, new vocabulary is introduced here too. After lunch, the kids have class again from about one until three. This session is taught by a Russian grad student who is a Native speaker. Generally, at the afternoon session, the kids go over dialogs and perform them for each other. They also go over new vocabulary and occasionally watch cartoons.

By three p.m. The kids (And teachers) are ready for a break. So they get two hours of free time. Dinner is at five and is eaten in our Russian lounge. Then comes culture time. Culture is taught by a Russian woman who lives in the area. Generally, culture is anything from making Chai, to watching movies, to working on projects, to singing. On the last day of camp, there is a closing ceremony where each language shows off what it has learned, generally by singing. So the kids practice that pretty much every night. A lot of times the kids will get to go outside and play Russian games during culture time as well. The day is not over yet though, because at 9 p.m. It's study time. This is where we PMs are used the most. During study time, the kids do their homework, practice dialogs and pronunciation and get ready for tests and so on. It is our job to help check their work and answer questions. They kids head up to their rooms for bedtime at 11.

So their days are long, but they are learning a lot. It's amazing actually, how three weeks ago they all showed up here, many of them leaving home for the first time. They came and they couldn't speak a word of Russian. Now here we are three weeks later and they can understand much more and can speak. The other day I sat at lunch with one of the kids and we had a good solid conversation about music for ten minutes or so. It was really cool.

It isn't all bad. It has it's good moments. Like what I just said above, or silly things the kids, or we do. Writing stupid fairy tales across the whiteboards, walking to acme, and good times at the red light. The kids are really great, and I'm going to miss them when it's over. I mean, we've got kind of this family thing going on. Which is really fun, and fascinating from a social standpoint. The job has some weird stresses though, and I'm not sure it's really my thing.

1 comment:

adam k. said...

sounds great.i'd like to be in that kind of learning environment one day.right now all i can do is listen to Michel Thomas's russian language lessons :\