June 30, 2010

Kindergarten Graduation – June 25, 2010

It’s that time of year again. Kindergarten graduation time. This year, at Giraffe, I have had the pleasure of once again being the English teacher to a few little kids. Justin, Nadia, Andrew, Nunu, and Anita.

Of these five kids, four are graduating. In September, they will be going on to elementary school. As far as I know, they will be starting Grade 1. They are: Justin, Nadia, Andrew, and Nunu.

Andrew is a relatively new addition to the class. He and his cousin, Wendy, started class together about 2 years ago. From the beginning, he was very quiet. He would sit beside Justin in class, and basically do and say whatever Justin would do or say. He also looked up to his cousin a lot. Almost for that first year, he would sit very still in class. I tried many, many times, to get him to loosen up a bit. When his parents would pick him up, he would say goodbye to me (if I was there), but only after, I suppose, they told him to say it!

All that changed last year. He was a lot more comfortable in class. His cousin went on to another school. I guess he felt more as a part of the class. His English got a lot better. He started answering questions on his own without the help of the other students. At times, and many times this past few months, he was the one helping others!

I could see that Andrew was really starting to enjoy the times that I was there. He would open the door for me, and then begin talking, telling me how he was, what he was doing, anything that was on his mind at the time. Like Nadia and Justin, I was sure to get a big hug from him every morning.

Andrew, as well as the others, really enjoyed some of the games that I taught them. Not your ordinary type games, either. One game I taught them, and they seemed to really like it, was Memory. The kids would have to find two cards that matched, by taking turns turning over two cards. A match, they got the cards. No match, the cards were turned back over, and the other team would go.

Inevitably, he and Justin would be playing against the girls. He was very competitive. It actually made for a good game – boys against the girls. Another game that they seemed to enjoy, was a flashcard game, using their books. I would show a card, and the students would have to look for the picture in their books, then say the word. Once they did this, they got the card.

Andrew became quite good at playing this game. In the beginning, he would get frustrated that he couldn’t say the word fast enough. Once he realized that he and Justin were playing together, then the learning began. I’m almost positive that he would go through the book at home and practice the words, just so he could get some cards on his own! Again, a fun game, that became very competitive.

Andrew, I’ve really enjoyed watching you learn. I’ve enjoyed watching you grow into the young boy that you are now. I hope that you do not lose that spirit for learning. I hope that I can continue to be an inspiration for you. Continue to learn, and challenge yourself. Don’t be shy about talking to ANYONE in English. Only by talking, will you get better, and I know you will!

Good luck in grade one!

Nunu, as far as I can remember, is the newest student in the class. If I remember correctly, she had been in the class a while back, and then wasn’t. After a few months, she returned to class, wearing leg braces. I’m not sure why she was wearing the braces, but that didn’t stop her.

She continued to be just as an integral part of the class, as anyone else. This is part of the reason why I opted to start playing some games with the students that did not involve a lot of movement. It was difficult for her to get around, I could see that. So rather than alienating her, doing games like the flashcards and memory games, were games that she could easily participate in, and still feel that she was part of the class.

Perhaps Nunu wasn’t as quick in some of the games as the other students, she did try her best. She was always able to answer questions, tell me the date, the weather… so I know she was learning! And the whole point of these classes is to teach the students some English.

Nunu always participated well in class. Whether learning new words, new sentences, or a new song, she seemed to give her all. It was definitely a pleasure to teach her. In fact, even though I’ve mentioned it for all four of these students – Justin, Nadia, Andrew, and Nunu – this has been one incredible year.

The students have learned over a hundred new words. They’ve learned to sing some ‘unconventional’ songs, such as “Monday, Monday” by the Mommas and Pappas! They’ve learned a few ‘unordinary’ games. They’ve learned to speak in two languages quite well for their age. They’ve even learned how to use sign language when reciting the alphabet!

I truly wish all these students the very best next year. I also hope that their parents will continue to encourage them to learn English. All these students have the potential, in my opinion, of doing very well in their second language. I have been lucky to have had such an amazing group of young learners.

Good luck and best wishes to each and every one of you!


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