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As I prepare for the start of my second week of teaching at Yachay Tech University, I thought I should reflect on my first week. I’m somewhat of a pro of jumping into a ESL/EFL situation, having to go with the flow and adapt to preset conditions, and being flexible with my teaching style. Yachay was no different.
However there are a few things that stand out for sure.
#1. Students who want to learn and don’t hate English.
Yes, my friends, this is a rarity in this ESL/EFL game. So many of my students have a dislike of English because they have been forced to study this language and the cultures (mainly American culture) that accompany the language. There is a resent that some of my past students held towards English and I understand it. I don’t try to change their view point; I just try to show how learning English will benefit them and improve their lives from watching movies to traveling internationally to really understanding rap songs (but on the real, sometimes I don’t know what rappers are talking about and don’t really want to know. just make sure that beat is tight.). But nearly all of my Yachay students are motivated and ready to work hard. Of course, they test me and my English knowledge, but that’s what young folks do.
#2. Paperless university
Didn’t know this type of college existed until my arrival to Yachay. What can I say, but very interesting concept. As an old school writer who prefers to have pen in hand and notebook on table, not writing down things nor collecting papers from students is challenging; it’s hard to adapt and progress with technology. I’m forcing myself to use my iPad for lesson planning, taking attendance, making notes, and sharing information with my teaching team. (Shout out to my bro who bought my iPad as a birthday gift. Thanks.)
#3. No homework
Say what?! Yes, you read that right–no homework. Again, a new concept that I didn’t know was possible in a writing class. However, from my university job in Heredia, Costa Rica, I am familiar with ESL/EFL classes with no homework. (My students complained to my boss that I–gringa loca– had the nerve to give them homework. So my boss called me into her office and asked when did I expect my night class students to do homework. Therefore, homework became optional in that class. And “optional” has been a key word in assigning homework in some of my classes.)
So my Yachay students are supposed to complete essays, a research paper, a semester project and presentations during class time (90 mins/day, 5days/week). Ojala…
#4. Grading “paperless” essays
Today my students are uploading their essay drafts to Desire2Learn computer system (like BlackBoard). I’m trying to figure out how to make grammar edits without using my standard editor’s marks. This shall be interesting. But again, I must adapt to modern technology and be flexible.
#5. Where’s your computer, teacher?
So I bought the Apple adapter for a projector (what I used last time I taught at UTPL in Loja, Ecuador); however, because I’m teaching at a high tech uni, we are using HDTV. There has been a delay in my work computer and obtaining a proper HDTV adapter, so I have been writing on the white board. And yes, some of my lovely students have complained about me not being hip to the tech savvy ways of Yachay. lol