Tuesday, April 14, 2015
English Language Class for Chinese Speakers
One of my absolute favorite things I get to do as a full time missionary in New Zealand is to help with the English language classes for Chinese speakers. What a great group to be involved in! The class is divided into three groups: Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Elder Bennett helps with the advanced class, working with students who are preparing to be able to converse in job interview situations and in the workplace. I work with the beginning students, teaching basic vocabulary.
Our students are very bright. They come from a wide range of past professions in their home country including a pediatrician, an engineer and a driving instructor. Their commitment to learning is very evident in their consistent attendance, follow-up on homework and their great attitudes. They practice both speaking and writing this new language that is oh so very different from their native tongue every chance they can.
Their example makes me ashamed of all the times I said I wanted to learn Spanish, but then quit when it got hard or when I was frustrated by not getting to mastery fast enough. I am learning many nuances of my own language that I never really noticed until beginning to teach it to others.
This class meets for one hour on two nights each week. We teach the Tuesday night session and another senior couple covers the class on Thursdays. Currently I am using a picture dictionary for English and Maori language to introduce new words. The pictures are so well done and the words included so comprehensive we have found it to be a great resource. The beginning students are working on words for articles of clothing, items found in the home, and how to introduce themselves. Next we will move on to common places in the community such as grocery stores, banks, health care facilities, restaurants and places of transportation (airport, bus, taxi, etc.).
I don't need to be a certified ELS teacher to volunteer for this class. I simply need to have a proficient command of my own language and a willingness to help. It does take some planning and organization, but the laughter and joy we experience working with these students is ample reward. As we work with these students we get to know them and have come to treasure each individual. Truly, these are some of the experiences of my mission that I will hold most dear.