2013 / Chile

Challenges to Overcome

meMy GREATEST CHALLENGE is of course, the language barrier. I am open to different methodologies and diverse teaching pedagogies, so these differences will not be challenging for me.  My first day, I could barely pronounce the students names because they are names I am completely unfamiliar with. To over come this challenge I has every student write their name on a card and then I took a picture of each student holding his name card with my iPad. When I arrived home I practiced saying all the boys names with my host family until I was able to say each name perfectly.

Although the boys learn Math, English, Social Studies, and Science in English, they struggle speaking and comprehending English. The English they are taught is from the British School System, so I am even unfamiliar with some of the words being used. I feel as though I am learning two languages at times. When the boys talk to each other and me outside of their studies, they speak in Spanish. Building relationships with the boys is more challenging because I can not speak Spanish fluently or comprehend the language as well as I would like. To over come this challenge I am speaking is Spanish as MUCH as I can. It has only been 3 days and my host family said that my Spanish has improved significantly. I am confident; I will over come this challenge in time.

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6 thoughts on “Challenges to Overcome

  1. Jaci! How exciting you are already there! When I was in Cameroon the language barrier was a huge challenge of mine as well. My students spoke mostly french and their personal dialect with pigeon english as well! It amazed me how after just a couple weeks I could understand a great deal of what everyone was saying. Even if I couldn’t understand the entire conversation I became really good at reading body language and voice inflection. Sounds like you are immersing yourself in the culture and language. What helped me a lot was being around my colleagues and host family after school practicing and listening, and it sounds like that’s what your are doing as well! It becomes a little brain draining, but I bet you’re already getting use to it! I love my classroom here at Brillion Elementary, but just after reading one of your blogs I miss teaching overseas immensely! Looking forward to reading about more of your adventures! 🙂

    • Caroline! I only have about 3 weeks left in my placement. Wow! This truly has been life changing. The language barrier has become less of a barrier and more of a hurdle. Understanding people is much easier now. Body language is key! All of my meetings are at The Mackay School are in Spanish, so I had no choice, but to learn fast! I try to speak in Spanish all the time and people keep telling that it is improving. Your right about it being brain draining! I go to bed so early here. My brain is SO tired by the end of the day. I am usually sleeping by 8. I love it!

  2. Hello Jacqueline,
    I was interested to know how you are doing in Chile in your new adventure of student teaching in multiple languages. Seems like you are immersing yourself in the environment and certainly pulling forth all the Spanish skills you gained during your studies in the US. Is it encouraged to speak Spanish with your students or does the administration/teacher want them to be communicating w/you only in English?

    Keep the blogs coming and remember to check my list of topics to cover. Looking forward to hearing more!

    • I communicate in English during Math, Science, and Social Studies. During Counseling and Workshop I speak in Spanish. I would say there is a good mixture of the two. I am absolutely loving this country and school!!

  3. Jaci!

    Great to hear that you’re settled into your placement and finding your way. I can’t imagine how difficult and overwhelming it is communicating with your students when there is a language barrier, and their accents are probably challenging as well in terms of speaking English.

    I loved how you didn’t get discouraged with pronouncing your students’ names and used your resources to learn their names. Often times seating charts aren’t really a “thing” abroad, so it’s so great that you gave it your all, practiced and overcame the name obstacle! Good for you.

    Keep chugging along and enjoying your time. Before we know it we will be back in the states. Can’t believe it. Stay safe,
    Alison

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