UVA in Valencia
Before I walk into the classroom, I can hear screaming and yelling down the hallway and the clashing of chairs and textbooks. For the first time in the past three weeks I arrived early, mostly because I did not get lost navigating the hallways. I walk into the room and am greeted with a hundred “Hellos” in English, while a swarm of fifteen-year-olds run rampant, unsupervised. To my right is a kid sitting in the trashcan. Another one is having his faced wrapped in masking tape by his friends; and in the back of the classroom, I hear a loud THUD. Before I can look up, I hear laughing and more kids yelling my name before I realize someone had ripped all of the paper and books out of a desk creating a huge mess. I cannot hold in my laughter and break down laughing, while trying to act as an adult. Gemi and Hermi, the English teachers, walk into the classroom, unphased by the chaos. Instead of sitting down in their desks, the students who are being taught by Gemi run out of the classroom to a different one down the hall. After ten minutes the chaos dies down, but the classroom looks like war zone with trash and paper everywhere.
For the past month I have had the incredible opportunity to volunteer at the local school to assist in the English classrooms. The experience was completely opposite of what I expected, but I cannot imagine it being any other way. Mondays and Wednesdays, I look forward to interacting with the kids in both Spanish and English. Some are more experienced than others, but all are trying their best to speak in English. At first, some of the students did not realize I spoke Spanish and would talk among themselves in their native language, but they quickly realized I was bilingual after I responded back to them in Spanish.
On Mondays, I take the kids out into the hallway and help them practice their oral presentations or have a conversation with them in English. The girls are always a little more timid but warm up quickly after I ask them a few questions. The guys are polar opposite. They approach me speaking all the English slang they can think of while boasting their huge personalities. One time a kid whipped out his fake ID and asked me if I thought it would work at the clubs, while his friend was asking about American girls. Each week is never the same, and their requests and questions get funnier. Their teachers are saints and are extremely helpful to both myself and their students.
Because of Dr. Palmer’s linguistics’ course, I understand why native Spanish speakers have a hard time pronouncing specific sounds and letters in English. I have been able to apply the knowledge gained from Dr. Palmer to help the next generation of English speakers. I break down each sound and explain to students in Spanish where their tongue should be placed when pronouncing the different English sounds.
I am lucky to have the opportunity to help out in the school. Each day I can see their joy and excitement when I walk into their classroom and nothing beats the feeling. Their goofy and innocent humor brings out the best in everyone and I look forward to working with them each week.