Final week of ESL classes with lasting memories

Nirmeen raises her hand to show she has correctly found one of the countries on the world map As our classes at TYO draw to an end we’ve begun to reflect on the experience of our classes. The ESL classes have not been a purely academic driven exercise, with an English focus, instead in these classes we have built relationships and have shared a wide cultural exchange.

The 4th through 9th grade ESL classes are designed to deceive children and young adults into learning English through fun and challenging activities that incorporate weekly learning objectives. Some of my favorite activities include; scavenger hunts where teams of students have to find and correctly ask, then say new vocabulary words hidden throughout the playground area. Also the card game ‘Go Fish!’ adapted so that students have a deck of cards with people, places or things and must ask the appropriate questions to get a matching set of images. My third would be an acting activity where student groups wrote and acted out a role-play in class using hula hoops as props. Moreover, all the classes incorporated reading and homework time intended to both create a culture of reading, as well as give the students the opportunity to ask college educated Palestinians for assistance with schoolwork.

The wide range of activities at TYO ensures that the students remain engaged and excited about learning throughout the 9-week course. I am encouraged by the students’ speed with which they grasp the weekly objectives, and even more so with each student’s personal growth. Over the past couple of months I have witnessed the students’ attitudes and behaviors toward each other and themselves change. Students who were reluctant to speak in class have gained the confidence to raise their hands and ask questions. While more difficult students have grown, having opened up to the child psychologist on staff here, to discuss the frustrations and tensions at home that drive these behaviors.  These heartwarming and inspiring transformations are a result of TYO’s commitment to provide a safe space for Nabulsi youth to develop psychosocial skills through the English language classes.

These classes have been incredible for us interns to monitor how academically receptive the students are. There are some students who have moved from the weakest to becoming some of the strongest, others who are still weak among their peers but have made a huge personal leap. Seeing this growth of confidence and energy in only nine weeks, has re-assured me of the academic potential that these children have in the long term. Through the growth of their confidence an extra spur of creativity has emerged in the students. Knowing that they can present themselves and their own ideas in a safe environment, without shame or judgement, has allowed the kids to growth within themselves these past nine weeks.

- TYO interns, Mariella and Katherine